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Placeholder name
"Nicknack" redirects here. For the James Bond character, see The Man with the Golden Gun (film).
"Cadigan" redirects here. For people with the surname, see Cadigan (surname).
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Placeholder names are words that can refer to things or people whose names do not exist, are temporarily forgotten, irrelevant, or unknown in the context in which they are being discussed.
Linguistic role
These placeholders typically function grammatically as nouns and can be used for people (e.g. John Doe, Jane Doe), objects (e.g. widget), locations ("Main Street"), or places (e.g. Anytown, USA). They share a property with pronouns, because their referents must be supplied by context; but, unlike a pronoun, they may be used with no referent—the important part of the communication is not the thing nominally referred to by the placeholder, but the context in which the placeholder occurs.
In their Dictionary of American Slang (1960), Stuart Berg Flexner and Harold Wentworth use the term kadigan for placeholder words. They define "kadigan" as a synonym for thingamajig. The term may have originated with Willard R. Espy, though others, such as David Annis, also used it (or cadigans) in their writing. Its etymology is obscure—Flexner and Wentworth related it to the generic word gin for engine (as in the cotton gin). It may also relate to the Irishsurname Cadigan.
Hypernyms (words for generic categories; e.g., "flower" for tulips and roses) may also be used in this function of a placeholder, but they are not considered to be kadigans.
Examples
Placeholder words exist in a highly informal register of the English language. In formal speech and writing, words like accessory, paraphernalia, artifact, instrument, or utensil are preferred; these words serve substantially the same function, but differ in connotation.
Most of these words can be documented in at least the 19th century. Edgar Allan Poe wrote a short story entitled "The Literary Life of Thingum Bob, Esq"., showing that particular form to be in familiar use in the United States in the 1840s. In Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado, W. S. Gilbert makes the Lord High Executioner sing of a "little list" which includes:
... apologetic statesmen of a compromising kind,
Such as: What d'ye call him: Thing'em-bob, and likewise: Never-mind,
and 'St: 'st: 'st: and What's-his-name, and also You-know-who:
The task of filling up the blanks I'd rather leave to you.
Some fields have their own specific placeholder terminology. For example, "widget" in economics, engineering and electronics, or "Blackacre" and "John Doe" or "Jane Doe" in law. "X-ray" was originally a placeholder name for an unexplained phenomenon.
Companies and organizations
Computing
Main article: Metasyntactic variable
Placeholder names are commonly used in computing:
Domain names
Certain domain names in the format example.tld (such as example.com, example.net, and example.org) are officially reserved as placeholders for the purpose of presentation.[3] Various example reserved IP addresses exist in IPv4 and IPv6, such as 192.0.2.0 in IPv4 documentation and 2001:db8:: in IPv6 documentation.
Geographical locations
Placeholders such as Main Street, Your County, and Anytown are often used in sample mailing addresses. Ruritania is commonly used as a placeholder country.
Something-stan, where something is often profanity, is commonly used as a placeholder for a Middle Eastern or South Asian country or for a politically disliked portion of one's own country. Example – Carjackastan
Timbuktu, which is also a real city, is often used to mean a place that is far away, in the middle of nowhere, or exotic.
Podunk is used in American English for a hypothetical small town regarded as typically dull or insignificant, a place in the U.S. that is unlikely to have been heard of. Another example is East Cupcake to refer to a generic small town in the Midwestern United States.[4]
Similarly, the boondocks or the boonies are used in American English to refer to very rural areas without many inhabitants.
In New Zealand English, Woop Woops (or, alternatively, Wop-wops)[5] is a (generally humorous) name for an out-of-the-way location, usually rural and sparsely populated. The similar Australian English Woop Woop, (or, less frequently, Woop Woops)[5] can refer to any remote location, or outback town or district. Another New Zealand English term with a similar use is Waikikamukau ("Why kick a moo-cow"), a generic name for a small rural town.[6]
In British English, Bongo Bongo Land (or Bongo-bongo Land) is a pejorative term used to refer to Third World countries, particularly in Africa, or to a fictional such country.
Legal
Medicine
Military
Often used in example names and addresses to indicate to the serviceman where to put his own details.
In the British Army, the fictional Loamshire Regiment is used as a placeholder to provide examples for its procedures such as addressing mail or specimen charges for violations of military law.
Numbers
Main article: indefinite and fictitious numbers
People
See also: List of terms related to an average person
Spoken and written language
Lorem ipsum: Simulated text used to fill in for written content in a page layout design
See also
References
  1. ^ Raymond, Eric. "Foo". The Jargon File (version 4.4.7). Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  2. ^ "J. Random". Catb.org. Retrieved October 6, 2012.
  3. ^ "Example.com".
  4. ^ Gail Collins (April 30, 2014). "It's Only a Million". New York Times. It will never occur to them that if voters had not given them that stint of public service, they would be processing divorce cases back home in East Cupcake.
  5. ^ a b "Woop Woop". Oxford Dictionaries.
  6. ^ McCloy, Nicola (2006). Whykickamoocow: Curious New Zealand Place Names. New Zealand: Random House. ISBN 1-86941-807-7.
  7. ^ Waterman, Shaun (October 24, 2005). "Military interpreter 'used false identity'". UPI Security & Terrorism. Retrieved January 19, 2008.
  8. ^ Makeig, John (December 28, 1991). "Mute suspect nabbed, but identity still at large". Houston Chronicle. p. 29.
  9. ^ Nash, Bruce M.; et al. (2001). The New Lawyer's Wit and Wisdom. Running Press. p. 199. ISBN 0762410639. Retrieved January 19, 2008.
  10. ^ "GNYHA Naming Conventions" (PDF).
  11. ^ "Terminal Lance #114 'Myths and Legends IV'". Terminal Lance. March 18, 2011.
  12. ^ "Telephone numbers for drama use (TV, Radio etc)". Retrieved December 10, 2014.
Last edited on 10 May 2021, at 02:29
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