The fidget spinner craze hit us all by storm. Months ago pretty much no one has seen or heard of a fidget spinner, and then suddenly the spinning toy appeared between the fingers of children and adults around the world.
The invention of the toy is credited to the American chemical engineer Catherine Hettinger, suffering from the autoimmune disorder myasthenia gravis, causing muscle weakness.
Outside of her personal motives, Hettinger states that the idea came to her one day when she saw boys throwing rocks at police officers in Israel, and that she visioned the toy as a stress and violence releaser and peace promoter.
In 1993, she filed a patent application for a plastic toy that spins on the tip of a finger, to fail to successfully market the product and to see the patent expiring in 2005.
As Hettinger’s toy has little in common with the modern one, the name of one IT guy from Seattle spins ahead, Scott McCoskery claims to have created the spinner a few years ago to help him control his fidgeting habits during long meetings. The device was called Torqbar and last year The Forbes proclaimed it as the must have desk toy to fight nervous or bored energy in the office.
The hype got extra steam at the beginning of 2017, when social media span publications of fidget spinning as a life style and tips and tricks on how to become a professional fidgeter.
And while today fidget spinners are among the best selling products and in the hands of everyone, specialists claim that using a spinnerlike gadget is more likely to serve as a distraction rather than a comforter (many schools around the world had already banned the use of fidget spinners), and naturally, watching the spinning motion is for some tranquilising, while for others – irritating.
And now to the etymology.
The term spinner, in the sense of ‘a spinning machine,’ was firstly defined in 1875, in Edward H. Knight’s The practical dictionary of mechanics as: “Spinner, a general term for a spinning-machine… Specifically applied to a form of drawing and twisting device”.
It derives from the verb to spin and the Germanic languages.
The noun fidget, developed in the English language circa 1670s, from the verb to fidge (to move about restlessly or uneasily), with the meaning of ‘a physical uneasiness and the seeking of relief in irregular bodily movements,’ and first recorded in print in 1674, in Nathaniel Fairfax’s A treatise of the bulk and selvedge of the world wherein the greatness, littleness, and lastingness of bodies are freely handled.
And while the future will define the greatness or the littleness of the fidget spinner, what begun as a simple toy to help people focus, reduce anxiety and curb fidgeting habits has grown into a massiv marketing success.