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Kill “Dongle”

Let’s all agree to just stop using that word

Ringer illustration
Ringer illustration

As we know by now, this week Apple R.I.P.’d the headphone jack, a cruel move. The havoc this decision is wreaking is manifold: Apple, in true troll fashion, is now making us buy a passive-aggressive cord in order to use our old headphones (in protest I’m on my fifth Apple Music free trial). It raises an important question: How are we supposed to listen to music and charge our phones at the same time? This is essential for those of us who excel at handling the aux cord at parties, in Ubers, and during morning commutes. Our only option is to operate a “dongle” like the one Belkin whipped up and is charging $40 a pop for.

Which brings us to perhaps the most significant of the problems caused by the end of the headphone jack: We’re all stuck saying “dongle.”

According to Google Trends (which, I know, isn’t the authority in web search terms but can still be used as a general popularity tool), there was a definite spike in “dongle” and “dongle”-related searches this week as a result of the iPhone event.

Go ahead and Google this heinous word, and the results will immediately show you who’s responsible for the sudden surge. Apple might be to blame for this week’s obsession with “dongle,” but it certainly didn’t create the term. According to Merriam-Webster, the first known use was in 1981 and is “perhaps [an] alteration of dangle.” That’s the dictionary way of saying “whose mans is this?”

Merriam-Webster (which is officially Twitter’s most lit dictionary) also defines a dongle as: “a small device that plugs into a computer and serves as an adapter or as a security measure to enable the use of certain software.” There are a variety of other words we could use instead of dongle — adapter, connector, and extension cord all would have worked fine. If Apple can come up with “Lightning cable” to mean charger, why couldn’t it have helped us out here and invented some imaginary proprietary name?

What’s most upsetting about the sudden siege of “dongle” is that while Apple is responsible for our using it way too much and all of a sudden, the company itself doesn’t even prefer the word. Apple has taken to using the unwieldy “Lightning to 3.5 mm Headphone Jack Adapter.”

Nonetheless, the word “dongle” has taken root and made a permanent imprint on internet culture. It’s spawned awkward frat bro humor like this:

And there are way more tweets like this than there needs to be:

Will the tyranny of “dongle” ever end? Maybe: After some research and meditation, I’m requesting that Michael Rapaport rename the “dongle,” considering his grade A performance nicknaming Kristaps Porzingis.

It’s still early. No one even owns the iPhone 7 and the free dong — er, adapter — yet. We can do this together.