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Saturday, September 13, 2003

Word for the Day: Frammis

I was trying to help another librarian find out the origin/meaning of this word yesterday. It appears to be a nonsensical placeholder along the lines of 'whatchmacallit', 'so-and-so', and 'thingy'. It's usually used in examples such as engineering and computer science. There was a classic mystery story 'The Frightening Frammis' by Jim Thompson, author of The Grifters. (A television segment based on 'The Frightening Frammis' is also listed as Tom Cruise's directorial debut.) In each of these works, a frammis was an elusive thing that grifters and other con artists tried to reach. I don't know if that's the origin, if Thompson coined it, or if he based it on something older. If anyone knows the actual origin, I'd be interested; please let me know.


The Master said...

I realize this post is years old but I just came across it checking the meaning of the word FRAMMIS, which I've used in a story. I found FRAMMIS years ago and must have looked it up and was sure it meant something like 'fracas'. I've used it that way for years. Now I'm having doubts.

Diane Blackman said...

The term is at least as old as the Tv series "It Takes a Thief" Having been intercepted by an official Al advises Noah to explain that he "dropped his frammis." Episode Turnabout 1968

Anonymous said...

I love the word frammis! Even used it in a company name (but no shameless plug here). I suspect it might be an older word, because all three people that I've heard use it (and who I learned it from) were born c. 1930. One being my father (who used words like "crevulated" so he wasn't against making words
up and acting as if they were real, so I had to be careful growing up). Lloyd Bridges referred to a fighter jet as having a "radar jamming frammis" in one of the "Hot Shots!" spoof movies (not as old a reference as yours, but Mr. Bridges might have recommended the term). I've only heard it used as "whatchamacallit" also, with the exception of my dad who would also use it as a nonsense verb on occasion, but it came across as awkward.