List of placeholder names by language
- 1 Afrikaans
- 2 Arabic
- 3 Bengali
- 4 Bosnian
- 5 Bulgarian
- 6 Catalan
- 7 Cebuano
- 8 Chinese
- 9 Czech
- 10 Danish
- 11 Dutch
- 12 Esperanto
- 13 Finnish
- 14 French
- 15 Georgian
- 16 German
- 17 Greek
- 18 Hawaiian Pidgin (English)
- 19 Hebrew
- 20 Hindi
- 21 Hungarian
- 22 Indonesian
- 23 Interlingua
- 24 Irish
- 25 Italian
- 26 Japanese
- 27 Kannada
- 28 Korean
- 29 Kurdish
- 30 Latin
- 31 Lithuanian
- 32 Macedonian
- 33 Malay
- 34 Maori
- 35 Marathi
- 36 Moore (Burkina Faso)
- 37 Norwegian
- 38 Persian
- 39 Polish
- 40 Portuguese
- 41 Quechua
- 42 Romanian
- 43 Russian
- 44 Serbian
- 45 Slovak
- 46 Slovene
- 47 Spanish (Europe)
- 48 Spanish (Latin America)
- 49 Sri Lanka
- 50 Swedish
- 51 Tagalog
- 52 Thai
- 53 Turkish
- 54 Vietnamese
- 55 Welsh
- 56 Ubykh
- 57 Uzbek
- 58 Yiddish
- 59 Yoruba
- 60 References
In Afrikaans, dinges ('thing'), goeters ('things'), watsenaam ('what's its name') are common placeholders.
- Elke Jan Rap en sy maat ('every Jan Rap and his companion').
- Die man in die maan ('the man on the moon').
- Piet Pompies ("John Doe")
A common placeholder name for a semi-mythological place - much the same as Timbuktu - is Pofadder (a real town). A general term for a far away, remote/rural environment is "Boendoe".
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.
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.
The word limburg is used as a non-existent month, so if something will happen in the month of Limburg, it will never happen.
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. The latter often can have obscene connotations, but it's generally not considered profane.
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".
Distant places can be referred to as на майната си (майна is archaic dialectal for 'mother', now an obscenity), на гъза на географията (at geography's ass). Short distance may be referred to as на една плюнка разстояние (at a spit's distance), на един хуй място (at a dick's length).
Time that is never to come is expressed as на Куково лято (in Cuco's summer), на Куков ден (at Cuco's day) (Cuco is not a human name and therefore there is no such name-day, so the two expressions are quite close in meaning to 'on the Greek calends' or 'when pigs fly'), на Върба в сряда (on Palm Sunday in Wednesday).
Catalan uses the names daixonses / daixonsis and dallonses / dallonsis to refer to any object or person; d'aixo ("of this") and d'allo ("of that") are also used with the same purpose. The verb fotre or less commonly fúmer or cardar (all literally meaning "to fuck") can be used to replace any other verb, though they are most commonly used instead of fer ("to do"), menjar ("to eat") and posar ("to put"). E.g. què fots?, m'he fotut una paella per sopar or l'he fotut al costat de la porta mean respectively "what are you doing?", "I had a paella for supper" and "I put it beside the door".
Cebuano uses kuan (also spelled kuwan, kwan, or ku-an) for an object, person, place, time, action, or modifier. It can be a noun, pronoun, verb, adjective, or adverb. In context, the specific article or preposition used can be useful in determining what the speaker might be referring to (e.g. si kuan will always refer to a person). It is also used in hesitant or uncertain speech as an interjection (equivalent to English um, erm, uh). The word is also used in other languages like Maguindanao, Maranao, Pangasinense, etc., but is absent in Tagalog where it is a loanword used with the more local ano ("what", "the what").
In some Cebuano areas, for a known person with a name withheld, it uses a Spanish practice of using Fulano (Fulana when the person is a female).
In Chinese, 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; literally: "what what") and an unspecified location is nǎlǐ (simplified Chinese: 哪里; traditional Chinese: 哪裡; literally: "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; literally: "Zhang Three")
- Li Si (Chinese: 李四; literally: "Li Four")
- Wang Wu (Chinese: 王五; literally: "Wang Five")
When more than three placeholders are needed, these are also occasionally used:
- Lu Er (simplified Chinese: 陆二; traditional Chinese: 陸二; literally: "Lu Two")
- Zhao Liu (simplified Chinese: 赵六; traditional Chinese: 趙六; literally: "Zhao Six")
- Sun Qi (simplified Chinese: 孙七; traditional Chinese: 孫七; literally: "Sun Seven")
- Wang Ermazi (Chinese: 王二麻子; literally: "Wang the Second Pockmark")
Zhang, Li, Wang, Zhao and Sun are among the most common Chinese surnames.
In all kinds of English exams in high school, Li Hua (Chinese: 李华) is often used as the character in writing test.
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 Czech, there are several placeholder words for things such as toto, tentononc, udělátko (gadget), bazmek, hejble, etc.
For persons, placeholder word týpek is becoming increasingly popular (in slang, among young people, etc.). Where a name is expected, Jan Novák is often used.
The most common placeholder name for a distant place is Tramtárie.
Czechs and Slovaks would also usually understand each other's placeholder words.
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".
Anders Andersen is the Danish version of John Doe
In Danish a common placeholder word is dims (derived from German Dings), used for small unspecified objects (gadgets). Other placeholders for objects are dingenot, dimsedut, dibbedut, huddelifut, himstregims, himstregimst and tingest; sager (lit. 'stuff') and grej (lit. 'gear').
Faraway countries are often called Langtbortistan, lit. Farawayistan.
Backwards places in the countryside are called Lars Tyndskids marker, lit. The fields of Lars Diarrhea which is similarly pronounced word play on an earlier form: Lars tøndeskiders marker, lit. The fields of Lars the barrel shitter – a reference to areas in the countryside where Lars the farmer has to relieve himself on a barrel, because there is no sewer system.
The word langtpokkerivold is a placeholder for a place far far away e.g. he kicked the ball langtpokkerivold.
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').
In Flanders, an obsolete object (or an old fashioned person) is said to date van de jaren Stillekes (from the Gently years) or in Dutch zo oud als Methusalem (as old as the biblical Methuselah); van het jaar kruik (from the year of the crock), referring to Roman times, is less used.
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, while 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. The latter is used in the Netherlands as well. (Jef is a common pet form of Jozef. Another pet form is Jos.) The average couple may be Mieke en Janneke (Molly and Jenny). 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.
Sint-Juttemis is used as a nonsensical date, meaning "never", even though it may be derived from a real saint's day. Als pasen en pinksteren op één dag vallen (When Easter and Pentecost fall on the same day) is also used for "never". Another version is Als de kalveren op het ijs dansen (When the calves dance on the ice). This is sometimes combined with Sint Juttemis (Met Sint-Juttemis, als de kalveren op het ijs dansen).
In Brussels Dutch dialect, an unspecified far-ago time is den taaid van de blieke pataten (the time when potatoes were pale blue).
Esperanto has an all-purpose placeholder suffix um, which has no fixed meaning and simply tells that an object or action has something to do with some purpose or object, for instance butonumi ("to button up" or "to press a button"). It has acquired a specific meaning in some compounds, like brakumi, "to embrace", from brako, "arm".
The placeholder suffix was originally devised as a catch-all derivation affix. Once affixes became routinely used as roots and inflected, um became a placeholder lexeme, which would take affixes of its own: umi "to thingummy", umilo "a thingummy tool", umado "thingummying" etc. A common popular derivative is umaĉi (with pejorative suffix –aĉ–), "to do something fishy". The affix-turned-lexeme aĵo "thing" is also arguably a place holder, since it is less specific than the older lexeme objekto. Afero "business" is a lexeme used as an abstract placeholder.
The particle ajn ('any') can also be used as a placeholder. A generic object may be called io ajn ('anything', 'some thing'), or ajno (informal); the forms ajna ('any kind of') and ajne ('in any way') are acceptable colloquial synthetic variants of the longer and more formal ia ajn and iel ajn. In combination with the person suffix -ul- and the word sinjoro ('Mr.'), this particle is also used to form the expression sinjoro Ajnulo, which is sometimes used in a similar way as John Doe in English.
Additionally there is a proposed placeholder word root, zoz-, found mainly in the noun zozo, but it is not widely used.
Hilavitkutin is one of the most common Finnish placeholder words for technical objects and machinery. It refers to "a device for vitkuttaa-ing a lattice". The ordinary meaning of the verb vitkuttaa is nonsensical in this context, as it means "to do something slowly in order to delay it". Arguably, vitkuttaa can also evoke associations of oscillation, "shaking back and forth", in native speakers of Finnish. The suffix -tin denotes a tool or device. The usage is same as that of English "whatsit".
An idiosyncratically Finnish placeholder word is mikälie or mikä lie, literally "whatever (it) may be". It utilizes 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. Other generic placeholder words in colloquial use include systeemi or sydeemi ("system"), and juttu (also jutska or judanssi), homma and hommeli ("thing", "thingy"). Tilpehööri derives phonetically from the Swedish language "tillbehör" (that which is included), and can refer especially to very small items, often found in small plastic bags, needed to put together furniture (say from IKEA) or other kits (model planes for example). Tilpehööri is always clearly useful and needed to something; unnecessary, unneeded or obscure small items are called höhä or sälä.
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 names Matti Virtanen and Ville Virtanen is sometimes also used, because they are said to combine the most common first names and surnames; however, they are also real names for this reason.
The common nouns tyyppi "type", kaveri "friend" and joku "someone" may be used as placeholders for persons. Kaveri is used especially in contact sports and somewhat ironically of troublemakers in security slang or in other contexts where the "friend" is a complete stranger and is not acting very friendly.
Pihtiputaan mummo ("the grandmother from Pihtipudas") is the proverbial the least knowledgeable and therefore the least capable person to adapt to a new technology, such as the euro or digital TV.
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.
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. A faraway place can be found in Pippurlandia, which translates as "pepper-land"; "as far as the pepper grows". Other places, whose actual coordinates are unknown and obscure, but which clearly are far away, are Hornantuutti (chute of Hell), Huitsin-Nevada, Vinku-Intia (Whine-India) and Hevonkuusi ("Horse's Spruce" cf. in the sticks).
Dates and times
Obscurity in time can be expressed as viidestoista päivä (fifteenth day). Tuohikuussa pukinpäivän aikaan refers to an obscure future date (literally at Buck's day on Barkember). Nappisodan aikaan "at the time of the button wars" refers to something that happened a long time ago. Another common term is Vuonna keppi ja kivi, which literally means "at the year stick-and-stone", but the word keppi "stick" and kivi "stone" may be replaced with other word like nakki "frankfurter", miekka "sword", kilpi "shield" or other word that relates to old times.
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.
In information technology, a small program which is supposed to do one thing well, is called kilke. This word has a connotation of "makeshift". Software consisting of several kilke may be called tsydeemi (system). Another word for systems like this is judanssi.
A program that takes something as input and turns it into something other useful, but always human-readable information, is called pulautin. This is perhaps most often applied to web services that do this.
A term sometimes used for a black-box component, i.e. one that has a well-defined interface, but whose internal workings are not known and/or of no interest, is palikka ("block").
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.
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.
- 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.
Common placeholder names for people are
- In slang: Tartampion, 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). The main schools for this science were the French one and the Russian one; Piotr and Pavel are very common first names in Russian too.
- 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)
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)
Dates and times
To refer to an event that will never occur, it can be set "à la Saint-Glinglin", "aux Calendes grecques" or "La semaine des quatre jeudis" (the week with four Thursdays, because in the past children didn't have school on Thursday). One can also refer to an event which will never occur saying "tous les trente-six du mois", meaning "Every thirty-sixth of the month" There is a well-known judgment about a debtor who committed himself to pay on the day of Saint-Glinglin, his creditor apparently not knowing it doesn't exist. The judge decided the discharge would take place on All Saint's day, since that's the proper moment for honouring Saints who don't have their dedicated day, including fake ones.
Chichiko Bendeliani (ჭიჭიკო ბენდელიანი) may be used for the indefinite person, e.g. when one is telling a story about someone which identification is not necessary or does not affect the sense. It is important to use the full name of Chichiko Bendeliani when used singly, as anything else would make the name too specific and lose the placeholder sense. The second metasyntactic variable would be Bichiko (ბიჭიკო). When used together with Chichiko, last names are not necessary. For example:
"Chichiko Bendeliani was crossing the road", or "Chichiko and Bichiko walk into a bar" to begin a joke.
Jandaba is an indefinite placename for an unspecified (and assumed to be remote) location in Georgia. For 50 years Georgian Mameluks governed Afghanistan and had established a few kingdoms in India, which was the most eastern point of Mameluk settlement. Here (in India) there was a great town known as Jeihan Abad ("Town of Shah Jeihan"), which Georgian Mameluks, because of its remoteness and hazardous place had renamed to "Jandaba" which in Arabic means "Hell". This has been incorporated in Georgian language and the phrase in Georgian – "Go to Jandaba", which means godforsaken travelling.Mameluks, the Great Warriors of the Past
German also sports a variety of placeholders; some, as in English, contain the element Dings, Dingens (also Dingenskirchen), Dingsda, Dingsbums, cognate with English thing. Also, Kram, Krimskrams, Krempel suggests a random heap of small items, e.g. an unsorted drawful 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 obtained 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).
The German equivalent to the English John Doe for males and Jane Doe for females would be Max Mustermann (Max Paragon) 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 small shop as in Fahrradfritze (lit. Fred's bicycle repair shop). In 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 genderwise. 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 / Haumichblau (lit. "Infantryman Tin-Can-Cabbage / Beat-Me-Up") as a derogatory placeholder 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/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), Dort, wo der Pfeffer wächst (Where the pepper grows), as is also known in the English language. 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 that some small, rural and old-fashioned village is meant) 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 on the 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 an island, 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': Ich habe 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'). Exponents of 10 are also used as in English.
Dates and time
Unlikely days are Sankt-Nimmerleins-Tag ('Saint Never-let Day').
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" serves as a placeholder for a distant place.
Hawaiian Pidgin (English)
In Hebrew, the word זה (zeh, meaning 'this') is a placeholder for any noun. The most popular personal name placeholders are מה-שמו (mah-shmo, 'whatsisname'), מֹשֶׁה (Moshe = Moses) and יוֹסִי (Yossi, diminutive form of Joseph) for first name, and כֹהֵן (Cohen, the most popular last name in Israel) for last name. However, in ID and credit card samples, the usual name is Israel Israeli for a man and Israela Israeli for a woman (these are actual first and last names) – similar to John and Jane Doe. It's also common in Hebrew slang to refer to a person's family members, mostly female ones, for example in sexual connotation (אמא שלך ima shelcha 'your mother'; אחותך achotcha 'your sister').
The traditional terms are Ploni פלוני and his party Almoni אלמוני (originally mentioned in Ruth 4:1). Ploni Almoni also is in modern official usage; for example, addressing guidelines by Israel postal authorities utilize Ploni Almoni as the addressee.
In the Talmud and in Jewish religious reasoning personal placeholder names are often Reuven (ראובן) and Shimon (שמעון).
A vulgar term for an unspecified place, mostly popular in the Israeli army, is פִיזְדֶלוֹך (pizdelokh, formed from Russian pizda 'pussy' and German/Yiddish Loch 'hole'). Also quite common is תיז (א)נביא (Tiz (e) Nabi “the prophet’s ass”, from Arabic), עזאזל (Azazel, originally the name of a demon), and again Timbuktu.
A placeholder for a time in the far past is תרפפ"ו (pronounced Tarapapu, which somewhat resembles a year in the Hebrew calendar but is not quite one). A snappish remark when someone is asked for the time would be רבע לתיק תק (Reva letik tak, 'a quarter to tick-tack', tick-tack being a synecdoche for a clock).
Especially older Ashkenazi often employ the Yiddish placeholders Chaim Yankel and Moishe Zugmir ("zugmir" meaning "tell me" in Yiddish). Buzaglo (a typical Moroccan-Jewish last name) is a placeholder for a simple lower-class citizen. The term Buzaglo test was coined by then-Attorney General Aharon Barak in the 1970s for the proposition that the law should apply with equal leniency (or severity) to a senior public official and to the simplest ordinary citizen.
The suffix –shehu is analogous to the English prefix some–, in forming an unknown from any question word: ma ('what') → mashehu ('something'); mi ('who') → mishehu ('someone'); eyfo ('where') → eyfoshehu ('somewhere').
In Hindi, Amuk (as a universal placeholder for place, name or thing, agla (placeholder for a third person), Janu, Jaan for beloved are common placeholders.
- Jhumri Telaiya (झूमरी-तलैया), a mining town situated in Jharkhand, was famous for its connection with Vividh Bharati, a national radio broadcast. A large number of song requests on the Vividh Bharati programmes would come from Jhumri Telaiya, however many used to doubt its existence, believing it to be an imaginary place.
- Timbuktu is also used in Hindi though not frequently.
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 the same in Hungarian; Kovács János or Gipsz Jakab (John Smith or Jake Gypsum, or Jakob Gipsch, with given name last, the Hungarian standard). 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 (part of them being similar to the word röfög, to grunt, as in the pig sound), little villages or boonies far out in the countryside, and Kukutyin or Piripócs, νillages or small towns somewhere in the countryside. A general place reference is the phrase (az) Isten háta mögött, meaning "behind the back of (the) God", i.e. 'middle of nowhere'.
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).
Popular female placeholder names: Sinta, Sri, Dewi
Fulan (male) and Fulanah (female) are also often found, especially in religious articles (both are derived from Arabic).
Interlingua placeholders include cosa, meaning 'thing', and typo, meaning 'guy' or 'type'. Cosalia – a collection of things, especially useless things – is a less common placeholder. Like other Interlingua words, placeholders have been selected for internationality.
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".
The generic person can also be called Seán Ó Rudaí ("Sean O'Something", from rud "thing"). 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'), affare (literally 'an item of business'), and aggeggio ('device' or 'gadget').
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 coso, 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.
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. Another common placeholder name for people is Pinco Pallino, where neither word is a common Italian first or last name.
In information technology, especially in textbooks, a placeholder name for variables is pippo (Disney's Goofy); a second variable can be named pluto, and a third one topolino (Mickey Mouse). Oddly enough, names of characters from Duckburg are much less often used.
Alle calende greche ("on Greek kalends", which did not exist in the Greek calendar), un domani ("a tomorrow"), sine die (Latin for "without a day"), and other similar expressions mean "never". Ad ogni morte di papa ("at every death of a pope") means "very rarely". Il giorno di San Mai ("St. Never's Day"), or il 30 febbraio ("February 30") means that an event is never going to take place.
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).
A place far away and out of reach is a casa del diavolo ('at the devil's house') or, more vulgarly, 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').
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.
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 the placeholder name for common man could be 'Manku Thimma', also used by famous Kannada poet D.V. Gundappa in his work "Manku Thimmana Kagga"
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 and eodieodi (reduplication of who and where, respectively) can be heard as well.
Hong Gildong (홍길동), a male name, is commonly used as a placeholder name in instructions for filling out forms.
In Kurdish the placeholder name for people is Yaro, derived from the word Yar meaning companion, friend, lover or person.
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.
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 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, name "Vardenis Pavardenis" ("Name Lastname") is a common placeholder.
Probably the best 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 the actual origin of the name is Slavonic name of the nearby lake Бездонный (Bezdonniy), meaning "Bottomless". Another also well known derogatory placeholder name for a village or city is Kalabybiškis ("Chiseled Penis[dubious ] village").
In Macedonian џиџе džidže means one (usually small) object, and џиџи-миџи džidži-midži more than one.
Other words used are: ваквото vakvoto, таквото takvoto, онаквото onakvoto ("the like this", "the like that"), речи-го reči-go ("say-it"), ова-она ova-ona ("this and that"), and ваму-таму vamu-tamu ("here and there"). All above mentioned placeholders are used unofficially.
In Malay the word anu which may be prefixed with si can be used to refer to a person whose name has eluded the speaker. It can also be used for a generic person as in Mr/Ms So-and-so. Another not so commonly used term is polan, also coupled with si in front. The term is generally regarded as old use, and originated from the Arabic word fulan.
"Mat" or "Mamat" are also used frequently in daily slang but not in the official used.
In the Māori language, the word taru, literally meaning "long grass" or "weeds" is used.
Generic men collectively are सोम्या-गोम्या Somya-Gomya (compare English Tom, Dick and Harry).
Aatpat Nagar is 'Anytown'.
Moore (Burkina Faso)
Raogo (male) and Poko (female) are common place holder names used in proverbs as well as stories.
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 Storeby ("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 Places the word فلان جا (borrowed from the Arabic "Fulan" with the addition of "Ja"). For people the word فلانی or طرف (both from Arabic) and in slang يارو are used. A generic word that's used for calling anything, regardless of which type, is چيز "thing" (from the old Persian language).
The abundance of placeholder names appears generally in the spoken variety of the language.
In Polish, the most popular placeholders are to coś (literally meaning this something, a widget), cudo (miracle), dynks (from the German Ding – regional, specific for 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 contraption the Russian loan word ustrojstwo is often employed.
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 that US Dullsville but is actually a little town in central Poland. More picturesque description contains the common phrase gdzie psy ogonami (dupami) szczekają, literally meaning "Where dogs bark with their tails (arses)". The unspecified place situated far from the speaker's place is called Za górami, za lasami (over the hills and over the forests). Other terms include Pcim Dolny ("Lower Pcim", nonexistent quarter of a real town in Małopolska), Kozia Wólka (lit. "Goat's Will", Wola and Wólka being frequent names of Polish villages). The standard place of a Polish joke is Wąchock – a small town in Eastern Poland (voivodship of Kielce). 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, Od Bałtyku do Tatr (from Baltic Sea to Tatra Mountains), British equivalents being "Land's End to John o'Groats" or "from Orkney to Penzance", American – coast to coast.
A universal placeholder name for a man is Jan Kowalski; for a woman, Janina Kowalska is used less often, sometimes with a different first name. A second unspecified person would be called Nowak ("Newman"), choice of first name being left to the author’s imagination, often also Jan for a man; this surname is unisex. Jan is the most popular male first name 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 meet also a fictional name Pipsztycki (fem. Pipsztycka). In logical puzzles fictitious surnames frequently follow a uniform pattern: they start with consecutive letters of Latin alphabet and are followed by identical root: 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, 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 Chuj go wie (lit. A dick knows him). Other slang terms include koleś (lit. a mate, a pal), facet or demunitive facio (a guy, a bloke) with feminine forms facetka, facia and typ, typek (a type) with its feminine form typiara recently gaining wider usage. Widespread are also gostek, gość, gościu (lit. a guest) and a new fashionable word ziomal or ziom (which roughly equates to the American "homie").
Date and time
A rare placeholder name for a time and date (jutro) w grudniu po południu ((tomorrow), in December, in the afternoon) is also used. To avoid giving specific time details of a past event, the phrase pewnego razu (once upon a time) is quite often employed. When discussing an event which is not actually expected to occur, the phrase na świętego Nigdy (a play on the Polish for never, nigdy, in essence St. Never's day) is sometimes uttered. An event that may (or may not) occur in a very distant unspecified future is described as za ruski miesiąc (in a Russian month); also, irregularly (or rarely) recurring events can be said to happen raz na ruski rok (once a Russian year). Za króla Ćwieczka (under king Nail) refers to a very long, indefinite time ago.
Any number can be replaced with X. A rough number between 11 and 20 can be naście ("teen"); similarly dziesiąt ("-ty" as in "fifty") is popular for numbers between 20 and 100.
The general name for a big amount is masa. The popular and slang expressions od cholery i ciut ciut ("hell of a lot") or od groma (lit. "from a thunder") are used, let alone some vulgar terms like w kurwę or od chuja (lit. "from the cock"). For very big numbers one can meet the term pierdylion (lit. "fartillion"/"fucktillion") or pierdyliard.
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 ("with small coins"; compare English and change).
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 a slang into Brazilian Portuguese, mainly among the youth.
- Bicho, 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!").
The verb coisar (formed by a derivation of coisa, "thing", is often used to replace any verb that expresses actions.
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 hundreds),
Dates and times
Informal placeholder names for dates in Brazil are guaraná com rolha, meaning "guaraná soft drink bottle with a cork stopper" e.g. "Em mil novecentos e guaraná com rolha" is an indicative of something which take place many times ago, or also simply nos tempos do onça, "in the times of the pound-mass" (generally used to mean something even older than the usual for guaraná com rolha, which is usually placed in the 20th century). One can also use "Em mil novecentos e bolinha", roughly translating as "In nineteen-pellets". In Portugal, the expression troca o passo, meaning "exchange step" e.g. "Em mil novecentos e troca o passo" is used in a same way.
- No dia de São Nunca, à tarde (in the day of Saint Never, in the afternoon) or simply no dia de São Nunca (in the day of Saint Never) is referring to indefinite date of the year or time in future, or most often to something that will never happen. Quando porcos voarem ("when pigs fly"), quando galinha criar dentes (when chicken will start teething) or quando galinha criar dentes e pintinho falar mamãe (when chicken will start teething and little chicks will say "mommy") or nem que a vaca tussa três vezes e diga amém (not even if a cow coughs three times and say amen) is referring to something that definitely will never take place.
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 Cutarescu
- 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") also means 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), 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".
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), and бред (nonsense, lies). 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).
In Russian, there's a special placeholder personal name имярек (from Church Slavonic expression Imya Rek meaning having said a name) which is used (sometimes ironically) to a person whose real name is unknown.
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. Василий Пупкин (Vasiliy Pupkin) is also (jokingly) used as a generic name.
Words like парень (guy), товарищ (comrade), бродяга (wanderer), трудяга (working man), чувак (dude), друг/подруга (friend masc./fem.), молодой человек (young man), девушка (young woman), гражданин (citizen), уважаемый (respected one), дорогой (dear) all have their own meaning but may be and are used as second-person placeholders as well. Уважаемый is most commonly used by migrant workers from southern FSU countries addressing to Russians.
Sed'maya voda na kisele (seventh water on kissel) denotes very far relatives.
Dzhamshut is a derogative placeholder for a gastarbeiter from southern FSU countries.
- 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".
- Various city names are often employed as placeholders. For instance, to denote a remote, obscure place, Тьмутаракань (Tmutarakan, an ancient Crimean city which sounds in modern Russian something like "Dark Cockroach City") is used. Also, Zazhopinsk (City beyond the ass) or Mukhosransk (Flyshit city).
- 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"), meaning "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 places are referred to as ...ское место (featuring a widespread adjective ending ской).
- In music (Zoopark discography) and literature Latin N is sometimes used as a placeholder for the actual name of the site, e.g. город N ("city N").
Dates and times
- После дождичка в четверг ("right after rain on Thursday"), referring to indefinite time in future, or to something that will never happen.
- Когда рак на горе свистнет ("as soon as a crayfish on the next hill whistles" — equivalent of "when pigs fly"), meaning the same as после дождичка в четверг, and being sometimes combined with it. It has registered popularity in a song by the French-American singer of Ukrainian origin, Joe Dassin : Siffler sur la colline (whistling on the hill)
- Ни свет ни заря ("neither light, nor dawn"), засветло, спозаранку and so on, speaking of the very early time in the morning.
- Во времена царя Гороха ("when Gorokh was the tsar") — a very long, indefinite time ago; prehistorically.
- До второго пришествия (do vtorovo prishestviya) — "till the Second Advent".
- Pera Perić is 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.
- Tungusia is used to represent far and unknown country.
- sokoćalo used for mechanical devices of unknown purpose.
- džidžabidže (pl.), used for small objects.
- onomad used for an unspecified moment in time in the past.
- njeknja used in local dialect of Pirot, unspecified time in the past.
- tijadni used in local dialect of Pirot, unspecified time in the past.
In Slovak, the most common placeholders are oné (originally an indefinite pronoun) or tento (originally a definite pronoun, close deixis) which can be used for both things and people. The most common placeholder for a full personal name is Janko Mrkvička or Jožko Mrkvička (lit. "Johnny/Joe Little Carrot"). Placeholder name for an unknown man, is týpek (borrowed from Czech language), for an unknown woman it's "čajka" (seagull), both terms used mostly by young people.
There are numerous expressions meaning "bullshit", that can by interchangeably used as placeholder names for things – these can be either colloquial, derived from names of farm animals (konina, kravina, volovina, somarina etc.), or obscene, derived from obscene names for genitalia (kokotina, chujovina, pičovina). Dzindzík is 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. "Obzerance s makom" is a placeholder name for food, as is "hovno s makom" ("shit with poppy seeds"), both generally used after someone asks what food is going to be eaten.
The standard placeholder for a place name is Horná Dolná (lit. "Upper Lower", a reference to a common type of village name which takes the form of a feminine adjective ending in -á, e.g. Terchová). 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 the butthole). For remote and rural places there is also the term "kde líšky dávajú dobrú noc" ("where foxes tell good night").
Time that is never to come is expressed as na svätého Dindy ("at St. Dindy's day"), because there is no such saint as Dindy (in fact, Dindy isn't a name at all, it just rhymes with nikdy, "never"). An expression keď naprší a uschne ("after it rains and dries out") is used for the same purpose.
In Slovenia the name Janez Novak is used in place of John Doe, for legal matters. Janez Kranjski is also commonly used. American express advertisements use the name Rok Bergant.
For any remoted place, Spodnji Duplek is often used.
To say something will never happen, Ob svetem Nikoli ("on St Never's Day") is used.
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.
- 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.
- 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 "Tio" and "Tia" (Uncle and Aunt respectively) can be used to refer to any unespecified male or female. It is also used between friends to call each other (equivalent to "dude").
Tropecientos ("trope hundred"), veinticatorce ("twenty-fourteen"), chorrocientos or chorromil 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 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".
El quinto pino (lit. "the fifth pine"), el quinto carajo, la quinta porra or la quinta puñeta 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") Also, donde Cristo perdió el gorro ("where Christ lost his cap") 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")
Spanish (Latin America)
Ciclano and Esperancejo are used in Cuban Spanish.
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 of the context, because it means cuckold. It is considered an insult in Spain.
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 is common in Argentina, Colombia 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 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 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.
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 thing 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 y 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 Jaimito jokes.
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).
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 à la casa de la verga is an insult, while me fui à la casa de la verga colloquially means I was wasted or otherwise ruined.
For a generic thing vaina is used for things not well known, but it indicates anger or lost 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 (little dot) 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 is believed that if you do get mad, 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").
In Sinhala, a very common informal placeholder name for male is Siripala (සිරිපාල) and for female Champa (චම්පා).
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".
Placeholder names in Swedish are colorful: Someplace far away can be called Tjotaheiti (which is derived from "to Tahiti") or Långtbortistan (Farawaystan) a play on -stan created in the Swedish edition of Donald Duck. Häcklefjäll is a commonly used as a name for a generic remote village, which is actually a synonym for the Icelandic volcano Hekla.
The common Swede is referred to as Medel-Svensson. Medel is Swedish for 'medium' or 'average', and Svensson is a common Swedish surname. Svenne is a newer term with a similar meaning.
Common first names used as placeholders are Kalle for boys and Lisa for girls, Anna and Maria for women, Johan and Anders for men. In more formal text the abbreviatin N.N. (for Latin nomen nescio, "name unknown") is used.
A common term for any large or unknown number is femtioelva (fifty-eleven).
"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 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!").
A popular placeholder name in Thailand is Somchai (สมชาย) literally meaning "well-matched man".
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."
In Vietnamese, Nguyễn Văn A and Trần Thị B are usually used as placeholder names for a male and female, respectively, due to the ubiquity of the family names Nguyễn and Trần and middle names Văn and Thị in Vietnamese.
One of the placeholders in Ubykh, zamsjada, may be related to another word meaning useless.
In Uzbek language, among the common placeholders are anaqa ('that, those'), falon, piston ('stuff'). Placeholder personal names include falonchi, pistonchi ('person who makes stuff') and the Uzbek names Eshmat and Toshmat. Placeholders for places are tupkaning tagi (very far away), katta xolasining uyi ('elder aunt's house').
In Yiddish, der zach is often used, similar to the German die Sache above. Stand-up 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.
In Yoruba, Lagbaja and Temedu are the most common placeholder names.
- Where foxes say goodnight, Radio Prague
- "In 1987/88, Bundesdruckerei launched the central personalisation of identity cards and passports. This innovation gave us the first Ms Mustermann: Erika Mustermann, née Gabler, advertised the new ID and passport card from 1987 to 1997 and advertises the new credit card-sized ID cards today. The lady with the blonde fringe, photographed in plain black-and-white, was Germany's first fictitious model citizen. A large fan club grew during this Ms Mustermann's long term of office, and they still sing her praises today on a special homepage created in her honour." The changing ms Mustermann over the years
- Israeli postal documentation with the Universal Postal Union.
- "In Belfast, Joblessness And a Poisonous Mood" by Bernard Wienraub. New York Times, 2 June 1971
- "On Belfast’s Walls, Hatred Rules" by Paul Majendie. Sydney Morning Herald, 29 November 1986
- Justinian I, The Digest of Roman Law ISBN p.188
- "Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru: bechingalw". geiriadur.ac.uk. University of Wales. 2010. Retrieved 2015-02-27.