Word of the Week: gadget

I love dictionaries to begin with, but every now and then I come across a definition that is so simple, and yet so apt, that I am awestruck. That happened to me this week when I looked up gadget.

Before I tell you the dictionary definition of gadget, let me tell you about the conversation that caused me to look it up. A friend and I were at a café and someone jogged by. My friend noticed that the runner had something on her arm and I speculated that it might be a heart rate monitor. My friend hadn’t heard of such monitors (other than those used in hospitals) so I explained the little I know about them.

Despite my positive comments about them for training purposes, my friend dismissed it as a mere gadget. That launched us into a discussion of what constitutes a gadget. After some back and forth we pretty much agreed that a gadget might be handy, but it isn’t necessarily necessary.

When I got home, I was curious about the definition, so I looked it up. Well, here’s how Merriam-Webster.com defines gadget: “an often small mechanical or electronic device with a practical use but often thought of as a novelty”. BINGO! (Use of the phrase”thought of” strikes me as bang on because that makes the test subjective. In other words, with a gadget, the novelty aspect is in the eye of the user. Too true…)

Anyway, heart rate monitor aside, doesn’t the simplicity of that definition just take your breath away? Bravo Merriam-Webster.com!

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