The text from my daughter was; “Why does Dad call it the idiot light?” I knew exactly what she meant, it was a reference to the light on the car dashboard that indicates that the gas tank is almost empty.

Our daughter moved to Ohio last year after graduating from college, to take a job. Her colleague and friend was confused and perplexed by the idiot light comment, thereby prompting the text. While my daughter and I have fun comparing the linguistic and regional differences between southwest Virginia and Northeast Ohio, this was a family-ism. She used this term without thinking much about it, and assumed that it was widely known. However, I suppose it says more about my husband’s view of this particular technology and its relationship with the user than any cultural distinction.

I wonder if anyone else uses this term? And I wonder what interesting terms others might use for computer related objects or actions?

11 thoughts on “Family-ism

  1. So interesting! My family has used the term “idiot lights” or “idiot light” to refer to the full suite of dashboard notification lights, or any one in particular that may be active at the time. Most often, of the low-gas or “check engine soon” variety.

    A couple family-isms from my childhood, and then more recent days: “buck-chucker” or “money wall” (ATM); up until only the last year or so my youngest kids referred to our iPhones and the iPod-touch as “little iPads”.

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