We're all familiar with this strange feeling of casually gliding through a conversation when, suddenly, our minds go blank. "Oh, what’s the name of that thing," we might say. "I'm sure it starts with an A or something..." We're talking about this tormenting sense of being on the verge of remembering a word or a name but failing to retrieve it, no matter how hard we try.
As our minds desperately wander for the right way to express ourselves and fill the temporary void, there's only one thing left to do — come up with a new one. Ideally, you would immediately think of the perfect word that captures the essence of what you were about to say. But that’s rarely the case. So Redditor the_slippery_shoe decided to learn more about these hilarious blunders and reached out to Ask Reddit with a question: "What's the funniest name you've heard someone call an object when they couldn't remember its actual name?"
From "Carpet Banjo" to "moo beasts" and "disco chickens", the things people came up with might be officially absorbed into our vocabularies. We at Bored Panda gathered some of the funniest responses from the thread, so make sure to read them right below. Upvote the ones that made you chuckle and share your own mishaps with us in the comments!
#1Boyfriend's mother once referred to a peacock as a disco chicken.
Image credits: Mushylump
#2To this day most of my family refers to a strainer/colander as a "noodle stay, water go" because my older brother called it that once when he couldn't find it and needed to ask where it was.
Image credits: starshock990
We are certain we know the word we are looking for. The missing term is just within arm’s reach, but for some reason, we find it impossible to recall. We end up feeling frustrated, unsure of our abilities and surprised by how these failures can occur even with the most common words we use. Interestingly, this experience has a scientific term — the tip-of-the-tongue (TOT) phenomenon. As you can guess, it derives from the phrase "it's on the tip of my tongue" and psychologists define it as a feeling that accompanies the momentary inability to retrieve information from memory.
William James was the first psychologist to describe the TOT phenomenon, though he did not label it as such. "The state of our consciousness is peculiar. There is a gap therein; but no mere gap. It is a gap that is intensely active. A sort of wraith of the name is in it, beckoning us in a given direction, making us at moments tingle with the sense of our closeness and then letting us sink back without the longed-for term," he explained in Principles of Psychology in 1890.
#3A polish exchange student was thirsty after a nightout and didn't know what to say. He pointed to his mouth and said Sahara.
Image credits: Khoasama
#4My friend couldn't remember the word "cow" for some reason, so she googled "moo beast" to remember.
Image credits: HungryParr0t
#5Couple weeks ago I was getting a pack of darts, needed some change for parking meters. As the girl is getting my change out I was panicked, what is it called? My mind blank all I could get out of my dumb maw was "can I have my change in metal money?". In my 30s and the word coin apparently got replaced by some dumb s**t I likely read here
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To learn more about this experience and how widespread it is, we reached out to John Richard Hanley, emeritus professor of neuropsychology in the Department of Psychology at the University of Essex, who studies the tip-of-the-tongue states. Studies have revealed that everyone experiences the inability to retrieve words and information from their memories, and it occurs frequently in everyday life. "As far as we know, the TOT phenomenon is universal," the professor told Bored Panda. "Most languages contain a specific term for a TOT. Moreover, TOTs have been shown to occur even in speakers of a language that does not have a dedicated expression for TOTs."
#6I forgot the word for ‘exterminator’ so I used ‘ant exorcist’ instead.
Image credits: anon
#7"Long sleeved shorts"
I forgot the word for pants.
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#8Christmas Llama instead of reindeer.
Image credits: EduardLaser
This phenomenon might be global, but there seems to be no universally accepted cause for using the wrong words or misspeaking from time to time. However, there are scientific theories that try to explain it. "Some researchers claim that the TOT experience exists in order to tell you that you know the elusive name and that you might be able to retrieve it if you spend more time attempting recall," Hanley said.
"TOT states can occur for common names and for all types of proper names," the professor added. "However, they are particularly frequent for names of people. Long names are more prone to TOTs than short names."
#9My ex called an animal shelter a 'cat refugee camp', I couldn't f*****g breathe
My husband wanted me to pass him the cooking tongs.
Image credits: NiteliteBunnyFrite
#11My mom referred to Guitar Hero as "Carpet Banjo" one time. Me and my friends still call it that.
Image credits: Shell058
We were curious to learn what happens to people when they experience these cognitive issues. Hanley explained that when in a TOT state, "we can recall detailed biographical information about the person; it is only the name that is elusive." Moreover, "we generally even know whether the elusive name contains 2 words (e.g. Gwyneth Paltrow) or 3 words (e.g. Jamie Lee Curtis)."
It’s hard to deny that experiencing a TOT moment can be extremely annoying. After all, it’s not that you can’t remember the concept of that word but that you can’t find a way to express it. When something does trigger your memory and you finally find the language label you were looking for, you feel a wave of relief sweep over your frustration. "One researcher made the point that a TOT can be as intense as a feeling that you are about to sneeze, so I assume that this is true," the professor said.
#12My buddy couldn't find the world for lungs, came up with breath sacks.
Image credits: TheGiantCackRobot
#13I know a german who learned english in wales, its the most amazing cluster f**k of accents.
Anyway, a dog ran off with his gloves and he chased after it shouting, 'come back with my hand shoes!'
Image credits: whatisfishbeef
#14At a house party when this trashed bro comes up to me:
Hey man, I'm about to score. You got one of those . . . uh . . . plastic penis . . . socks?
Image credits: smokehidesstars
Moreover, it seems that this phenomenon becomes more frequent with age. Word-finding problems are nearly a stereotypical element of the cognitive issues that trouble older adults. "We do indeed experience more TOTs in old age, and this is particularly true for the names of familiar people," the professor added. Diary studies have found that TOTs occur about once a week for younger adults and increase to about once a day for older adults. Also, researchers consider that this is caused by older adults showing retrieval failure of known words, and needing more "search" time to find the awol word.
#15My boyfriend thought it was clever when I asked what the right word was for "an angry parade".
#16Growing up, we had a piece of furniture that we didn't know what to call. Was it a bureau? A dresser?
We agreed to call it "Uncle Fred." We forget that's weird until we have company.
Image credits: RainyDayNinja
#17I once had to listen to my mother tell a 10 minute story about all the honkers she saw at the park.
Geese. She meant geese.
Image credits: Knerdian
But it turns out that getting some exercise and leading a healthy life could protect us against language decline in old age. Katrien Segaert, lecturer in the School of Psychology at the University of Birmingham found in her latest study that fitter people are less likely to experience TOT moments than those who lack fitness. "We found that the higher the older person’s aerobic fitness level was, the lower their odds of experiencing a tip-of-the-tongue moment," she wrote. "A person’s age and the number of words a person knows also determine the frequency of experiencing tip-of-the-tongue moments. What is important is that the relationship between the frequency of tip-of-the-tongue moments and aerobic fitness levels exists over and above the influence of a person’s age and vocabulary size."
#18Back in 90s I was 14 and begging my mom to let me go to a Guns n Roses concert..
I kept nagging until she got frustrated but couldnt remember the band name and said:
"I'M NOT LETTING YOU GO TO ANY DAMN DEATH AND FLOWERS CONCERT"
I couldnt stop laughing
Image credits: MetalHead310
#19My buddy once referred to an air horn as 'spray scream'.
#20At one point I started googling "map of the year" because my brain short-circuited and I couldn't recall the word "calendar".
#21When my sister was young, she didn't know the word "cemetary" so she just called it a "dead-people field".
#22Couldn't remember the word Athlete so I went with Sportician.
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#23Breakfast soup. (The word he was looking for was cereal.)
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#24I can't remember the word "lid" half the time. So during work I sometimes run to the back in search of "drink hats". I get weird looks a lot...
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#25Once when my husband was on pain meds (after having surgery), he asked for a "cylindrical water storage device."
Cup. He wanted a cup.
#26Compressed Horse for pony. He was a foreign exchange student from Germany.
#27I once referred to a flyswatter as a "bug spatula" when the name escaped me .
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#28Yesterday, I forgot what the shade is, and it was really hot outside so I told my friend "lets chill at the dark place"
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#29I couldn’t think of the word “robe” so I asked a friend if they’d seen my “towel jacket.”
#30At Target, I asked for "a can of bug-murder". I forgot "insecticide" or even "bug spray". The dude took it in stride, didn't flinch.
#31I met this french girl on a recent trip, and she called it a "muscle hangover", when looking for the word sore.
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#32Couldn't remember groomsmen, went with dudesmaids instead.
#33Toilet paper = s**t tickets
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#34My friend once called his shoulder a 'high elbow'...
#35This came to my mind when I read a post on Reddit where a girl called a feather a "bird leaf".
#36I couldn't remember "oven mitt" so I called it "heat gauntlet." I really like the word gauntlet.
#37I work with a Spaniard who was NOT familiar with some or local fauna.
OK if you're in the city -- bad if you are living at a children's camp.
Someone dropped a toad down his back. Once he extracted himself from the visitor, he asked:
"What do you call this thing? This jumping pile of s**t!"
#38Years ago my boyfriend and I were super baked and he was just like "okay so I know this probably isn't the right word, but can you hand me the volume squirter" he meant tv remote, but the new name stuck. Since then we've always referred to it as a volume squirter.
#39My girlfriend worked at the goodwill and someone had donated a trumpet. But none of her coworkers knew what it was called and she told them it was a trumpet. But for some reason they didn't believe her.
Despite her best efforts, they eventually labeled it "Brass thing" and sold it that way.
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#40Stuck in traffic. SO called to ask how it was. I said it was a*s to mouth over here. I couldn’t remember the phrase “bumper to bumper”.
#41My mum always says wanky candles instead of Yankee candles. She's always horrified when she does it.
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#42When my girlfriend was stoned she asked "how do I turn on the umbrella sticks" when talking about windshield wipers
#43Didn't know what to call people from Japan as a kid so I decided on "Japanicans".
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#44My girlfriend was frustrated because she couldn't find her shoehorn, and then said loudly "WHERE IS THE BOOT SPOON".
#45We were planning to go watch fireworks while the sun was going down, but I couldn't for the life of me think what the word was, so I ended up going with "Last call for the Sun" as me and my friends have all worked in clubs and bars, still can't live that down.
#46I was playing pictionary with some friends, and the prompt was skunk, so I did my best to draw a skunk. My friend yelled "STINKY CAT"
#47I can't remember who said it, but ever since I heard a person call a cupcake a party muffin they are permanently renamed in my mind.
#48Called a labcoat a Science Vest.
Image credits: SneakNSnore
#49My dad let me watch him work on things in the garage when I was little. He thought it was hilarious that I called sparks "fire crumbs"
When my brother was little, we were watching some medical show, and he forgot the term for eye sockets. Instead, he called them "eye ditches".
#50I once called the Navy "the aqua army".
#51I mixed up Hamburger Helper and ended up calling it Beef Aid.
#52My little brother who was around 6 at the time really wanted popcorn, and he asked if he could have some of the "boom puffs."
#53Buddy once called a guitar a "funky lookin' violin" and a raven a "huge a*s crow"
#54Hush puppies were once called "shut up dogs" by my cousin when she couldn't think of the name.
#55When I was learning French, I couldn't remember the word for "toes", so I called them "the fingers of the foot."
Edit: the French word is "orteil"
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#56My unmedicated ADHD (while preggo) caused my mouth to outpace my vocabulary quite often.
I wish I could remember more of them, but my husband won't let me live down "time circle." I meant clock.
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#57English is my boyfriend's second language, frequently he directly translates words if he doesn't know the English version and it usually gets him by.
My favorite was when he inquired about the "Wine Berries".
Image credits: B4_da_rapture_repent
#59I once called toothpase "tooth soap" because it was 8 am and I was not ready for life.
#60I work as a gunsmith...I forgot what calipers were called one day...they are now forever known as "measurydoos"
#61The other week I completely forgot the word "aquarium". My best guess was "fish zoo".
#62Friend is Norwegian. She couldn't remember the English word for "monkey."
Apparently the direct translation of monkey in Norwegian is "ape-cat."
We were watching Harry Potter the other day. Dumbledore is "Bumbletwist."
Another favorite is "Grass Dude," or pineapple.
#63My friend couldn't remember the word "cauldron" one Halloween and referred to it as a "witch bucket."
#64Spinach is "the good lettuce."
#65I've got a little cousin who's quietly a genius at this.
When she was three and just learning the names of different body parts, she got a cut on her ankle playing outside and was trying to tell me. Only she couldn't remember the name for ankle -- so it became her "foot wrist".
The exact reverse happened a few weeks later, when she couldn't remember the name for her elbow, so she called it her "arm's knee".
By far my favorite example, though, is when she couldn't remember the word "remember". She told me a knock-knock joke, and then when I asked her where she got it, she stared at me blankly for a second and said, "...I found it in my head."
"You made it up?" I asked her.
"No...I heard it somewhere, and put it in my head, and then I went in there and found it again."
It's absolutely fantastic. She's six now, and as she learns more words it's starting to happen less and less, but every once in a while she'll whip out a gem. She's probably created more running jokes in our family in her six years than I have in my two decades.
#66Guy I worked with referred to Planned Parenthood as "Planet Parent Hollywood" in all ernesty.
#67My best flub was when I couldn't remember the word for water, so I called it drinking fluid.
#68I've had a mild stroke so sometimes it's hard to think of the right word. My favorite one is "water rope" for garden hose.
#69Called a fan the air blender.
#70Someone from my local subreddit asked her doctor for "anti-baby".
#71I recently struggled to think of the word ‘Oval’, so instead landed on “the circle rectangle”.
#72I once worked with a German guy who asked me what the English word for 'a snail without a house on his back'. Took me a while to work out he meant a slug.
German for slug translates to naked snail.
#73My ex and I were hanging out one day trying to figure out what we wanted to do. I suggested maybe a walk in the park, a trip to the zoo, etc. when all of a sudden his face lit up and he gleefully asked "WHAT ABOUT THE AQUA MUSEUM?!"
It took me a good few seconds to realize he meant the "aquarium".
#74My sister was telling me about how shitty periods are and she wanted to tell me that I would understand when I got a *daughter* but instead she said "youll get it when you get a girlchild".
#75My boyfriend came across a wand on my desk the first time he visited my house. He kinda looked at it, held it up, and goes "did you make this....this *wizarding stick*?"
My mom, who was also present, still hadn't let him live it down three years later.
#76I couldn't remember my wifes sisters name or spit out the word "sister" so I just referred to her as "That girl you're related to that's younger than you".
#77"what is it Jewish people wear on their heads.... Hmm ... Oh, Yamahas"
Bob at work last week.
He also streams neckflick for movies and TV shows.
Bob just turned 60
#78I once called a Ferris wheel a "vertical carousel" because I forgot the name.
#79Look-in-your-ear thing. Listen-to-your-heart thing. Arm-hugging-blood-pressure-pump thing.
Things you might find in a doctor's office.
#80Couldn't remember "camouflage," so I said "Army pattern" instead. Felt like an idiot when my friends corrected me.
#81I was trying to say microscope, but I accidentally called it a reverse telescope..
#82My dad can't pronounce aluminum, but he tries. One time, he was asking for the "aluminum foil" because he was cooking, got sick of stuttering over the pronunciation, and just went with, "Kiddo, can you hand me the shiny paper?"
#83I once forgot the word for "letters" and asked my coworker how many alphabet numbers a word had.
#84I have a few words that I've done this with. My girlfriends favorite is when I called the humidifier the air waterer.
#85My mate once referred to stairs as "the walk-down"
#86Dizzy daisy instead of lazy Susan.
#87My mum who speaks English and couple of Chinese dialects equally well has these:
Animal touch farm = petting zoo
Car immobiliser stick = steering lock
#88English is my boyfriend's second language and while he's fluent, he sometimes directly translates from his native language into English when he can't remember the specific word for something.
The latest one is "water cooker" when really he means "kettle". I've stopped correcting him because I think it's great.
#89My mother needed to clean a tile floor. She wondered if there was some contraption, like a "pole with bristle sticks on the end." We showed her a broom.
#90My boyfriend does this all the time. My favourite ever was "oil boiled" for deep fried but others have included "letter house" (envelope), "potato claws" (kitchen tongs) and "bread cooker" (toaster).
#91Once had a friend who called an ambulance a hospital van.
#92During chemistry, a friend of mine asked me to pass him the 'temperature rod'. He wasn't trying to crack a joke so we all stared at him confusingly.
Turns out, he was referring to the thermometer
#93My dad just referred to my mum's cup of coffee as hot juice.
#94Just this week my wife invented the term "tree chunk" when she forgot the word "wood".
#95Someone once referred to an apostrophe as a "high comma." Still makes me giggle.
#96A friend of mine once said "plane station" instead of airport
#97My girlfriend called a gate, “the fence door.”
#98Couldnt rember knuckle, so i called them finger elbows
#99When hungry a friend once asked if we had any of "those eat things".
#100When my son was around 3 he made up all sorts of names. Some of my favorites were:
Swim dog = Sea Lion
Swim Pig = hippopotamus
Ice Cream Cheerios = Fruit Loops
Halloween Dog = Frankenweenie
#101My wife once referred to a portrait as "Frank Funyion" because she couldn't remember the name "Paul Bunyan"
Frank Funyion is now forever immortalized in our household in a painting.
#102My dad accidentally called Chipotle Chipoodle once. He got very angry when my brother and I wouldn’t stop laughing at him.
#103My boyfriend's mum once called a triangle a 'squared off diamond'
#104I forgot what the letter G was called the other day so i referred to it as the 'round K'.
No, I don't know where I was going with that either.
#105I was out drinking with a Dutch friend of mine. He forgot the word for sidewalk and called it a pedestrian road.
#106"Coldness quarantine" when I forgot the name for a cooler.
I hadn't even had any of the alcohol that was in the cooler, my brain just decided to stop working for a second...
#107Once had someone order a drink from me, but they struggled when I asked if they needed a garnish. They settled for "green lemon", they were thinking of lime.
Edit: I guess lime is literally translated as green lemon in many languages, so that’s neat.