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What is so special about widgets anyway?

 9:39 pm on Mar 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

I am intrigued. Where did the reference to widgets originate from? It seems to be the general term for every term we cannot mention. But why widgets?
What is a widget? Are webmasters secretly widgetists?



 9:45 pm on Mar 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

From MSN Encarta dictionary:

wid·get [ wíjjit ] (plural wid·gets)


1. unnamed device: any little device or mechanism, especially one whose name is unknown or forgotten ( humorous )

2. object: a hypothetical manufactured object, considered to represent the typical product of a manufacturer

[Early 20th century. Origin uncertain: perhaps an alteration of gadget.]


 2:04 am on Mar 12, 2004 (gmt 0)


At this forum we're told to use "widget" to replace any specific term or niche name, but seems there are tons of TRUE widget websites online, at least 2Million, some about software and some about hand tools.

Go Google,



 2:09 am on Mar 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

Widgets are also what web developers call little useful things that they can't come up with other names for. The date selector which pops up on airline sites, for example, is called the 'date widget'.


 1:38 pm on Mar 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

As far as I know the device in a can of Guinness to help it pour properly is called a widget


 2:44 pm on Mar 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

The first time I heard the term was in an undergrad economics class (decades before anyone ever heard of the world wide web). If I recall correctly, the professor said that economists used the word "widget" to refer to anything that could be manufactured, so it was always the "widget" company that was in the examples of a company's fixed costs, variable costs, prices, revenue, etc.


 3:10 pm on Mar 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

As Keith says, this one goes back many decades, long before the WWW or beer companies were putting draught devices in the bottom of cans ;-)



 5:18 pm on Mar 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

You're right! It's called a Rocket Widget!

I use little widgets in my sites all the time. We have "flash widgets" and "Java Widgets" It's a great fun term, and I'm surprised at how many people have sites dedicated to them!


 7:52 pm on Mar 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

A few years ago, some company was selling little yellow box openers and they called them widgets. Probably some marketing guy's big idea that flopped.

Ew, i cannot drink guiness from a can.


 12:30 am on Mar 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

I have been thinking about placing an Adwords ad for "Widgets/buy your widgets here" and seeing how many takers I get. But since I am flat out of widgets to sell, I have decided not to.


 6:03 am on Mar 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

There is a group from PubConf that has sworn to replace the term widgets with gerbils in their posts. ;)


 4:23 pm on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

Although the origin of the word is unknown, it seems generally accepted that its first documented appearance was in 1924 in a play called Beggar on Horseback [yaelf.com], by George Kaufman and Marc Connelly.

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