Date: Wed, 11 Oct 1995 21:50:53 -0400

From: Seth Sklarey crissiet[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]IPOF.FLA.NET

Subject: Re: zapping, zappers & binger-bongers

I'm back from a long trip to France where I was not on-line (probably

nobody noticed).

I have a question about "le zapping" that y'all can help me with.

The term is very general now in France with the specific meaning of

using a remote control to change TV channels. I'm trying to determine

if it is a pseudo-Anglicism forged by the French. While we can all

"zap" a commercial, I know of no term for this practice as "zapping".

The mystery is that the OED (2nd ed) lists it as an Americanism, but

quotes only two British newspapers as authorities and furnishes no

other attestations of it. Nor is it to be found with this sense in

any of the many dictionaries of slang and new words that I have


So, does anyone out there know anything about where "zapping" might be

lurking in North America? What terms do you use for this practice, if any?

Channel surfing? Others?


Mike Picone

University of Alabama


I would guess an origin in a comic book such as Batman but I don't really

know. However, my ex-wife is the only one I ever heard who called the

zapping device a binger-bonger, which I prefer over channel changer, clicker,

or anything else. What say you all?

Seth Sklarey

Wittgenstein School of the Unwritten Word

Coconut Grove, FL