Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Contraption


The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is contraption. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

contraption is a usually mechanical or electronic device or gadget.

// The students worked as a team to create a Rube Goldberg contraption that can fill a pet food bowl at the press of a lever.


“In October of last year, an enormous new creature appeared on the seabed of the Pacific Ocean, about 1,400 miles southwest of San Diego. It was a remote-controlled, 90-ton machine the size of a small house, lowered from an industrial ship on a cable nearly 3 miles long. Once it was settled on the ocean floor, the black, white, and Tonka-truck-yellow contraption began grinding its way forward, its lights lancing through the darkness, steel treads biting into the silt.” — Vince Beister, WIRED, 28 Feb. 2023

Did You Know?

In the words of one Little Mermaid, “I’ve got gadgets and gizmos a-plenty.” It would have been on-theme (though perhaps a bit clunky) for the aquatic princess to include in her siren song the word contraption. Synonymous with both gadget and gizmo, and widget too, in referring to mechanical and electronic devices, contraption is also one of a raft of terms people reach for when talking about various human-made bits and bobs, whether mechanical or not. (It’s thought to have possibly been formed as a blend of contrivancetrap, and invention.) Want more thingamabob words? Try doohickeythingamajigdingus, or doodad.

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Leave a ReplyCancel reply