oojamaflip noun earlier than 1969

‘Bryn’ supplied verifiable evidence from earlier in 1969.

Like thingamabob or whatchamacallit, oojamaflip (also spelled whojamaflip, hoojamaflip, etc.) is a word used to refer to something a person doesn’t know the name of, or doesn’t wish to specify precisely. The earliest evidence OED‘s researchers have found for the word so far is from 1969, in a pair of advertisements for a product whose precise nature is (appropriately) unclear:

The oojamaflips are coming.

1969 Times 7 Apr., p. 14

and, a few days later—

The oojamaflips are here—orange, blue, curry, grey—97/6 plus 7/6 p. & p.

1969 Times 12 Apr., p. 18

Can you find earlier evidence of oojamaflip? It probably arose as an elaboration of oojah, which is attested in a similar use from 1917.

Posted by OED_Editor on 29 August 2013 11.34
Comments: 3


  • Bryn_Wordhunt

    Although oojamaflip derives from the phrase, for a whatchamacallit, the specific [1969] Times usage given is an advert, by the Perrings furniture group, and is most likely to refer to a particular brand of [twin-level] trolley.

    The VADS online resource has a picture of one and gives “Progress Advertising Limited” as the designer [c.1969] of the trolley’s packaging.

    Hence, patent(s), trademark(s), marketing, etc., along with internal material from the manufacturer, which some sites give as Staples & Co. [or similar, within Progress, for the packaging design], seem likely to predate the current [1969] usage.

    • Bryn_Wordhunt

      A, marginally, earlier usage – of the brand name, not the noun.

      Paula Davies (1969) Paula Davies at the Ideal Home Exhibition: Now A Conservatory Bathroom, Catholic Herald, 28th March, p.3, observed:

      There was an exception, however, in a folding trolley which rejoices in the clever name of The Oojamaflip. You can carry it in one hand and flick it open in a second. Like most ‘trolleys you can use it for anything from a baby’s clobber to an adult’s supply of alcohol.

      …the trolley … won a Blue Ribbon Award at this year’s exhibition …

  • Bryn_Wordhunt

    Since oojah was the OED Word of the Day, yesterday, non-subscribers got a brief glimpse of that entry; which did seem to throw up a few points of interest, that may assist with the search for a link between oojah and oojamaflip:

    The Punch cartoon [Vol. 152: 24th January, 1917, p.52] , with the caption “NCO: Here just grab the oojah an’ dash round to the tiddley-om-pom for some umpty-poo”, would seem to antedate, the [July 1917] Washington Post article that is, currently, listed for the first recorded usage.

    “Slang from the War” [by `a Hospital Orderly’], in The Sunday Times, 3rd June, 1917, p.5, seems to both antedate that [July 1917] Washington Post usage and to be where the passage ” `Pass the Oojah,’ says the one-armed man who is playing billiards …” is actually taken from – presumably, both The Sunday Times and the Washington
    articles are linked to Ward Muir’s book [ given as the second entry, by the OED].

    The Punch cartoon and the ANZAC slang’s link to the Fullerphone** would seem to suggest regular [if not widespread] usage during 1916.

    Whilst the OED entry noted Hoojah / Oojah / Oojar / Ujah, as alternative forms, it gave an example only for Ujah; however, within the Trove database, Hoojah seems to appears on 8th April 1918, whilst Oojah follows on, 30th September 1918.

    ** if link is `broken’, select “O” from the drop-down menu in the “filter box”