In my parents’ house, the remote control for the TV is always referred to as the Button Box, so that’s what I’ve grown up saying.  To me it’s a name that makes perfect sense for it is, quite clearly, a sort of box with buttons on. However, if I now say to a housemate “can you pass the button box please?” I am generally met with a look of utter confusion. “Oh, you mean the remote” they say, after I gesture at the device on the arm of the sofa. Yes, wise friend, that is exactly what I mean, the box with buttons on that we use to change channel and turn up the volume. I’m well aware that the majority of the population do use the correct term ‘remote’, but I can’t help finding it a bit dry and know that ‘button box’ will be forever ingrained on my consciousness.  Nevertheless, I’m not alone in preferring an alternative name for the remote control, so here are a few others that I’ve come across…

The Doo-dah

What do you call the Remote Control?

This has a nice sing-song feel, but I can’t imagine it being used in anger when the said Doo-dah has vanished under the sofa. “I can’t find the damn doo-dah!”  Nope, just doesn’t work.

The Whizzer

This one comes courtesy of Emma, who has opted not to continue with her Mom’s tradition of calling the remote The Whizzer. It has a certain ring to it, but unfortunately all I can think of is the accident-prone puppy in the 1996 film 101 Dalmations

The Whatsit

It’s used by the best of us in those moments of memory lapse, but I have been told that in some families The Whatsit is the standard name for the remote. Must get confusing when you’re having a forgetful day and are looking for a different Whatsit though.

The Fat Controller

Definitely my favourite alternative name, apart from Button Box, of course, as it combines logic with popular culture – if you actually don’t get the Thomas the Tank reference here, shame on you.

The Bodger

Thanks to Andy for telling me about The Bodger. Not one I’ve come across before today, but if I had two remotes I’d definitely now be inclined to differentiate between them by naming them Bodger and Badger. On second thoughts, that might get confusing.

The Zapper

In my mind, The Zapper evokes imagery of space battles or wizards duelling. Has anyone invented a remote control that flashes when you press a button or has epic sound effects?  I’m sure the novelty would wear off soon enough but the idea is enough to make Zapper another strong contender.

I was going to end the list there, but these three just came into conversation at the last minute and who can resist The Flicker, The Doodler or, best of all, the Digga-Digga? Well, I know the answer to that: everyone who just sticks with calling it the remote control.