/frob'nits/, pl. `frobnitzem' /frob'nit-zm/ or
`frobni' /frob'ni/ [TMRC] n. An unspecified physical object, a
widget. Also refers to electronic black boxes. This rare form is
usually abbreviated to `frotz', or more commonly to frob
Also used are `frobnule' (/frob'n[y]ool/) and `frobule'
(/frob'yool/). Starting perhaps in 1979, `frobozz'
/fr*-boz'/ (plural `frobbotzim' /fr*-bot'zm/) has also
become very popular, largely through its exposure as a name via
. These can also be applied to nonphysical objects, such
as data structures.
Pete Samson, compiler of the TMRC
lexicon, adds, "Under the
TMRC [railroad] layout were many storage boxes, managed (in 1958)
by David R. Sawyer. Several had fanciful designations written on
them, such as `Frobnitz Coil Oil'. Perhaps DRS intended Frobnitz
to be a proper name, but the name was quickly taken for the
thing". This was almost certainly the origin of the term.