A cartoon with fascist propaganda in order to submit the young minds of the masses to the environmentalism of the 90's. Widget was a purple alien who came to kick ass against evil polluters and poachers. Conforms to the Captain Planet hype of the same time period. Widget was helped by two small boys who followed him around and never went to school. Widget lived in a small cave.

1. In economics teaching, a widget is just an unspecified thing that a factory or a company makes. So you get exercises that say "Bloggs Widgets Inc. makes 200 widgets a year at a nett cost of 5c apiece, with a profit... How much...?", or they make six widgets a year at £1000 pounds each, and if each... .

It is just a variable used by economists, a bit like foo and bar in computers. I don't know where the word comes from but I'm pretty certain the usage in economics way precedes its borrowing into other fields.

2. Some twit had the bright idea of calling a thingummyjig used in cans of beer a "widget". This rather spoils sense 1. But what happened in recent years in England was that some bright spark, trying to sell real ale in cans, which is intrinsically a contradiction in terms, devised a kind of foofer that squirts carbon dioxide into the beer when you open it to give it a head. They needed a name: so they could call it a foofer or a squirter-upperer, or... well someone who'd done a spot of elementary economics obviously decided it was cute to call it a "widget".

WIBNI = W = wiggles

widget n.

1. A meta-thing. Used to stand for a real object in didactic examples (especially database tutorials). Legend has it that the original widgets were holders for buggy whips. "But suppose the parts list for a widget has 52 entries...." 2. [poss. evoking `window gadget'] A user interface object in X graphical user interfaces.

--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.

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