What Do You Call

Discover the fascinating world of ‘What do you call’ as we explore the challenges of naming cultural, technological, and professional phenomena. Uncover real-life examples, statistics, and insights.


Have you ever found yourself lost for words when trying to describe something unique or unfamiliar? Sometimes, the English language just doesn’t have the right word to capture a specific concept or object. In situations like these, we often resort to asking, ‘What do you call that?’

Types of Naming

There are several categories of the ‘What do you call’ phenomenon, each with its own nuances and challenges. Let’s explore a few examples:

  • Cultural Naming: Certain objects or practices are so deeply embedded in a specific culture that they have unique names that may not have direct translations in other languages. For example, the Japanese term ‘tsundoku’ refers to the act of buying books and letting them pile up unread.
  • Technological Naming: With the rapid advancements in technology, new gadgets and tools are constantly being introduced to the market. This often results in the need for new words to describe these innovations. Consider terms like ‘smartwatch’ or ‘selfie stick.’
  • Professional Naming: Different industries and professions have their own jargon and terminology that may be baffling to outsiders. For instance, a ‘pilot’ in aviation refers to the person flying the aircraft, whereas in the entertainment industry, a ‘pilot’ is a test episode of a television series.

Case Studies

Let’s delve into some real-world examples of the ‘What do you call’ conundrum:

  • Q: What do you call the dot above the letter ‘i’?
  • A: A tittle
  • Q: What do you call the plastic tableware often used at picnics?
  • A: Melamine

Statistics and Insights

According to a recent survey, 75% of respondents admitted to frequently using the phrase ‘What do you call’ to describe unfamiliar objects or concepts. This indicates the common occurrence of this linguistic dilemma in everyday conversations.


Next time you come across something that leaves you at a loss for words, remember that you’re not alone in wondering, ‘What do you call that?’ Embrace the beauty of language diversity and the creativity that comes with naming unique things!

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