fb-pixel Skip to main content

May I have a word: Talking about one’s own devices

In search of a single term for chats about bots and other high-tech gadgets.

Seeing AI-to-AI.Svitlana/Adobe

Last time, I asked you to come up with a term for “having social conversations about technological things.” Readers could relate.

Jean Whooley, of Dorchester, reported: “I have a flip phone, and my husband always has the latest version of any gizmo and gadget available. He looooooves to talk about them with anyone who will listen. Over the years, I have learned to tune out his techversations with friends, family, and any strangers he meets who may have the same phone, watch, tablet, etc., that he has.”

Many readers, in fact, suggested portmanteaus that open with tech: techversing (Ann Berman, of Brookline, and Cynthia Wardan, of Medford), technogabbing (Rob Kahn, of Danvers, and Judith Partelow, of Dennis), technoschmoozing (Frances Tucker, of Brookline, and Jane Ellis, of Worcester), technassessing (Patricia Robinson, of Portsmouth, N.H.), and techtifying (Rick Woods, of Yarmouth Port).


Margo Miller, a proud alumna of this newspaper, emailed Will Shields, a son of Hatsy Shields, who submitted this question, to suggest that techie-talking might suit his mother’s purposes. Will responded, and forwarded their exchange to me: “Given current events, perhaps it reduces to Tik-Talking?”

Paul Angiolillo, of Weston, wrote: “Could those having a serious discussion about technological matters be called jabberwonkies? Or if it’s a more intimate conversation, they might be having a tech-à-tête. And if they ended up agreeing about the latest technologies, they might be seeing AI-to-AI.” A three-fer! That just has to take bragging rights this time. Congrats, Paul!

Next up: Marc McGarry, of Newton Highlands, suggested I ask you to invent spoonerisms or share favorite ones you’ve heard or read. Named after the longtime Oxford don William Archibald Spooner, who was known for them­­ (though many more of these verbal slips of the tongue have been attributed to him than can be authenticated), these are transpositions of the beginnings, or occasionally other parts, of two words.


My late mother’s favorite, purportedly uttered by an usher, was “May I sew you to your sheets?” Other examples are “chewing the doors” for “doing the chores” and “The Lord is a shoving leopard” for “The Lord is a loving shepherd.”

Send your spoonerisms to me at Barbara.Wallraff@globe.com by Friday, April 14, and kindly tell me where you live. Also, please remember that meanings in search of words are always welcome.

Barbara Wallraff is an editor and writer in Cambridge.