30 Times People Asked “What Is This Thing?” And The Internet Delivered

Oh, the wonders of the Internet. If you’ve ever stumbled upon an odd-looking artifact in your attic or a bizarre gizmo at a yard sale and thought, “What on Earth is this thing?” you’re not alone. In fact, there’s a whole community on Reddit dedicated to answering such perplexing questions.

Enter r/WhatIsThisThing, where curious souls post pictures of their mysterious finds and rely on the collective detective skills of thousands to unveil their secrets. From ancient tools to unidentified critters, this subreddit has seen it all. And boy, did they deliver.

Here are 30 times people turned to the web’s favorite detectives and got their answers.

1. “What is this thing? A green and white pendant was found in my stocking 18 years ago. No one knows where it came from.”

Answer: It’s a jadeite pendant with a space to hold herbs or sandalwood. The word on the back is “fu,” which means “luck”.

2. “I found this on our new house’s top landing banister rail. Seems like it’s meant to hold something, but not sure what it is?”

Answer: It looks like a hair dryer holder. But it’s unclear why the previous owners chose such a strange place for it.

3. “What is this attachment on the shower wall in our apartment? It looks too wide to hold soap.”

Answer: It’s a soap dish/sponge holder.

4. “I found this at an old decommissioned salmon canning facility.”

Answer: It cleans the chimney.

5. “My mother’s friend found this with her mother’s possessions.”

Answer: This is used for clipping gloves to your handbag.

6. “I found this flat spoon-sized racket with a king handle.”

Answer: It’s a vintage letter opener.

7. “What is this clip tool attached to a wristband?”

Answer: It’s for someone playing an instrument in a marching band to hold their sheet music.

8. “My boyfriend found this in his room and now demands explanations. I don’t know what it is and where it came from.”

Answer: “I can tell you what that thing is… A RED FLAG! It’s a woman’s hygienic article wrapping, and it’s you who should be asking what it is doing in his room.”

9. “I found this thing in my basement. I have no idea what it is.”

Answer: It looks like the base of a yarn winder. Toyota was in the fabric loom business originally.

10. “My grandma is getting rid of a bunch of old silverware. I wonder what this is?”

Answer: It’s a sugar scuttle.

11. “I found this under my bed. It must’ve belonged to the last au pair. What is this thing?”

Answer: It’s an orchestral conductor’s baton.

12. “What is this?”

Answer: “Today is my birthday and I turned 55. But nothing made me feel older than seeing this post and knowing immediately what these were. Flashbulbs. Oh my God, I’m so old.”

13. “My ex left me this gift of my dog, what is this hole on the top?”

Answer: “It’s a personalized dog planter for a tiny plant. You can send in a pic of your dog, and they’ll create one that looks similar. They are also super pricy.”

14. “I found this in a random box of kitchen supplies.”

Answer: It’s to slice bread.

15. “I found this hanging in the basement of our new house.”

Answer: It’s a horse brass strap, they hang off horse tack for decoration.

16. “Vintage furniture with an unclear purpose”

Answer: It’s a rack for newspapers and magazines.

17. “I inherited this ten years ago and just found out it opens. Why?”

Answer: This is a perfume bottle.

18. “I spotted this in a thrift store. It’s a glass object, plugs in, several openings with a central tube.”

Answer: “It’s an old subwoofer for a computer. Apple used to sell a version back in the day.”

19. “What’s this small scoop with an alligator clip as the handle? I found it cleaning out the kitchen.”

Answer: “It’s a coffee scoop with a bag clip for the coffee bag.”

20. “What’s this steel wire frame with two glass marbles? It was found in an old garage among various stuff. The marbles can turn inside the frame.”

Answer: “It’s a razor blade sharpener.”

21. “I found it in the woods. What is it?”

Answer: “It’s a toy. You put a paper cap in it and throw it in the air. It pops the cap when it lands.”

22. “This brass brooch has a hidden spring and opens like a clothespin. Does anyone recognize this?”

Answer: “It’s a roach clip.”

23. “I found this wired device hidden in the bottom of an old mug.”

Answer: “It’s a little battery-operated device that plays music when the mug is lifted.”

24. “I found this bendy rubber object on the ground. No markings or writing. Bends at the middle easily.”

Answer: “They are ski bones. It holds skis together to make carrying a pair easier.”

25. “I found this green rubber on a neck strap. It has no moving parts.”

Answer: ’’It’s possibly a chewing stim toy. For someone with autism or a raver.’’

26. “It’s hard and plastic. What is it?!”

Answer: ’’Well, it used to be a drinking cup or insert that got melted in a dishwasher.’’

27. “What’s this blue glass thing? It’s about 5 inches high with a hole on top.”

Answer: “That is a whale oil lamp. It’s made of hand-blown glass.”

28. “What does this plastic cap belong to? The tip comes off and covers a small hole.”

Answer: “It’s the mixing cap for a two-part epoxy.”

29. “This was a baby shower gift. Is it what I think it is?!”

Answer: “This is a door silencer. It wraps around and covers the latch on a door so that it doesn’t latch, and the rubber also makes the door open and close silently. The straps go around the doorknob on each side.’’

30. “What’s this glass object filled with an unknown liquid? It was found in an early 1900s barn.”

Answer: “It’s a fire extinguisher.”


Nate Armbruster

Nate Armbruster is a stand-up comedian and writer based in Chicago who is likely writing a joke as you read this. Find him online at natecomedy.com.