List of placeholder names by language
This article possibly contains original research. (February 2016)
This is a list of placeholder names (words that can refer to things, persons, places, numbers and other concepts whose names are temporarily forgotten, irrelevant, unknown or being deliberately withheld in the context in which they are being discussed) in various languages.
Arabic uses Fulan, Fulana[h] (فلان / فلانة) and when a last name is needed it becomes Fulan AlFulani, Fulana[h] AlFulaniyya[h] (فلان الفلاني / فلانة الفلانية). When a second person is needed, ʿillan, ʿillana[h] (علان / علانة) is used. The use of Fulan has been borrowed into Spanish, Portuguese, Persian, Turkish and Malay, as shown below.
Assyrian Neo-Aramaic Edit
Inna ܐܸܢܵܐ or hinna ܗܸܢܵܐ are used for "thingy", "thingamabob", etc. "Ayka dre-li inna?” roughly translates to "Where did I put the thingamabob?”
A verb of the root '-N-L (ܐܢܠ) likely derived from the noun is used to express actions similarly; for verbs that don't immediately come to mind. Though not directly translatable into English, e.g. "Si m’annil-leh" roughly translates to "go do that thing".
Bengali uses the universal placeholder ইয়ে iay. Its generally placed for a noun which cannot be recalled by the speaker at the time of his/her speech. ইয়ে iay can be used for nouns, adjectives, and verbs (in conjunction with light verbs). অমুক omuk can also be a placeholder for people or objects. ফলনা/ফলানা folona/folana and its female equivalent ফলনি foloni is a placeholder specific to people. The phrase এ যে e je roughly translates to "you know" although the literal meaning is "this that". To refer to an extended family or generation the phrase চৌদ্দ গোষ্ঠী chouddo goshthi is used. It can also mean "everyone one knows", when used in a context of telling your "chouddo gosthi" something and not keeping a secret.
In Bulgarian, такова (takova, such) or таковата (takovata, lit. the such) can be used in place of a noun, and таковам(takovam) as a verb.
Placeholder names for people include: Иван (Ivan), Драган (Dragan) and Петкан (Petkan); used in this order. Ivan is the most common Bulgarian name, while the other two are quite old-fashioned. Петър Петров (Petar Petrov) is most commonly an ordinary person with no interesting qualities.
A colloquial placeholder name for towns is the railway junction of Kaspichan, which often bears the connotation of a far-off forgotten place. Villages could be referred to as Горно Нанадолнище (Gorno Nanadolnishte), literally "Upper Downhill".
In Hong Kong, Chan Tai Man (Chinese: 陳大文) is commonly used as a placeholder. Chan (Chinese: 陳) was chosen because it is a common surname in the Hong Kong population. Tai Man (Chinese: 大文) is chosen because it has fewer strokes which makes it easy to write. Besides, Chinese: 路人甲 which means "Passerby A" or Chinese: 無名氏 which means anonymous could also be used.
In legal proceedings, Mr/Miss/Mrs X / Y / Z could be used when the court decides to protect the victim's real identity, particularly in sexual criminal case.
There are several placeholder words for things such as toto, tentononc, udělátko (gadget), bazmek, hejble, blbinec, hajzl etc.
Jan Novák or Josef Novák for men and Eva Nováková or Marie Nováková for women are Czech versions of John Doe/Jane Doe.
A placeholder name for a distant place is Tramtárie, for a remote village Kotěhůlky or Horní Dolní ("Upper Lower"), for a crazy town Kocourkov etc. Another word for remote place is prdel.
The phrase "kde dávají lišky dobrou noc" (literally, "where the foxes say goodnight") refers to a remote and isolated place, like "the middle of nowhere".
In Danish a common placeholder word is dims (derived from German Dings), used for small unspecified objects (gadgets). Long, thin and pointy objects may be called javert or javertus, derived from the verb jage in the meaning 'thrust'. Other placeholders for objects are dingenot, dimsedut, dippedut, huddelifut, himstregims, himstregimst and tingest; sager (lit. 'stuff') and grej (lit. 'gear').
In common parlance and as a placeholder a variety can be used. Navn Navnesen (Name Nameson) is an example.
In civil law A, B, C etc. are used. In criminal law T is used for the accused (tiltalte), V is a non-law enforcement witness (vidne), B is a police officer (betjent) and F or FOU is the victim (forurettede). When more than one a number is added, e.g. V1, V2 and B1, B2.
Faraway countries are often called Langtbortistan, lit. Farawayistan. Langtbortistan was first used in 1959 in the weekly periodical Anders And & Co as Sonja Rindom's translation of Remotistan. Since 2001 it has been included in Retskrivningsordbogen as an official Danish word.
Backwards places in the countryside are called Lars Tyndskids marker, lit. The fields of Lars Diarrhea. Similarly Hvor kragerne vender, lit. Where the crows turn around may also be used for denoting both a far away and backwards place at the same time.
The expression langt pokker i vold is a placeholder for a place far far away e.g. he kicked the ball langt pokker i vold.
In Dutch the primary placeholder is dinges (derived from ding, "thing"), used for both objects and persons, and sometimes turned into a verb (dingesen). The diminutive of ding, dingetje (lit. "little thing" or "thingy") serves as a placeholder for objects when used with an article, and for persons without.
In Belgian Dutch you can call a small village 't hol van pluto ('the hole of pluto') or Bommerskonten.
The equivalent of John Doe for an unspecified (but not an unidentified) person is Jan Jansen ("Jansen" being one of the most common Dutch surnames), or in vulgar speech Jan Lul ("John Dick"); Jan met de korte achternaam ("John with the short surname") is used in the place of Jan Lul to avoid vulgarity. Jan Modaal ("John Average") is the average consumer and Jan Publiek ("John Public") and Jan met de pet ("John with the cap") the man in the street while Jan Soldaat (John Soldier) is the average soldier.
In Belgium, the Dutch name for an unspecified person is sometimes said to be Jef Van Pijperzele, though most people just use Jan Jansen instead. Jef is a common pet form of Jozef. Another pet form is Jos. The average couple may be Mieke en Janneke (Molly and Jenny) or Janneke en Mieke. In 2010 the politician Geert Wilders introduced Henk en Ingrid as to describe the average Dutch couple. For some time, lower class young people were called Sjonnie en Anita.
Elckerlyc (literally 'Every-body' in old Dutch) is a character from a medieval play Elckerlyc en de Dood (Everyman and Death). It is sometimes used to say any mortal.
Obscure, faraway places are Timboektoe (inspired by Dutch Donald Duck comics) and Verweggistan ('Faraway-i-stan'). Lutjebroek, a real village, is also used in this sense. The fictitious village Bommerskonte (also spelled as Bommerskonten) is small, not very important and in Flanders. Bommelskont and Schubbekutteveen are equivalents in the Netherlands.
Similar to German, the word for an unknown amount is Tig, used like "umpteen". It stems from the suffix used for double-digit numbers (Twintig twenty, Veertig forty), and is usually used in an aggravated context. Ik heb dat al tig keer geprobeerd! ("I've tried that umpteen times already!").
In Ancient Egypt, the names Hudjefa and Sedjes, literally meaning "erased" and "missing", were used by later Egyptian scribes in kings lists to refer to much older previous pharaohs whose names had by that time been lost.
"Juan dela Cruz", or simply "Juan", is both a national personification as well as representative of the Filipino everyman whose name as is used as a placeholder name. The negative Hudas is a more colloquial term for people the speaker considers to be a malefactor or treacherous. Si anò (personal singular case marker + "what") or Si ganoón (personal singular case marker + "that") are also used for people whose names are temporarily forgotten by the speaker.
As in referring to objects, the Cebuano word kuwán may also be used.
As to time, "kopong-kopong" and "nineteen-forgotten" are playfully derisive terms for anything whose exact year of origin is forgotten, similar to the more "ancient" "panahón (bago) ng mga Hapón" ("time (before) the Japanese") and the even older "Panahón pa ni Matusalém/Mahoma" ("the time of Methuselah/[Prophet] Muhammad)". "Siyám-siyám" (literally "nine-nine") is derisively used for the unknown end of a particularly long time period spent doing something, e.g., "Áabutin ka ng siyám-siyám sa pagkakupad mong iyán!" ("It will take you ages at that pace you're going!").
Härveli one of the most common Finnish placeholder words for technical objects and machinery, it's usually a placeholder for any device which lacks a proper word and often has unknown operating logic, but is useful and has no direct negative association. Hilavitkutin on the other hand is negative and refers to devices that are apparently useless and make no sense. Vehje is a very common thing word for devices and is by default emotionally neutral, but it is also used as slang for the male genital. Laite can be used instead of vehje.
An idiosyncratically Finnish placeholder word is mikälie or mikä lie, literally "whatever (it) may be". It uses the Finnish verb form lie or lienee, meaning "(it) probably is" – i.e., "to be" in the potential mood. This inflected word form is quite rare in everyday speech, which has resulted in its grammatical function being (mis)interpreted by native speakers as a grammatical particle instead of a verb. This, in turn, has given rise to constructions such as mikälie. Analogously persons are kuka lie "whoever he may be", locations missä lie "in wherever", etc.
Juttu has the literal meanings "story", "criminal/court case", or "issue", but may refer to virtually anything inanimate.
Placeholders for people include the ubiquitous Matti Meikäläinen (male) and Maija Meikäläinen (female), and the relatively less common Anna Malli (literally Anna the Model, but can also be understood as "Give me an example", female) or Tauno Tavallinen ("Tauno the Ordinary", male). In official contexts, the initials N.N. (from the Latin nomen nescio, "name unknown") are used.
Meikäläinen means literally "one of us, one of our side", but sounds similar to a genuine Finnish surname, many of which end in "-lainen/-läinen". Sometimes, Totti Teikäläinen (teikäläinen means "one of you people, one of your side") can be used, where a contrast to Matti Meikäläinen is needed.
The common nouns tyyppi "character" or "figure" via Swedish, kaveri "fellow" and joku "someone" may be used as placeholders for persons. Kaveri is often used in an ironic sense about a known person whose name is unknown, in the same sense as "fellow" is used in English. Tyyppi is usually combined with joku to form joku tyyppi for an unknown character with unknown intentions.
The most common placeholder name for a remote location or a "backwater town" is Takahikiä. Actual locations in Finland that have acquired a similar status include Peräseinäjoki and, to some extent, Pihtipudas, though the latter is mostly associated with the proverbial "grandmother from Pihtipudas" explained above. They are usually spelled with a small initial letter when they are used as placeholder names.
Stereotypical foreign, distant places are Timbuktu and Indokiina. Other places, whose actual coordinates are unknown and obscure, but which clearly are far away, are Himputti, Hornantuutti (chute of Hell), Huitsin-Nevada and Hevonkuusi ("Horse's Spruce" cf. in the sticks).
Placeholders for large numbers include ziljoona and biljardi. The latter is a portmanteau of miljardi (109) and biljoona (1012, see Billion). It has an intentional double meaning, as the word also means "billiards", and can also mean 1015.
Military usage Edit
In Finnish military slang, tsydeemi traditionally refers to a special type of socks worn during wintertime. However, it has become a common generic placeholder word outside the military, possibly due to its phonetic similarity to the aforementioned systeemi.
In the Finnish Defence Forces, placeholder names for soldiers include Nönnönnöö (no meaning, derived from N.N.), Senjanen (rendered from genitive Senjasen expanding into sen-ja-sen (this-and-that), Omanimi ("Private His-name") and Te ("Private You"). Any weapon, device or piece of equipment is called vekotin. This has actually pointed to the abbreviation VKT, Valtion Kivääritehdas (State Rifle Factory), and referred to light machine gun VKT23, which originally was called vekotin.
Popular expressions for "really long ago" in Finnish include variations of vuonna miekka ja kypärä ("in the year sword and helmet"). Various other words evoking connotation with medieval or even pre-historic times can also be used in the expression.
In French, an unspecified artifact can be:
- bidule (n.m.); this is from military slang for something in disarray. It most probably comes from a dialectal word meaning "mud".
- machin (n.m.), derived from machine
- truc (n.m.), whose primary meaning is trick
- chose (n.f.), thing
- toutim or tout'l'toutim (plural): things, which is an old term and is seldom used nowadays.
Some of these may be combined in several variations, with truc possibly being appended with the meaningless -muche: "machin-truc", "machin-chose", "bidule-truc-muche" are common combinations.
Schmilblick was a placeholder name in a 60s radio game show for a mystery object discovered by asking questions. It gained fame from a well-known sketch by Coluche and is now commonly used for any strange object. The strip series les Schtroumpfs, whose characters (blue midgets) used schtroumpf for any object and schtroumpfer for any action, led to the use of those two as common placeholders, although it is mainly used for persons. This was recast in English as the Smurfs.
Quebec French also has patente, gogosse, cossin, affaire, bebelle and such (most of which have verb forms meaning "to fiddle with"). Acadian French has amanchure, bardasserie and machine. Louisiana French has machine and maniguette.
In Brussels slang, brol is either a heap of random small objects, or a nondescript object of little value.
In computer science research, toto, titi, tata and tutu sometimes replace the English foo and bar as placeholder names for variables, functions and the likes.
Common placeholder names for people are
- In slang: Tartempion, Machin, Machin-chose, Mec, Trucmuche, Chose-binne, Patante, Duchnoque, Duchmolle; de Machin-Chose to refer to people who carry longish, noble names
- In proceedings and other more formal settings: "X" (Monsieur X), "Y", Monsieur Untel, Madame Unetelle... (see XYZ Affair)
- Pierre-Paul-Jacques or Pierre-Jean-Jacques designates anyone and everyone at the same time, in the third person, in an informal context. The very common Jean Dupont is used the same way as John Doe is in English.
- Monsieur/Madame Tout-le-Monde or Toulemonde (Mr. Everybody), is the average citizen.
- Madame Michu is the average homemaker or (when speaking about technology) a relatively unsophisticated user.
- Lambda, as an adjective, means 'average': le conducteur lambda (the average driver), le citoyen lambda (the average citizen).
- Les Dupont-Durand are the average extended family; they could also be a couple looking for a bargain, e.g. buying an apartment.
- La veuve de Carpentras (the widow from Carpentras, a city in southern France) is the archetypal absolute bear customer in stock exchange literature.
- Pierre et Paul are common characters in jokes. They often appear in mathematical literature about probability theory: many problems begin with Pierre et Paul jouent aux dés (Peter and Paul are throwing dice).
- Toto is also a commonly used name in jokes; when a female character is needed, it is feminized into tata. It is mainly used to evoke a young boy or a naïve person.
- Chose-bottine-pas-d'lacets (in Acadian French) which literally means boot with no laces-guy.
- Trifouillis-les-Oies (small village)
- Perpète, Perpète-les-Oies, Pétaouchnock or Diable vauvert (for a place that is far away)
- Tombouctou (genuine city name in Mali)
- Bab El Oued (Neighbourhood east of Algiers)
- Tataouine (genuine city name in Tunisia).
In French-speaking Belgium, Outsiplou or even Outsiplou-les-Bains-de-Pieds (Outsiplou-the-footbath) is a generic village of Wallonia. There is an actual but little known village near Liège named Hout-si-Plout, whose name means "Listen whether it rains" in Walloon, and a hamlet named Hoûte-si-Ploût in Belgian Luxemburg.
Among French people of North African origin (Pieds-Noirs), Foun-Tataouine is the generic village and Tataouine-les-Bains (Tataouine-the-Baths, les-bains is frequent in the name of spa towns) is the average city, possibly from the village of that name in Tunisia.
Far away rural places:
- Saint-Clinclin, Saint-Meumeu, or Saint-Clinclin-des-Meumeu (far away rural region; "meuh" is the onomatopoeia for mooing)
- Îles Moukmouk (Moukmouk Islands, some far away islands)
- Mille et un (one thousand and one) or trente-six (thirty-six) are used for an unknown large number, as in je te l'ai dit trente-six fois (I said it to you umpteen times).
- Quarante-douze (forty-twelve) and trouze mille (probably short for trente-douze mille, thirty-twelve thousand) are used for random numbers and particularly high random numbers respectively.
- Des poussières (some dust specks) can be joined to any number or measure to add an indefinite small amount, as in deux mètres et des poussières (two meters and a bit).
- Trois fois rien (thrice nothing) is used for a very small amount, as in ça m'a couté trois fois rien (I bought it for a song).
- Des patates (some potatoes, slang) and Des brouettes (some wheel-barrows) are variations of Des poussières in increasing amounts.
A research in Galician language (and Spanish and Portuguese) classified the toponymic placeholders for faraway locations in four groups:
- related to blasphemies and bad words (no carallo, na cona);
- related to religious topics (onde Cristo deu as tres voces, onde San Pedro perdeu as chaves, onde a Virxe perdeu as zapatillas);
- local (Galician) real toponyms (majorly en Cuspedriños, but also en Coirós or en Petelos);
- international toponyms (na China, na Co(n)chinchina, en Tombuctú, en Fernando Poo, en Bosnia);
There is apart a humoristic, unfrequent element, as in en Castrocú. Some can add more than one element (na cona da Virxe). It is also noted the prevalence of the adjective quinto ("fifth").
German also sports a variety of placeholders; some, as in English, contain the element Dings, Dingens (also Dingenskirchen for towns), Dingsda, Dingsbums, cognate with English thing. Also, Kram, Krimskrams, Krempel suggests a random heap of small items, e.g., an unsorted drawerful of memorabilia or souvenirs. Apparillo (from Apparat) may be used for any kind of machinery or technical equipment. In a slightly higher register, Gerät represents a miscellaneous artifact or utensil, or, in casual German, may also refer to an item of remarkable size. The use of the word Teil (part) is a relatively recent placeholder in German that has gained great popularity since the late 1980s. Initially a very generic term, it has acquired a specific meaning in certain contexts. Zeug or Zeugs (compare Dings, can be loosely translated as 'stuff') usually refers to either a heap of random items that is a nuisance to the speaker, or an uncountable substance or material, often a drug. Finally, Sache, as a placeholder, loosely corresponding to Latin res, describes an event or a condition. A generic term used especially when the speaker cannot think of the exact name or number, also used in enumerations analogously to et cetera, is the colloquial schlag-mich-tot or schieß-mich-tot (literally "strike/shoot me dead", to indicate that the speaker's memory fails him/her).
A generic (and/or inferior) technical device (as opposed to i.e. a brand item) is often called a 08/15 (after the WWI-era MG 08 machine gun, whose extensive mass production gave it its "generic" character) pronounced in individual numbers null-acht-fünfzehn.
The German equivalent to the English John Doe for males and Jane Doe for females would be Max Mustermann (Max Exampleperson) and Erika Mustermann, respectively. For the former, Otto Normalverbraucher (after the protagonist of the 1948 movie Berliner Ballade, named in turn after the standard consumer for ration cards) is also widely known. Fritz or Fritzchen is often used as a placeholder in jokes for a mischievous little boy (little Johnny), -fritze for a person related to something, as in Fahrradfritze (literally Bicycle Fred, the (unspecified) person who repairs, or is in some way connected to, bicycles). In a similar vein there is Onkel Fritz (lit. Uncle Fred).
There is also Krethi und Plethi, Hinz und Kunz, or Hans und Franz for everybody similar to the English Tom, Dick and Harry if not in a slightly more derogatory way. For many years, Erika Mustermann has been used on the sample picture of German ID cards ("Personalausweis"). In Austria, Max Mustermann is used instead. Sometimes the term Musterfrau is used as the last name placeholder, possibly because it is felt to be more politically correct gender-wise. When referring to an "Average Joe", the names Otto Normalverbraucher and Lieschen Müller (female) are commonly used, corresponding to the American "The Joneses". Otto Normalverbraucher is taken from bureaucratic jargon of post-World War II food rationing via the name of a 1948 film character (played by Gert Fröbe), while the name Lieschen Müller became popular in the year 1961 due to the movie Der Traum von Lieschen Müller. Military jargon also includes Jäger Dosenkohl ("Private Tinned-Cabbage") and Jäger Haumichblau ("Private Beat-Me-Blue") as derogatory placeholders for the name of a (poorly-performing) recruit. In Cologne, Otto (which can also refer to a gadget) and Gerdi are popularly used for men or boys and women/girls with unknown first names. Bert also had some popularity as a placeholder for names in the past.
For remote or exotic locations, Germans use Timbuktu, Buxtehude, Walachei (Wallachia), Weitfortistan (weit fort = far away), wo der Pfeffer wächst ("where the pepper grows"). Other, somewhat derogatory terms for remote locations are Arsch der Welt ("arse of the world") or Arsch der Heide ("arse of the heath"). For towns or villages in the German-speaking world, Kuhdorf or Kuhkaff or just Kaff (lit. "cow village", somewhat derogatory) and Kleinkleckersdorf (lit. "Little-Messy-Village"), Kleinsiehstenich (lit. "Little-you-don't-see-it"), Hintertupfing/Hintertupfingen (usually implies some small, rural and old-fashioned village) or Dingenskirchen (Ding is German for "thing" and -kirchen is a common ending of village names which is derived from Kirche meaning "church"); in Austria Hinterdupfing is also used. Herr X. aus Y. an der Z., which derives from usage in newspapers ("Mr. X from town Y. on the river Z."), is used occasionally. Other terms such as Bad Sonstwo an der Irgend (lit.: "Somewhere-Else Spa upon Whatever [river]") have been suggested. For remote and rural places there is also the term Wo Fuchs und Hase sich gute Nacht sagen (lit. "where fox and hare tell each other good night"). The abbreviation JWD (short for ganz weit draußen in a Berlin accent that replaces /g/ with /j/), meaning "very far away", is used for remote towns or suburbs (far from the city center). Staycations are spent on Balkonien (sounding like a country, "Balconia", but meaning one's balcony) or at Bad Meingarten (sounding like a spa, but mein Garten means "my garden").
For abstract large numbers the numeral suffix -zig (as in zwanzig = 20, vierzig = 40, sechzig = 60) is used like 'umpteen': Das habe ich schon zigmal gesagt! ('I already said so umpteen times'). An unknown ordinal number is was-weiß-ich-wievielte/r/s ("what do I know how many-th") or drölf (fictional integer whose name is a portmanteau of the words zwölf, 12, and dreizehn, 13). Exponents of 10 are also used as in English.
For an indefinite point in the (far) past zu/seit Olims Zeiten (lit.: "in/since Olim's Time") may be used, olim being Latin for "once", or Anno Tobak, with Anno taken from Anno Domini and Tobak being an antiquated word for tobacco. Alternatives include anno dazumal, anno dunnemals, and anno Schnee. An indefinite point in the future may be called St. Nimmerleinstag ("feast day of St. Never-Again")
In Greek mostly two "official" placeholders for people are used, tade (original meaning was 'these here') and deina (which has been a placeholder since antiquity). There is also the name Foufoutos used more jokingly. Unofficially, most placeholders are improvised, derived from pronouns, such as tetoios "such", apotetoios "the from-such", apaftos, o aftos "the that" or o etsi "the like-that". For locations, stou diaolou ti mana "at the devil's mother" and ston agyristo "to hell/to the place with no return" serve as a placeholder for a distant place.
For time, 30 or 31 February serves as a placeholder for events that will never happen.
The Greek equivalent of John Smith is Yannis Papadopoulos (Γιάννης Παπαδόπουλος) which is considered to be one of the most common names in Greece.
Hawaiian Pidgin Edit
This section needs additional citations for verification. (May 2021)
In Hebrew, the word זה (zeh, meaning 'this') is a placeholder for any noun. The term צ׳ופצ׳יק (chúpchik, meaning a protuberance, particularly the diacritical mark geresh), a borrowing of Russian чубчик (chúbchik, a diminutive of чуб chub "forelock") is also used by some speakers.
The most popular personal name placeholders are מה-שמו (mah-shmo, 'whatsisname'), משה (Moshe = Moses) and יוֹסִי (Yossi, common diminutive form of Yosef) for first name, and כהן (Cohen, the most common surname in Israel) for last name. However, in ID and credit card samples, the usual name is ישראל ישראלי (Yisrael Yisraeli) for a man and ישראלה ישראלי (Yisraela Yisraeli) for a woman (these are actual first and last names) – similar to John and Jane Doe.
The traditional terms are פלוני (ploni) and its counterpart אלמוני (almoni) (originally mentioned in Ruth 4:1). The combined term פלוני אלמוני (ploni almoni) is also in modern official usage; for example, addressing guidelines by Israel postal authorities use ploni almoni as the addressee.
In the Talmud and in Jewish religious reasoning, and notably in responsa, personal placeholder names are often ראובן (Reuven) and שמעון (Shimon), the names of the first- and second-born of the patriarch Jacob's twelve sons (as told in Book of Genesis).
Especially older Ashkenazi often employ the Yiddish placeholders Chaim Yankel and Moyshe Zukhmir ("zukh mir" meaning "look for me" in Yiddish). Buzaglo (a typical Moroccan Jewish surname) is a somewhat derogative placeholder for a simple lower-class citizen, particularly of Mizrahi descent (that is, Jews of Middle Eastern or North African origin). The term Buzaglo test was coined in the 1970s by Aharon Barak, the Israeli Attorney General at the time, for the proposition that the law should apply with equal leniency (or severity) to a senior public official and to the simplest ordinary citizen.
In Hungarian the word izé (a stem of ancient Uralic heritage) refers primarily to inanimate objects but sometimes also to people, places, concepts, or even adjectives. Hungarian is very hospitable to derivational processes and the izé- stem can be further extended to fit virtually any grammatical category, naturally forming a rich family of derivatives: e.g. izé whatchamacallit (noun), izés whatchamacallit-ish (adjective), izébb or izésebb more whatchamacallit(ish) (comparative adjective), izésen in a whatchamacallitish manner (adverb), izél to whatchamacallit something (transitive verb), izéltet to cause someone to whatchamacallit (transitive verb), izélget to whatchamacallit continually (often meaning: pester, bother – frequentative verb). (In slang izé and its verbal and nominal derivatives often take on sexual meanings). In addition to its placeholder function, izé is an all-purpose hesitation word, like ah, er, um in English. Words with a similar meaning and use are cucc, usually translated as 'stuff', and bigyó, translated as either 'thing'/'thingie' or 'gadget'. More complex objects such as electronic devices, and especially novelty items could be referred with either bigyó (gadget) or készség (roughly 'contraption').
To name things, Hungarians also use micsoda (what-is-it), hogyhívják or hogyishívják (what-it's-called), miafene (what-the-heck), bigyó (thingie), miafasz ('what-the-fuck', literally 'what-the-dick').
John Smith (US: John Doe) is Kovács János or Gipsz Jakab (lit. John Smith or Jake Gypsum, or Jakob Gipsch, with surname followed by given name, as normal in Hungarian). However these names are not used in official reports (for example instead of US John/Jane Doe ismeretlen férfi/nő (unknown male/female) would appear in a police report). Samples for forms, credit cards etc. usually contain the name Minta János (John Sample) or Minta Kata (Kate Sample). Gizike and Mancika, which are actual, though now relatively uncommon, female nicknames, are often used to refer to stereotypically obnoxious and ineffective female bureaucrats. Jokes sometimes refer to an older person named Béla (a quite common male given name), especially if it is implied that he is perverted or has an unusual sexual orientation despite his age.
As for place names, there is Mucsaröcsöge or Csajágaröcsöge, little villages or boonies far out in the countryside, and Kukutyin or Piripócs, villages or small towns somewhere in the countryside. A general place reference is the phrase (az) Isten háta mögött, meaning "behind the back of God", i.e. 'middle of nowhere'.
In Icelandic, the most common placeholder name is Jón Jónsson for men, while Jóna Jónsdóttir is used for women. The common or average Icelander is referred to as Meðaljón (average Jón).
The Icelandic version of the Nordic words for faraway places is Fjarskanistan or Langtíburtistan. This and the other Nordic counterparts come from Donald Duck comic magazines, in which Donald tends to end up in that country if he doesn't play his cards right.
There is no single name that is widely accepted, but the name of Sukarno, Indonesia's first president, can be found in many articles; it has the advantages of being Javanese (about 45% of the Indonesian population), a single word (see Indonesian name), and well-known.
Other male names: Joni (Indonesian for Johnny), and Budi (widely used in elementary textbooks). Ini ibu Budi (this is Budi's mother) is a common phrase in primary school's standardized reading textbook from 1980s until it was removed in 2014. Popular female placeholder names are Ani, Sinta, Sri, Dewi.
Fulan (male) and Fulanah (female) are also often found, especially in religious articles (both are derived from Arabic).
Common Irish placeholders for objects include an rud úd "that thing over there", an rud sin eile "that other thing", and cá hainm seo atá air "whatever its name is".
In Irish, the common male name "Tadhg" is part of the very old phrase Tadhg an mhargaidh (Tadhg of the market-place) which combines features of the English phrases "average Joe" and "man on the street".
This same placeholder name, transferred to English-language usage and now usually rendered as Taig, became and remains a vitriolic derogatory term for an Irish Catholic and has been used by Unionists in Northern Ireland in such bloodthirsty slogans as "If guns are made for shooting, then skulls are made to crack. You've never seen a better Taig than with a bullet in his back" and "Don't be vague, kill a Taig".
A generic male person can also be called Seán Ó Rudaí ("Sean O'Something", from rud "thing") or Mac Uí Rudaí ("O'Something's son"). Additional persons can be introduced by using other first names and inflecting the family name according to normal Irish conventions for personal names, such as Síle Uí Rudaí ("Sheila O'Something") for a married or elder woman and Aisling Ní Rudaí for a young or unmarried woman.
Paddy, another derogatory placeholder name for an Irish person, lacks the sharpness of Taig and is often used in a jocular context or incorporated into mournful pro-Irish sentiment (e.g. the songs "Poor Paddy on the Railway" and "Paddy's Lament"). By contrast, the term Taig remains a slur in almost every context. Biddy (from the name Bridget) is a female equivalent placeholder name for Irish females.
Also note that the Hiberno-English placeholder names noted above (Yer man, Yer one and Himself/Herself) are long-established idioms derived from the syntax of the Irish language. Yer man and yer one are a half-translation of a parallel Irish-language phrase, mo dhuine, literally "my person". This has appeared in songs, an example of which is The Irish Rover in the words "Yer man, Mick McCann, from the banks of the Bann".
In Italian, standard placeholders for inanimate objects are roba (literally 'stuff'), coso (related to cosa, 'thing'), less commonly affare (literally 'deal' or 'business'), and even less commonly aggeggio ('device' or 'gadget').
Come si chiama (literally 'what's it called') is also used for inanimate objects, expecting to be prompted by the listener with the correct word.
Vattelapesca ("go and catch it"), was once very much used for rare or uncommon objects. Now this term is quite obsolete.
The verb cosare, derived from cosa, is sometimes used as placeholder for any other verb.
For people, widely used words are again Coso as a substitute for a proper noun, while a generic person is a tizio (see below for the Latin origin of this) or a tipo ('type') as well as uno ('one'). The latter is not accompanied by any article and disappears when used along with a demonstrative; thus, a guy is un tipo or uno, whereas that guy is quel tipo or just quello. The feminine versions are tizia, tipa (colloquial), and una, respectively. In the Venice area one can say Piero Pers ("Peter the Lost") for an unknown person.
Mario Rossi is a generic placeholder for people, especially in examples where first name and family name should appear, like in credit cards advertising. Mario Rossi is formed coupling one of the most used male first names in Italy, with one of the most frequent family names. Other common placeholder names for people are Pinco Pallino and Tal dei Tali.
Also, there are specific terms (from male names common in ancient Rome) for six unnamed people. These terms, from administrative and jurisprudential texts, are Tizio, Caio, Sempronio, Mevio, Filano, and Calpurnio, but only the first three are used in current speech. They are always used in that order and with that priority; that is, one person is always Tizio; two persons are always Tizio e Caio; and three persons are always Tizio, Caio, e Sempronio.
A place far away and out of reach is a casa del diavolo ('at the devil's house') or, more vulgarly, in culo alla luna ('in the moon's butt') or in culo ai lupi ('in the wolves' butt'). The same idea can be expressed by the name of the Sicilian town of Canicattì, as well as by the two regional expressions (mostly confined to Sicily) dove ha perso le scarpe il Signore ('where the Lord lost his shoes') and dove ha perso la camicia Cristo ('where Christ lost his shirt').
The most commonly used placeholder for a number is the generic "tot", from the Latin for "many", but which can also be used for small quantities. Other placeholders used for numbers are cinquantaquattro (54), cinquantaquattromila (54,000), and diecimila (10,000). The suffix –anta is used for ages in the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s (from quaranta, 40; cinquanta, 50; sessanta, 60; settanta, 70; ottanta, 80; and novanta, 90); thus, the expression essere sui quaranta is used to say that someone is in his or her forties, although the same meaning is also commonly expressed by essere sulla quarantina, and so on along the same pattern (on the model of the suffix –antina).
ICT usage Edit
In information technology, especially in textbooks, citation needed][
In Japanese, naninani (なになに, a doubled form of the word nani, meaning 'what') is often used as a placeholder. It does not necessarily mean a physical object. For example, it is often used to stand in for an omitted word when discussing grammar. Similarly, daredare (だれだれ, doubled form of 'who') can be used for people, and nantoka nantoka (なんとかなんとか, doubled form of 'something') as a variant for things. Hoge (ほげ, no literal meaning) has been gaining popularity in the computing world, where it is used much like foo and bar. Nyoro nyoro (literally "~~") is also a popular placeholder name.
On forms requiring a first and last name, the name Yamada Tarō (山田 太郎 or やまだ たろう) is often used as a place holder. Tarō was once an extremely common name for boys, but it has lost popularity significantly in recent years. Yamada is still a common family name, literally meaning 'mountain rice field'. Occasionally Yamada will be replaced with the name of the company who created the form, for example Rakuten Tarō (楽天 たろう) for forms from Rakuten.
In school textbooks, they use letters as placeholders of names especially in conversations.
The symbol 〇〇/○○ (まるまる, maru-maru, meaning 'circle-circle') is used as a general-purpose placeholder, as is chomechome (ちょめちょめ, 'blankety-blank' or 'blah blah blah').
In Kannada, one placeholder name for a common man/woman is "Aparichita" (ಅಪರಿಚಿತ), which translates to 'Unidentified'. Most police reports in Karnataka use this name. E.g., Aparichita Vyakti (ಅಪರಿಚಿತ ವ್ಯಕ್ತಿ). (Vyakti is a gender-neutral way of addressing someone, similar to the English word 'person'.) Most of the articles/reports use gender, as they describe the state of location and conditions of the persons found, followed by skin-tone, height, age, birthmarks, and gender. When addressing a possible living but unknown person, "Anamika" or "Anamadheya" (ಅನಾಮಿಕ ಅಥವಾ ಅನಾಮಧೇಯ), meaning "nameless", are used. Shree Samanya (ಶ್ರೀ ಸಾಮಾನ್ಯ), which translates to "respectable commoner", is another common term used to refer to a living person in general.
In Korean, mwomwomwo (뭐뭐뭐, a tripled form of 뭐, which is a short form of 무엇, the word for what) is used in casual speech. Nugunugu (누구누구, reduplication of who) and eodieodi (어디어디, reduplication of where) can be heard as well.
Hong Gildong (홍길동), the name of a legendary Korean outlaw, is commonly used as a placeholder name in instructions for filling out forms. Amugae (아무개) is another placeholder name, similar to John Doe.
Ch'ŏlsu (철수) as a male name, and Yŏnghŭi (영희) as a female name is also widely used as placeholder names.
This section needs additional citations for verification. (May 2021)
In Latin the word res (thing) is used. Some Latin legal writers used the name Numerius Negidius as a John Doe placeholder name; this name was chosen in part because it shares its initials with the Latin phrases (often abbreviated in manuscripts to NN) nomen nescio, "I don't know the name"; nomen nominandum, "name to be named" (used when the name of an appointee was as yet unknown); and non-nominatus/nominata, "not named".
Formal writing in (especially older) Dutch uses almost as much Latin as the lawyer's English, and, for instance, "N.N." was and is commonly used as a "John Doe" placeholder in class schedules, grant proposals, etc.
In Latvian there is no universal placeholder name. Most entities tend to simply use popular real names, such as the male first name Jānis (John) or the common surname Bērziņš (Birch). As alternative "generalized" names, the male name Pēteris (Peter) and surname Kalniņš (Hill) may be used. These are quite popular Latvian names and surnames and there are quite a number of real people bearing these names and surnames. See, for instance, the disambiguation page for Jānis Bērziņš in the Latvian Wikipedia.). For female first names Grieta, Līga and Maija may be used slightly more often than others.
Mazpisāni is a universal placeholder for small town/village located away from civilization. As a contrast location – somewhat larger, still quite remote – Lielpisāni may be used. Literally these two are translated as "Smallfuck" and "Bigfuck". Also Viķenpicka may be used as a placeholder name for remote town. Dievs vien zin kur ("God only knows where") may also be used.
The constructed language Lojban uses the series brodV (namely broda, brode, brodi, brodo, brodu), ko'V (namely ko'a, ko'e, ko'i, ko'o, ko'u) and fo'V (namely fo'a, fo'e, fo'i, fo'o, fo'u) as pro-forms with explicitly assigned antecedents. However, Lojban speakers had begun to use them as placeholder words, especially in technical discussions on the language. To distinguish both uses, some special markers were created to unambiguously differentiate between anaphoric and metasyntactic usage.
A universal placeholder for a person in Lithuanian are the variations of names Jonas (John), Petras (Peter) and more rarely Antanas (Anthony), like Jonas Petraitis, Jonas Jonaitis, or Petras Petraitis for a full male name and Janina Jonienė for a full female name. The names are often used in the examples of form filling. Also, Vardenis Pavardenis ("Name Lastname") is a common placeholder.
A well-known derogatory placeholder name for a village or a rural town is Bezdonys (an actually existing village). The name literally means "Farting village" in Lithuanian, although it actually originates with nearby lake Бездонный (Bezdonniy), meaning "Bottomless" in Russian.
"Si fulan" and "fulanah" are classical Malay terms for anonymous or unknown people.
In modern Malay, "mat" and "minah" are used in slang for generic people.
The name "Ali bin Abu" is also used as a placeholder name especially when displaying images of ICs.
In Malay, the term "tempat jin bertendang" (the place where the jinn-spirits gather) is used for "the middle of nowhere". This is especially used in the Sarawak, Johor, and Kelantan dialects and nearby Indonesian.
In classical Malay literature, the expression "negeri berantah-antah" means "in a place that is unknown".
In China, question words are used as placeholders. An unspecified object is shénme or shénme shénme (simplified Chinese: 什么什么; traditional Chinese: 什麼什麼; lit. 'what what') and an unspecified location is nǎlǐ (simplified Chinese: 哪里; traditional Chinese: 哪裡; lit. 'where').
The particle mǒu (某) often forms part of a placeholder. It occurs as a prefix of generic nouns (e.g. 某人 "some person"), perhaps with an intervening measure word (e.g. 某一場演出 "a certain show"), or substituting people's actual names (e.g. 李某 "Li Something").
Common placeholder names are:
- Zhang San (simplified Chinese: 张三; traditional Chinese: 張三; lit. 'Zhang Three')
- Li Si (Chinese: 李四; lit. 'Li Four')
- Wang Wu (Chinese: 王五; lit. 'Wang Five')
When more than three placeholders are needed, these are also occasionally used:
- Lu Er (simplified Chinese: 陆二; traditional Chinese: 陸二; lit. 'Lu Two')
- Zhao Liu (simplified Chinese: 赵六; traditional Chinese: 趙六; lit. 'Zhao Six')
- Sun Qi (simplified Chinese: 孙七; traditional Chinese: 孫七; lit. 'Sun Seven')
- Wang Ermazi (Chinese: 王二麻子; lit. 'Wang the Second Pockmark')
Zhang, Li, Wang, Zhao and Sun are among the most common Chinese surnames.
In all kinds of questions in primary and middle schools, these names pop up the most often:
- Xiao Ming (Chinese: 小明; pinyin: Xiǎo Míng)
- Xiao Hong (simplified Chinese: 小红; traditional Chinese: 小紅; pinyin: Xiǎo Hóng) [ commonly used in China ]
- Xiao Li (simplified Chinese: 小丽; traditional Chinese: 小麗; pinyin: Xiǎo Lì) [ commonly used in Malaysia and Singapore ]
- Xiao Jun (simplified Chinese: 小军; traditional Chinese: 小軍; pinyin: Xiǎo Jūn)
The expression 猴年马月 ("monkey year horse month") denotes an unknown but remote time in the future. For example, 等到猴年马月 is often translated as "to wait forever".
In formal legal contexts, Peder Ås (occasionally spelled Aas) and Kari Holm are the generic male and female examples. These are often joined by their adversaries Hans Tastad (male) and Marte Kirkerud (female), together with various members of the extended Ås and Holm families. The first names Marte, Lars, and Kari seem to be very common in both of these families. Most of these people reside and work in the Lillevik ("Small Bay") area and most have accounts in Lillevik Sparebank ("Small Bay Savings Bank"). Some also live in the larger Storby ("Big City").
A placeholder name for a far away country is Langtvekkistan ("Far away-stan"). A placeholder name for a far away place is Huttaheiti, which originally refers to Tahiti. Gokk refers to a cold and unpleasant place and is often used by people from Southern Norway about remote locations in Northern Norway. Der pepperen gror is a notion similar to Gokk, and translates as "where the pepper grows".
Common words for unspecified objects include dings, dingseboms and greie (thingy, gadget). A duppeditt is a small and sometimes useless object. Snurrepipperi (almost always plural) are similar to duppeditt, usually something slight weird and fancy. Krimskrams (almost always plural), borrowed from German, is a random heap of small items.
In Persian, for general purposes the word Folān or felān فلان (borrowed from the Arabic fulān) and Bisār بیسار or Bahmān بهمان is used. It is possible to combine the word folān with the word jā جا for the places, kas کس for humans and chiz چیز for things. For people also the word folāni فلانی or taraf طرف (both from Arabic) and in slang yārū يارو are used. A generic word that's used for calling anything, regardless of which type, is chizچيز "thing" (from the old Persian language).
Common nouns Edit
In Polish, the most popular placeholders are to coś (literally meaning "this something", a widget), cudo ("miracle"), dynks (from the German Ding – regional, specific to the region of Wielkopolska, also used in Silesia where it is spelled dinks), wihajster (from the German Wie heißt er? "What's its name?") and a general placeholder ten teges or, even more often ten tego (lit. "this" in nominative and genitive), which can also be used as a filled pause. There are also other terms, such as elemelek, pipsztok or psztymulec, but they are much less common. Also used are dzyndzel (equivalent to dynks) and knefel (similar to frob, unknown object that can be adjusted or manipulated). For a semi-jocular term equivalent to "contraption" the Russian loan word ustrojstwo (Russian устройство "arrangement, mechanism") is often employed. Amongst young people sometimes całe te is used, literally meaning "all those", which is a phrase often used by comedian Wojciech "Major" Suchodolski.
In press, to avoid details, journalists use the initial letter of a given name of a town, not especially the right one, with N. as predominant. The generic name for a village or a remote small town is Pipidówka, or its more derogatory version Pipidówa. A vulgar, but frequently used term to describe a small and dull place is Zadupie (lit. "somewhere behind the arse") or Zacipie (lit. "somewhere behind the cunt") which is an equivalent of English shithole. Sometimes, although rarely, Pacanów can also be used (almost always in a jocular sense), which has the same meaning as American English Dullsville, but is actually a little town in central Poland.
A more picturesque descriptions include the common phrase gdzie psy ogonami (dupami) szczekają ("where dogs bark with their tails (arses)"), or gdzie diabeł mówi "dobranoc" ("where the devil says goodnight"). An unspecified place situated far from the speaker is called Za górami, za lasami ("over the mountains, over the forests"). Other terms include Pcim Dolny ("Lower Pcim", a non-existent quarter of a village of Pcim) and Kozia Wólka (lit. "Goat's Wolka", Wola and Wólka being frequent names of Polish villages). The typical place of a Polish joke is Wąchock – a small town in Świętokrzyskie in Eastern Poland.
The road leading to any place is sometimes called Droga na Ostrołękę, after the popular Polish film Rejs. Another, vulgar term, is w pizdu (actually a Russian loan word) meaning "somewhere far away" (lit. "into the cunt"). To say that something takes place in the whole country or is simply widespread, Polish native speakers employ phrases like Od Helu do Tatr ("from the Hel to the Tatras"), Od Bałtyku do Tatr ("from the Baltic to the Tatras"), the equivalent of "Land's End to John o' Groats" or "from Orkney to Penzance" in UK English, or "coast to coast" in the USA.
A universal placeholder name for a man is Jan Kowalski (kowal meaning "(black)smith"); for a woman, Anna Kowalska. A second unspecified person would be called Nowak ("Newman"), with the choice of first name being left to the author's imagination, often also Jan for a man; this surname is unisex. Jan is one of the most popular male first names in Polish, and Kowalski and Nowak are the most popular Polish surnames.
Like in mathematics, the letter x ("iks") is used – an imaginary person can be called Iksiński. Mostly in the spoken language, one can hear the fictional name Pipsztycki (fem. Pipsztycka). In logical puzzles fictitious surnames frequently follow a pattern: they start with consecutive letters of Latin alphabet followed by the same ending: Abacki, Babacki, Cabacki etc. for men, Abacka, Babacka, Cabacka etc. for women. In official documents however, an unidentified person's name is entered as NN (abbreviation of Nazwisko Nieznane – name unknown, Nieznany Nam – unknown to us, or Nomen Nescio). Informally, to describe any unknown person, the phrase taki jeden (lit. "such a one") is in common use.
The military slang term for an unknown person is the acronym HGW, standing for vulgar Chuj go wie (lit. "a cock knows him"). Other slang terms include koleś (lit. "mate, pal"); facet or demunitive facio ("guy, bloke") with the feminine forms facetka, facia; and typ, typek (a type) with its corresponding feminine form typiara recently gaining wider usage. Also widespread are gość (lit. "guest") with its derived forms gostek and gościu and a new fashionable word ziomal or ziom (which roughly equates to the American "homie").
Any number can be replaced with X. An indefinite number roughly between 11 and 20 can be kilkanaście (from kilka, "a few", and -naście, the common suffix for numerals from 11 to 19); similarly kilkadziesiąt (-dziesiąt being the common suffix for multiples of ten from 50 to 90) is popular for indefinite numbers larger than 20 but less than 100. These are occasionally shortened to naście and dziesiąt, respectively.
The general word for a large amount is masa (lit. "mass", as in "a mass of errors"). Popular slang expressions are od cholery (roughly equivalent to English "hell of a lot"), od cholery i ciut ciut ("hell of a lot and a little"), and od groma (lit. "from a thunder"). Vulgar terms include w kurwę and od chuja. For very big numbers one sometimes sees the term pierdylion (lit. "fartillion" / "fucktillion") or pierdyliard.
Also the phrase tysiąc pięćset sto dziewięćset (tysiąc + pięćset + sto + dziewięćset = "one thousand" + "five hundred" + "one hundred" + "nine hundred") is often used for any large number (which value may not be known precisely).
For the approximate ending of an especially large number or an undefined decimal fraction of any number bigger than one, the expression z hakiem (lit. "with a hook" meaning "and something") is widespread; sometimes, not only in expressions related to money, one can say z groszami (lit. "with Groschen"; compare English and change).
Among younger generations the number 2137 is used for any random number. It refers to the hour of the death of John Paul II.
Common placeholders for objects in Brazilian Portuguese are treco, troço, bagulho, parada, coisa, trem and negócio, among others. In European Portuguese coiso (masculine of coisa, thing, and not a real word) or cena are often used. In the 2000s, coiso ("thingy") has also been borrowed as slang into Brazilian Portuguese, mainly among the young. Bicho (lit. "beast") is used when the specific animal species is unknown, but also is a reference to any living thing whose name does not come to mind or is not of interest.
Placeholder names for people are usually Fulano (optionally surnamed de Tal), Sicrano and Beltrano, and the corresponding feminines (Fulana, Sicrana, Beltrana). Não-sei-quê/quem/onde/quando/das quantas are quite used as well. In both countries (but quite outmoded in Brazil), João das Couves, Zé das Couves, José dos Anzóis or Zé da Silva are also used, the feminine being Maria (instead of José, which is also often abbreviated to Zé). João Ninguém or Zé Ninguém are used for someone who is unimportant.
Tio and Tia (uncle and aunt respectively) can be used to refer to any unspecified male or female. It is also used between friends to call each other (equivalent to "Hey, you!").
In European Portuguese, one can use the terms "Cu de Judas" (Judas' Ass) and "Cascos de Rolha" (Cork Hull) for remote, isolated and/or rural areas, as in "Lá para Cascos de Rolha" ("somewhere along Cork Hull") or "Ela vive no Cu de Judas" ("She lives in Judas' Ass"). For faraway places, the term Cochinchina is employed both in Brazil and Portugal, and, despite being an actual place, is used in a generic way as a placeholder for somewhere far away. In Brazilian Portuguese two similar terms for distant places are used, "Onde Judas bateu as botas" ("Where Judas died") and "Onde Judas perdeu as botas" ("Where Judas lost his boots") and even further "Onde Judas perdeu as meias" ("Where Judas lost his socks", after he lost his boots).
Tal and poucos when used with another word means "something". For example, "trinta e tal euros" means "thirty-something euros", while "trinta e poucos reais" means "thirty-something reais". It can also be used for years: "Em mil novecentos e oitenta e tal" means "In nineteen-eighty-something". Another form is "tantos" , such as "trinta e tantos anos" meaning "thirty-something" referring to years of age or an uncertain period of years.
Another informal Brazilian placeholder name for numbers, particularly those considered big, either as superlative or in quantities really grueling to count manually, is trocentos e.g. "Aquela patricinha, ela tem não imagino quantos trocentos sapatos e vestidos", which roughly translates as "That clueless wealthy girl, I can not imagine how many trocentos of shoes and dresses she owns". Trocentos is a jocular way of saying trezentos (three hundred).
The verb coisar (formed by a derivation of coisa, "thing") is often used to replace any verb that expresses actions.
In Quechua, there is a noun radical na (whatever) to which verbal (nay = to do whatever), agentive (naq = the doer of whatever), or affective (nacha = cute little thing) suffixes may be added.
- chestie is used for objects and concepts,
- cutare for both persons and things.
- Cutărică, tip (masculine) or tipă (feminine) are sometimes used for persons. Popescu, Ionescu, Georgescu, the most common Romanian surnames, are commonly used to signify everybody, or most people. Ion Popescu, the most common Romanian name is used as an equivalent of John Doe or as a sample name for common paperwork. In a more jocular manner, but still part of colloquially understood Romanian, is combining the word Cutare with the ending of Romania's most common names, creating the word Cutărescu
- Drăcie ("devilish thing") is a derogative placeholder name for objects (but the derogative nuance is not diabolical, it may simply suggest unfamiliarity or surprise, rather like the adjective "newfangled" in English). A more emphatic form posed as a question is "ce drăcia dracului?" (lit. "what the devil's devilish [thing]?", similar to "what the hell").
- maglavais is used to designate any kind of (thick) paste or mix. It can indicate construction materials, creams, foods, ointments etc.
Other expressions used include
- cum-îi-zice / cum-se-cheamă ("what's-it-called"),
- nu-știu-cum/ce/care/cine/când ("I-don't-know-how/what/which/who/when"),
- cine știe ce/cum/care/cine/când ("who-knows-what/how/which/who/when"), and
- un din-ăla (masculine) or o-din-aia (feminine) ("one of those things").
Placeholders for numbers include zeci de mii ("tens of thousands"), often contracted to j'de mii (or even țâșpe mii; from -șpe, an informal numeral suffix equivalent to "-teen" in "sixteen", attached to ț, a Romanian letter sometimes seen as "extra", analogue to the English "a zillion") and also mii şi mii ("thousands and thousands"). Diverse colloquial formulas for "a lot" exist, including o căruță (lit. "a cart-full"), o grămadă (lit. "a pile"), "căcălău" (vulgar; it doesn't mean anything other than "(really) lots of (smth.)"; it sounds both scatological and augumentative in Romanian; comparable with "shit-load") or the poetic "câtă frunză, câtă iarbă" (lit. "as many leaves and blades of grass", referring to a large number of people).
Cucuieţii-din-Deal is a name for obscure and remote places. La mama dracului or la mama naibii ("where the devil's mother dwells", lit. "at the devil's mother"), Unde şi-a-nțărcat dracu' copiii (where the devil weaned his children) also mean a very remote place. For the same purpose, Romanians use also La Cuca Măcăii (an actual remote village in central Romania) and La dracu' in praznic (at the devil's celebration). Other place names may be used as generic placeholders, depending on the speaker's origins.
La paștele cailor (when horses will celebrate Easter—specifically when Orthodox Easter, Catholic Easter and Jewish Passover take place on the same day), Când o face plopu' pere (when pears will grow in a poplar), Când o zbura porcu' (when pigs will fly) and La Sfântul Așteaptă (on Saint Wait's day) both mean "some day in the indefinite future, or quite likely never".
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In Russian, among the common placeholder names are это самое (this particular [object]), штука (thing; diminutive forms also exist), ботва (leafy tops of root vegetables), фигня (crud), хреновина (same meaning as the previous one, but slightly less offensive, related to horseradish sauce).
A term for something awkward, bulky and useless is бандура (bandura, an old Ukrainian musical instrument, big and inconvenient to carry). A placeholder for a monetary unit is тугрик (Tögrög, the monetary unit of Mongolia).
A historical placeholder for a personal name used in legal documents and prayers is "имярек [ru]" ("imyarek"), derived from the archaic expression "imya rek" meaning "having said the name". The word entered into a common parlance as well.
To refer to an unknown person, the words "nekto", "kto-to", etc., equivalent to "someone", are used, as in "Someone stole my wallet".
Placeholders for personal names include variations on names Иван (Ivan), Пётр (Pyotr/Peter), and Сидор (Sidor), such as Иван Петрович Сидоров (Ivan Petrovich Sidorov) for a full name, or Иванов (Ivanov) for a last name; deliberately fake name-patronymic-surname combinations use one of them for all three, with the most widely used being Ivan Ivanovich Ivanov. Вася Пупкин (Vasya Pupkin) or Василий Пупкин (Vasiliy Pupkin) is also (jokingly, because the family name resembles the Russian word for navel, пупок (pupok)) used as a generic name.
Words like молодой человек (young man), девушка (young woman), гражданин (citizen), уважаемый (respected one) are common second-person placeholders. More informal second-person placeholders are парень (young man, dude), товарищ (comrade), бродяга (wanderer or rather bum), трудяга (working man), чувак (dude), друг/подруга (friend masc./fem.). All these terms have their own meaning as well. The term уважаемый, which is an equivalent of "dear" in formal letters, is most commonly used as a placeholder by migrant workers from southern FSU countries when they are speaking Russian.
Дорогой/дорогая (dear), милый/милая (cutie), любимый/любимая (beloved) are placeholder terms for someone's lover or spouse. Then may also be used as second-person placeholders, but this is considered very informal. Благоверный/благоверная (literally "keeping faith") are placeholder names for legal spouses.
Седьмая вода на киселе (sed'maya voda na kisele, seventh water on kissel) denotes very far relatives.
Тумба-юмба (tumba-yumba) and мамбу-нямбу (mambu-nyambu) are placeholder names for a tribal person, as well as for primitive tribes themselves. Чунга-чанга (chunga-changa) originally had the same meaning, but now it is mostly associated with a children's song of the same name.
Dzhamshut is a derogative placeholder for guest-workers from southern FSU countries.
Most common names of pets and farm animals can be used as placeholder names for those animals, such as Murzik for cats, Sharik for dogs and Buryonka for cows. In written texts, these names may be decapitalized when they are used as placeholder names.
- One of the most commonly used phrases is у чёрта на куличках (lit. "at the devil's allotment"), which is roughly equal to English "at the world's end" and "in the back of beyond". The vulgar equivalent of this phrase is в жопе мира (literally "in the ass of the world").
- Various city names are often employed as placeholders. For instance, to denote a remote, obscure place:
- The capital of the Russian backwoods is Урюпинск (Uryupinsk, a town in central Russia), although recently Бобруйск (Babruysk, a Belarusian city) has gained its popularity in the Russian Internet community.
- Куда Макар телят не гонял ("Where Makar didn't drive the calves"), a dated phrase that means "far-far away" or "somewhere you won't like".
- In some occasions in literature (a novel by famous Russian and Ukrainian writer Nikolai Gogol) unknown or deliberately unidentified places are referred to as ...ское место (featuring a widespread adjective ending ской).
- Latin N is sometimes used as a placeholder for the actual name of the site, e.g. город N [ru] ("city N").
- sokoćalo used for mechanical devices of unknown purpose.
- džidžabidže (pl.), used for small objects.
- Petar Petrović or the shorter version Pera Perić are used as a John Doe placeholder name
- Jugovići (pl.), addressing to Serbs or other "Yugoslav" (members of ex-Yugoslavian ethnic groups)
- askurđel used colloquially for an unknown very distant and obscure relative, i.e. a progenitor of a large family.
- During the 2010s, it became increasingly popular to use Srba or Srbenda as a typical nickname for a male member of the Serbian nation, especially in jokes and Internet memes.
- Tungusia is used to represent far and unknown country.
In Slovak, the most common placeholders are oné (originally an indefinite pronoun) with its variations like oný and onô or tento (originally a definite pronoun, lit. "this one") with variations like hento and tamto which can be used for both things and people.
There are numerous expressions meaning "bullshit", that can be interchangeably used as placeholder names for things – these can be either colloquial, derived from names of farm animals (konina, kravina, volovina, somarina – derived from horse, cow, ox, donkey respectively), or obscene, derived from obscene names for genitalia (kokotina, chujovina, pičovina – derived from cock, cock, cunt respectively). Dzindzík and čudlík are used as a placeholder for (control) elements of various devices. It is often used interchangeably with bazmek (derived from Hungarian "baszd meg" meaning 'fuck it') which can also be used to refer to entire devices or machines.
The most common placeholder for a full personal name is Jožko Mrkvička (lit. "Joe Little Carrot"). The most common placeholder name for an unknown man is týpek (borrowed from Czech), meaning "dude". This term is used mostly by young people. Ujo (uncle) and teta (aunt) are also commonly used to address unknown adults, mainly by children.
The standard placeholder for a place name is Horná Dolná (lit. "Upper Lower", a reference to common village names of form "Upper Something" / "Lower Something". It is often used in derogatory fashion to indicate a tiny and remote village (compare US English Hicksville). Remote places can be denoted as Tramtária, or v riti (in an asshole). For remote and rural places there are also the terms kde líšky dávajú dobrú noc ("where foxes say good night"), na konci sveta ("at the end of the world") or zapadákov or Vyšná Diera pod Sráčom (Upper Hole under the Shitter).
In fairy tales, za siedmimi horami ("over the seven mountains") is commonly used for an unfamiliar faraway place.
In Slovenia the name Janez Novak is used in place of John Doe, for legal matters. Janez Kranjski is also commonly used.
For a remote place, Spodnji Duplek is often used.
- Indefinite time in the past:
- tiempos de Maricastaña, "times of Maricastaña", probably in reference to María Castaña, a little known 14th century woman.
- cuando reinó Carolo, "when Charles reigned". The origin is unclear, the most viable hypothesis is that it refers to Charles III of Spain: on a frontispiece of a gate in Alcalá de Henares in the Community of Madrid there used to be an inscription "REGE CAROLO III ANNO MDCCLXXVIII". While the king ruled in 18th century, the romanization of the text gave an impression of antiquity.
Spanish (Europe) Edit
Cacharro is generally used for objects and/or devices around the kitchen. Chisme can be used for any object whose name is unknown or doesn't come to mind, much like English thingy.
Placeholder names in the Spanish language might have a pejorative or derogatory feeling to them, depending on the context.
- Perico (masculine) Perico de los palotes (a fool with (drum)sticks) or Juan de los palotes. The fool in question was a jester with a drum who accompanied a town crier, with the latter collecting salary and tips for both of them, and taking lion's share Hence the indignation implied in the phrases, such as "Who do you think I am, a fool with sticks?". "El Perico de los Palotes" was one of numerous pseudonyms of Manuel Gutiérrez Nájera.
- (feminine) Rita la Cantaora ("Rita the Singer") in reference to a woman who would do something one doesn't want to do oneself: "Let Rita la Cantaora". Rita de Cantaora was actually Rita Giménez García, see her article about the origin of the expression.
- Fulano/a (from Arabic fulán) is the default placeholder name for a human (the female version Fulana should be used carefully as it is also slang for "prostitute", but the diminutive form Fulanita is safe). Fulano de Tal is the equivalent of John Doe. Fulano is cognate with the Biblical Hebrew term ploni (see above).
- Mengano (from the Arabic man kán).
- Zutano (from the Castilian word citano from the Latin scitanus "known").
- Perengano (from the combination of the very common last name of Perez and Mengano).
When several placeholders are needed together, they are used in the above order, e.g. "Fulano, Mengano y Zutano". All placeholder words are also used frequently in diminutive form, Fulanito/a, Menganito/a, Perenganito/a or Zutanito/a.
The words "tío" and "tía" (uncle and aunt respectively) can be used to refer to any unspecified male or female. It is also used between friends to call each other (equivalent to "dude").
- El quinto pino (lit. "the fifth pine"), el quinto carajo, la quinta porra, la quinta puñeta or el quinto infierno are colloquially used to refer to an unspecified remote place. E.g.: Nos perdimos y acabamos en el quinto pino ("We got lost and ended up in the fifth pine")
- Donde Cristo perdió el gorro/las sandalias ("where Christ lost his cap/his sandals") and donde San Pedro perdió el mechero ("where Saint Peter lost his lighter") E.g.: Trotski fue exiliado a Alma Ata, que está, más o menos, donde Cristo perdió el gorro ("Trotski was exiled to Alma Ata, which is, more or less, where Christ lost his cap").
- En las Chimbambas (or Quimbambas) is, according to the Real Academia, a colloquial "distant or imprecise place". Also used with the intensifier lejanas ("faraway"), thus En las lejanas Chimbambas ("in faraway Chimbamba-land" or "in faraway Chimbambistan").
- En el culo del mundo ("in the ass end of the world") doesn't have the same meaning as in English. It is only mildly derogatory, and its primary meaning is the same as "back of nowhere".
- A tomar por culo is a phrase that originally meant ("[go] take it up the ass"), but has been lexicalised into meaning "go to hell", "send something or someone to hell" or "forget about it", as documented in the dictionary of the Real Academia.
Tropecientos ("trope hundred"), veinticatorce ("twenty-fourteen"), chorrocientos, chorromil or zepetecientos, are colloquially used for big numbers. "Pico" or "algo" can be added with the meaning of "a little more", e.g. for time ("las cuatro y pico" or "las cuatro y algo" for an undefined time between 4:00 and 5:00) or "las cuatro pasadas" (lit. Past 4 pm/am) which means that its later than 4, but not 4:05,or added fractions ("quince euros y pico" or "quince euros y algo" for "fifteen euros and a little more"). For approximation "tantos/tantas" can be used as in "treinta y tantos" for thirtysomething (age) or "thirty and a few more".
Spanish (Latin America) Edit
Feria, thus turning "thirty and change" into "treinta y feria" is used in Mexican Spanish.
Carajo is commonly used only among Central and South American Spanish speakers when referring to an unknown and/or unpleasant place, hence vete pa'l carajo (go to el carajo) may translate as "go to hell" or "get lost".
Mexican Spanish speakers use the words chingadera ("fuckery") or madre (lit. mother), not to be used in polite circumstances, also mierda which in most contexts has the same function as the word 'shit' in English, as does güey (from buey) used between young people to refer each other. Cabrón is used to name someone you don't know or remember, but is mildly offensive, depending on the context, because it means cuckold. It is considered an insult in Spain. Cabrón means "male goat",(from cabra with an augmentative suffix -on) but it's usually used as an insult.
In Chilean and Peruvian Spanish the word hue'ón(a) (from huevón, from huevo ("egg"), a euphemism for testicle) is often used when referring to unspecified individuals or friends in a casual context. Also, huevón is considered an insult when used unproperly. The word hue'á (from huevada) is used to refer to unspecified actions or objects.
Vaina is word commonly used by Dominicans and Venezuelans to refer to any object; its usage is similar to "thingy" or "stuff". It can be a very crude word elsewhere in the Caribbean.
Juan Pérez (or its diminutive, Juanito Pérez) is common in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Ecuador.
In Uruguay, Argentina, Ecuador and Venezuela, a generic person is Fulano; a second generic person is Mengano; and a third generic person is Zutano.
In Cuban Spanish, Fulano and Mengano are followed by Ciclano, then Esperancejo, when more than two placeholder names are needed. The corresponding surname is de Tal ("of such"). Pepito Pérez is sometimes used as a generic name but carries a more dismissive connotation, akin to "Joe Blow", and is never used as a placeholder for a real person.
In Uruguay, Argentina, Ecuador and Colombia, Cochinchina (an old name for southern Vietnam; see Cochinchina campaign) means a remote and perhaps nonexistent place. Combined with China it means 'everywhere' in the phrase aquí, en la China, y en la Cochinchina.
In Chile, Chuchunco is used for a remote place.
Central America Edit
In parts of Central America (e.g. El Salvador and Costa Rica) the word chunche is used for any object. El Salvador also uses the word volado (from volar, to fly) to refer to objects.
Argentinian Spanish Edit
Coso or its diminutive cosito (thing) is used for a generic physical object, usually replacing a noun when the speaker does not remember its name (i.e. Pasame el coso ese que está en la mesa, Hand me that thingie on the table). Also chirimbolo (trinket, tchotchke), pendorcho (small object). Comosellame (what's-it-called) is also used.
Chucherías: cheap bric-a-brac or jewellery.
Bicho: any animal colloquially.
A las mil quinientas ('at 1500'): very late.
Cuarenta y quince ('forty-fifteen'): jocularly, an indeterminate number.
Quichicientos: a lot, a zillion.
- Tal por cual: So-and-so.
- Un Juan de los Palotes: just some guy, nobody important.
- NN, No nominado (Not Named), used in police reports, famously used for unidentified bodies found during the Dirty War. Natalia natalia is a more recent application of the acronym.
- Magoya (also, but not as commonly, Montoto): Non-existent person used sarcastically; Que te ayude magoya, 'may magoya help you', means "you are on your own".
- Mandrake: magician with supernatural powers. No lo arregla ni mandrake: Not even Mandrake can fix it, usu. applied to an economic conundrum. No soy Mandrake, I'm not Mandrake, meaning: Explain yourself, I can't read your mind.
- Pendejo (pubic hair) means a small child or somebody very young; note that this word has a completely different meaning in Mexico.
- María or Ramona are the stereotypical names of maids.
- Jaimito (Jimmy) is often the smart-mouthed kid who is the main character in Little Johnny jokes.
- For respected elders, Don or Doña can be used without a name to refer to someone treated as important.
- A stranger may be colloquially addressed as jefe, maestro, amigo, chabón, viejo/a or nene (used in protests), chango.
- Sol, cielo, tesoro, dulce, vida, corazón, bebé, nene/a may be used more or less interchangeably as terms of endearment.
La loma de los tomates/del orto/ de la mierda/del carajo ('tomato/ass/shit/fuck hill') is a vulgar phrase for a very remote place.
La concha de la lora ("the parrot's cunt"): an unspecified, possibly remote place, usually used in the insult "Go to ...". A euphemism is Plumas verdes (green feathers).
Donde el diablo perdió el poncho ('where the devil lost his poncho'): in a remote place, at the back of beyond.
Cuando los chanchos vuelen: literally, when pigs fly.
Añares: donkey's years.
El día del arquero: goalkeeper's day (never).
Ecuadorian Spanish Edit
A generic or poorly identified thing can be cosa, nota, movida or vulgarly huevada.
Juan Pérez or Juan Piguave (Pérez and Piguave being common surnames, like Smith). N.N. is used when trying to convey the same notion of forensic non-identification that John Doe conveys in the U.S.
For small children or young people, Ecuadorians normally use to call children pelao/á (a more vague form of the also used pelado).
Maricón (faggot) is used to call the attention of someone you know, but it can also be used in a derogatory tone. Compare broder (from English brother), ñaño (also meaning 'brother'), pana (pal), yunta (good friend), and projeshor (a corruption of the word profesor, meaning teacher, used exclusively in the coastal provinces of Ecuador). They all are variations on the dude theme.
Jefe ('boss') is also popular when addressing an unknown middle-aged man.
For respected elders, caballero, señora or señorita can be used without a name.
La casa de la verga: (Lit. The house of the cock), sometimes used like Cochinchina, ándate a la casa de la verga is an insult, while me fui a la casa de la verga colloquially means I was wasted or otherwise ruined.
Colombian Spanish Edit
For a generic thing vaina is used for things not well known, but it indicates anger or loss of temper. Comosellame ('what's it called') is also used.
Juan Pérez is the generic man, Pérez being a common surname.
Colombians call small children chino/a ("Chinese"), pelao/á (a more vague form of the also used pelado), sardino/a (sardine, i.e. little fish).
Juanito (Johnny) is a small boy of school age; in jokes, Juanito is often the smart-mouth kid who is the center of the joke. Pepito/a (Joey/Josie) is also often used in the context of jokes.
Marica (faggot) is a placeholder name popular in the Caribbean Region, although it is derogatory. Marica is often used in the north and not as an insult, but more in the context 'dude' would be used, and people do not respond angrily at this, as it is believed that if you do get mad, it is because you are in fact gay.
La loma de la mierda ("shit hill") is a vulgar name in Argentina for a very remote place; similarly La loma del orto ("anus hill").
Swedish has a large vocabulary of placeholders: Sak, grej, pryl, mojäng/moj (from French moyen) and grunka are neutral words for thing. Some plural nouns are grejsimojs, grunkimojs, grejs and tjofräs, which correspond to thingamabob, and the youth loan word stuff, which is pronounced with the Swedish u. Apparat (or, more slangy, mackapär) more specifically refers to a complex appliance of some kind, much like the German Gerät. More familiarly or when openly expressing low interest, people use tjafs or trams (drivel) and skräp or krams (rubbish). Like in English, various words for feces can be used: skit (crap) and bajs (poop) are standard, well known local variations are mög, bös and dret. Vadhannuhette and vaddetnuhette correspond to whatshisname and whatchamacallit respectively, except that Swedes use the past tense. Det där du vet means "that thing you know". Den och den (that and that) corresponds to so and so. Gunk may refer to any fairly large quantity of unwanted substance or objects of varied or indeterminate identity, much like the English "junk".
Common first names infrequently used as placeholders are "Kalle" for boys and "Lisa" for girls.
More in use is the equivalent of the collective term Average Joe: Medelsvensson. Medel is Swedish for 'medium' or 'average', and Svensson is a common Swedish surname.
"Tolvan Tolvansson" is a fictitious person who is used in Swedish health care for educational purpose with personal identity number 121212+1212.
In more formal text the abbreviation N.N. (for Latin nomen nescio, "name unknown") is sometimes used.
Placeholder names in Swedish are colorful: Someplace far away can be called Tjotaheiti (which is derived from Otaheiti, an older, alternate nameform of Tahiti) or Långtbortistan (Farawaystan) a play on -stan created in the Swedish edition of Donald Duck.
A common term for any large or unknown number is femtioelva (fifty-eleven).
Turkish has many colorful placeholders. Falan seems to be borrowed from Arabic, and comes in variations like filanca (what's his name) and falan filan (stuff, etc.). Ivır zıvır is a common placeholder for "various stuff". Placeholders for persons exist in abundance, one example being Sarı Çizmeli Mehmet Ağa ("Mehmet Ağa with yellow boots") which generally is used to mean pejoratively "unknown person". In addition, otherwise meaningless words such as zımbırtı and zamazingo are used similarly to the English words gadget and gizmo, but not necessarily related to technology.
Şey meaning "thing" is used colloquially for an object or an action the person has that second forgotten. O şey dedi,... (literally "He said 'thing',...") can be used instead of "He said that...". It can also be used as a euphemism in place of a verb; Şey yapmak istemedim ("I didn't want to 'thing'") can mean "I didn't want to make an issue out of it."
Ukrainian has its own placeholders.
Alternatively, the Latin letter N is for something or someone that is anonymous.
For people, commonly-used names and surnames are used to represent generic people, such as Mykola, Volodymyr, Oleksandr, and Ivan for given names, and Melnyk, Shevchenko, Kovalenko, and Tkachenko. The given and family names are often mixed up to make the subject more random.
"постражда́лий" ("victim") and "невідомий" ("unknown") are also commonly used for generic people.
In Ukrainian, random places within Ukraine are used to represent a generic location.
The words звідкілясь ("somewhere"), хтозна-звідки ("who knows where"), чортзна-де ("wherever the hell is that") are specifically used for places the speaker doesn't know.
я́к його́ (там) refers to something the speaker doesn't know.
Nguyễn Văn A (male) or Nguyễn Thị A (female) can be used similar to John and Jane Doe. For more placeholder names, subsequent letters in the alphabet (Nguyễn Văn B/Nguyễn Thị B, Nguyễn Văn C/Nguyễn Thị C, etc.) or different family names can be used (Lê Văn A/Lê Thị A, Trần Văn A/Trần Thị A, etc.)
In Yiddish, der zach is often used, similar to the German die Sache above. Comic David Steinberg did a routine about his attempt to identify an object, based only on his father's description of it as "In Yiddish, we used to call it der zach."
The Talmudic placeholder names Ploni and Almoni (see under Hebrew) are also used; more specifically Yiddish placeholder names are Chaim Yankel (Yankel is the Yiddish diminutive of Jacob/Yaaqov) and Moishe Zugmir (literally: Moses Tell-Me).
A Yiddish term for a backwater location is Yechupitz. Hotzeplotz is used for a location very far away.
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