Help! What Do You Call That Thing That Judges Bang?

That thing that judges bang is called a gavel. (But you knew that, didn’t you?)

Read on for more low-frequency vocab.

Note: This post was originally published on July 9, 2013. Some text and images have been updated.

What’s That Thing That Judges Bang?
(and Other Important Questions)

Question: What’s that thing that judges bang? Answer: A gavel. “But that’s easy!” you say. Okay, well, what about the objects listed below? Do you know your obscure vocabulary?

All of the objects pictured here are examples of low-frequency vocabulary words. They don’t come up in conversation because you rarely need to talk about these objects. You just use them, see them, or know of them.

No surprise, then, that people ask themselves questions like “What’s that thing that judges bang?”

See if you can name the items below before you look at the answers. Warning: Don’t click on the hyperlink for an answer unless you want to see ALL of the answers. (Note that some objects have more than one name.)

1. What’s that thing on movie sets that they use when they say action?

You’ve seen it on movie sets. It’s got black and white stripes. It makes a clack sound when a take begins. In addition, it lists the name of the production, the scene number, and the take number. So what is that thing on a movie set called?

I want to know what this thing is called!

clapperboard used on movie sets

2. What’s that thing that you use to take a pizza out of an oven?

You may never have used this thing, but you’ve undoubtedly seen it. It’s usually made of wood. It’s got a long handle and holds the pizza when you put it in and take it out of the oven. Most foodies and chefs know the term. Do you?

I want to appear smart in the kitchen. Tell me.

pizza peel

3. What’s that thing in a checkbook for keeping track of transactions?

I may be dating myself with this one. I know not everyone has an actual checkbook. Or if they do, they may not use it. But there’s a bound insert that goes into the checkbook where you record all your deposits and withdrawals.

I’m not sure what this is called… but I must know.

checkbook register

4. What’s that thing that you put pills in?

Well, maybe you don’t put pills in it because you’re not on 12 different medications…yet. But your grandpa’s got one. It’s usually made of plastic. It has a separate compartment for each day of the week.

I want to be a font of low-frequency vocabulary. Educate me.

pill organizer

5. What’s that thing that you use to open and close mini-blinds?

It’s plastic. It’s long and slender. When you twist it, the slats on your mini-blinds open or close. Note: We’re looking for something more specific than “that window thingy.”

Even if I had ten years, a bunch of keyboards, and an entire team of monkeys typing at random, I couldn’t come up with the name for this thing.


1. A clapperboard (just one of its many names) is used in filmmaking to help synchronize video and sound.

2. A peel is a shovel-like tool that pizza chefs use to slide pizzas (and breads and pastries) in and out of ovens.

3. A check register, checkbook register, or transaction register lets you keep track of the debits and credits to your checking account.

4. A pill organizer, pill container, or pill box helps people who are on medication take the right dose each day. Pill organizer is more descriptive than pill container and pill box, which imply that the device is for storing pills, not organizing them.

5. A tilt wand or tilt rod is the mechanism that allows you to open and close mini-blinds by twisting.