Yoke

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One of my favourite Irish words is the multi-purpose ‘yoke’, used in almost any context to describe almost anything. As a guide to Irish vernacular says yoke can refer to "anything from a spade to a nuclear device". According to the OED yoke is a –

A thing; a thingummy [thingumy? – A thing or (less commonly) person of which the speaker or writer cannot at the moment recall the name, or which he or she is unable to or does not care to specify precisely; a ‘whatchamacallit’].

and a relatively new word, all things considered:

1910 P. W. JOYCE English as we speak it in Ireland xiii. 352 Yoke; any article, contrivance, or apparatus, for use in some work. ‘That’s a quare yoke Bill,’ says a countryman when he first saw a motor car. 1958 N. FITZGERALD Student Body v. 69 Don stooped to pick up the gun… ‘Where’s the safety-catch on these yokes?’ 1979 K. DOWLING Interface: Ireland I. iii. 26 This fecking yoke is maggots up to here!

So yoke is similar to the word ‘walla’ in Hindi which is used both to describe people but also things – usually with some sort of qualifier. In the last few days I’ve heard ‘yoke’ used to describe roofrack fixings, sensors, ‘widgets’ (in the Apple sense)….