Mental Floss

Thingamajig Thursday: Aglets

David K. Israel

Today I'm reviving a long-lost feature few of you might remember: Thingamajig Thursday. The basic concept used to be that every thursday (give or take), I'd take a close look at some interesting thingamajig - or thingamabob, if you prefer "“ and let you know the real name of it so you could appear a tad smarter than the next guy, who's still foolishly calling the thingamajig a thingamajig.

I'll spend some time reviving a few of my favorites from the blog's incipient summer days of 2006, and then start with a whole bunch of new ones. This time around, however, I'd love it if you all would join me in trying to rename the thingamajig in question. Most of these have rather lame sounding names. I know you guys love to show off your creative sides, so have at it! I'll pick one or two of my favorites and post them the following thursday for the whole world to see. Who knows? Maybe you'll even succeed at coining a new thingamajig word.

So let's start with the aglet or aiglet, as it's sometimes spelled. An aglet is that funny plastic or metal cap thingamajig at the end of your shoelace, which is supposed to keep the lace from unraveling. (Though try telling that to my 9-month-old Jack.) The word itself, which can be traced back to the Latin, acus, or needle, is pronounced AG-let, with the accent on the first syllable, not ag-LET. Were the accent on the second syllable, it might be fun to substitute the word into that Frank Sinatra song and sing, "Aglets, I've had a few...."

Now: if you've got a heck of a lot of free time on your hands, you might want to learn how to repair broken aglets here, at

And I'll leave you with Wiki, who has some additional interesting info on the little aglet, as well:

Before the invention of buttons, [aglets] were used on the ends of ribbons to fasten clothing together. Sometimes they would be formed into small figures. Shakespeare calls this type of figure an "aglet baby" in The Taming of the Shrew.

So, had I invented this thingamajig I'd have called it a fraynot. How about you guys?