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My mum always called it the gubbins box. Others prefer blabber, or melly, or doobly, or zapper (occasionally veering into Frank, for obvious reasons), or doofer, or twitcher, or podger, or didge, or ponker, or flipper, or doo-flicky or flicker. Whatever your personal preference, it seems there’s no common agreement among Brits as to what you should call your TV remote control (the words remote and control don’t seem to have been in the running either, oddly enough).
And that’s not the only area in which new slang is being minted every day. Researchers compiling a new Dictionary of Contemporary Slang have discovered that social media, new technology and other new platforms for communication have created a fertile breeding ground for new slang words, and they’re being thrown out at a feverish pace.
Tony Thorn, the author of the dictionary, told the Sunday Times: “Once associated with enclosed communities such as the prison, the army barracks, the factory floor and the older public schools, more recently slang has escaped its boundaries and is running wild.”
So much so, in fact that the humble remote has 57 entries in the dictionary. Lord alone knows what that means for areas of the human body that are most often euphemised—such as the you-know-what, the down-belows and the unmentionables—those must run into the hundreds.
Some zapper suggestions don’t even register as words, once written down. Would you know what to do if someone asked you to pass the dawicki? Neither would I.
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See more posts by Fraser McAlpine
Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 15 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME, Guardian and MSN. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Radio 2.
He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage.
Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic