by Mark Gwynn
We asked a question on social media last week about a commonly used kitchen utensil, and were overwhelmed by the response. The utensil in question (pictured) has a broad flat blade and is used for lifting and turning food. We asked ‘what do you call this implement’ and ‘which country do you come from’.
The following analysis of the feedback we received demonstrates a number of points:
- the word spatula is now the most common term for this utensil in Australia and North America
- there are regional differences in world English designations for this utensil
- hypernymic words such as lifter and turner are often applied to this utensil
- it frequently attracts a thingummy or whatsit type of response, implying its name is not known
- and it attracts names that suggest it has other uses, real or imaginary, such as bum warmer and fly swatter.