One of the most interesting things first semester college freshmen discover is the way other kids from different parts of the country speak. They’ll make friends from the Philadelphia area who pronounce “water” as “wooder,” others who fiercely debate between “soda,” “pop,” or “coke,” and, perhaps most surprisingly, even some who call a TV remote “the clicker,” or even “the channel changer,” “the wand,” or “the flipper.”
Slang terminology used to describe remotes is interesting, because of how it’s evolved over the decades. The first remote ever released was actually called the “Lazy Bone,” and it could only turn a TV off and on, and change channels. However, it was actually wired to the TV. Five years, a Zenith engineer named Eugene Polley created the “Flash-matic” remote, which was the first ever wireless TV controller. The Flash-matic had problems working well on sunny days though, making the channels change at random. Then, in 1957, Zenith released the “Space Command” remote control, which used high frequency sounds to communicate with the TV.
The slang term “clicker” came into vogue around the late 1960s. The buttons loudly clicked because they sent an audible, high-pitched noise to a microphone in the console that would change channels or the volume. A small hammer inside the remote actually struck a small tube that resonated. Clickers were eventually discontinued, but the term still stuck in the cultural lexicon.
Nowadays, most people generally refer to the TV remote as the, well, the remote.
Users of Urban Dictionary, a popular Internet slang dictionary, define and describe the remote as, “we lose it as much as our wallets,” “I’m sitting on it. Has a bunch of push buttons on it,” and, most apropos “a powerful object which is the subject of fierce battle between siblings and roommates.”
Even more amusing is the slang that other countries use to refer to their remotes as. According to Independent.ie, an Irish news source, experts have found there are 57 slang words for a remote control, such as a blabber, zapper, melly, and dawicki. What’s more, the English Project hunted for new terms for its “Kitchen Table Lingo” — words used between a family, friends, or colleagues, but didn’t appear in dictionaries. They received hundreds of examples, including “podger,” “blipper,” and “twitcher.”
Whatever you decide to call your remote, it’s always good to choose a term that everyone knows, because in all likelihood you’re frustrated over its missing and want someone to help you find it.
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