Thingamajig Thursday: dragées

It's Thursday folks, and you know what that means! Before I name a new thingamajig, I must make good on my promise to pick a winner from last week's open call to rename the banal ski pole "basket."

Most creative has to go to Anthony for his "desinkificator." While bragging rights for Wittiest goes to Dawn for "No-Snow-Low-Go." Priceless guys, thanks!

Now today I'm naming those small, ball bearing-like balls, usually silver-colored and used for decorating cookies, cake, and other such sweets. They're called dragées and can be traced back to the Greek word, dragéa, or dried fruit. Curiously, in the early 20th century, the sale of dragées was banned as the silver was thought to have mercury in it. Now, they're sold with the following WAY scary disclaimer:

Dragees are to be used as "decoration only" because, per the FDA, they contain trace amounts of metal (ie: silver). They are, however, considered non-toxic. Although people do consume them in some parts of the world, we recommend you remove them before eating confections.

I've always eaten them and assumed, seeing as they were buried in the frosting of a cupcake, they were candy! So you see folks, Thingamajig Thursday doesn't just make you look smarter by naming odd things, it SAVES LIVES!

Thingamajig Thursday: ferrules

It's been a while since our last Thingamajig Thursday. Today I'm naming that slim metal band, or clamp, that wraps around a pencil, holding the eraser in place. You'll also find them stretched around a paintbrush, keeping the bristles tight, or the part of a violin bow that holds the hair to the "frog," or base.

fer.jpgAlso a verb, the word ferrule comes from the Latin viriola, or "small bracelet." So next time you're at Pearl Paint, or even Tiffany's, whip out the dope on ferrules and tell that salesperson what you really want. You might not get any better service, but you'll get a helluva lot of satisfaction showing off your knowledge.In the meantime, let's come up with a better word for the ferrule. I mean, it's a pretty okay work as far as thingamajigs go, but I know you smart readers can do better. Lay them on us.

Thingamajig Thursday: rowels

Time for another Thingamajig Thursday. Today I'm naming those small revolving disks with the sharp points that you find on the end of a cowboy's spurs.

They're called rowels, a word which can be traced back to the Latin root, rotae, which was the name of the wheel on a horse-drawn chariot. As a verb, we derive roto, or, to turn, from the same root.

Though no one knows exactly when people first started putting rowels on spurs, the spur itself is believed to date back to the Roman empire, though you won't find them on any of the sculptures from the period.

brokeback_15.jpgBefore rowels, spurs sometimes had little pointy nubs on the ends of them, which eventually morphed into fixed disks before someone had the smart idea to get those wheels a turning. The fixed disk variety can be seen on the seal of Henry III and by the 14th century, the roweled spur was as standard as the horse itself.

If this post has spurred you on to come up with a better name for the rowel, it's that time again: Let's see what your smart readers can come up with. Drop your improved thingamajig name in the comments below. And if the Brokeback Mountain theme is now stuck in your head, I sincerely, really, honestly do apologize.


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