Mental Floss

Thingamajig Thursday: fobs

David K. Israel

Another Thursday, another thingamajig! Today I'm naming those medallion-like thingamajigs you see looping/hanging/dangling from men's pocket in those old photos where they're all nattyed up in formal wear. You know what I'm talking about: the chain-like thing that gives the plain-black tails a little color around the waist area.

I've always known it was connected to the pocket watch, but I never knew what that thing was called. Whelp, it's called a fob folks. No, not as in "friends of Bill," but as in the Low German word Fobke, or "small pocket."

Indeed, the little watch pocket cut into men's dress pants is also called a fob, as is the decorative part of a keychain, the Mickey Mouse or the mini-flashlight, or whatever you've got going on. (Actually, it would be fun to know what you readers do have going on! I'll tell you that my key fob is a Philadelphia Phillies "P." )
Aside from being decorative, the watch fob was (is still?) used to pull the pocket watch out of the pocket. So it served a function. Here are a couple photos I found. Dig that gent's fob hanging out on the left near his hand-in-pocket.