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Remote vs. Channel Changer Debate

People Have a LOT of Feelings About What to Call TV Remotes, and It's Hilarious

There are many heated word debates out there — is it soda or pop? Hair ties or ponytail holders? — but one that I was not expecting to feel so passionately about is what to call a channel changer. Or, depending on who you ask, a remote control, a remote, a clicker, or even a switcher.

The various names for the device you use to flip through TV channels seems to really derive from your family's history. Did someone start calling it a zapper 20 years ago and now that's what everyone in your family calls it? Did you grow up calling it a channel changer but get weird looks from anyone else who hears you say that? Whatever word or words you use, you probably feel pretty attached to them. I know I do (channel changer for life!), which is why I recently asked some of my coworkers for their thoughts. Their responses were hilarious, passionate, and varied, proving that this is another word debate that isn't going to end anytime soon. Keep reading to see them all, but know that you'll probably either feel very seen or very attacked.

Channel Changer

What people think:

  • "While this takes the most time and effort to say, I've grown up using this. I sometimes stray and say 'remote,' but for the most part, 'channel changer' is and always will be my go-to. Some of my friends have judged me for saying it and can't believe I do, while others say 'channel changer' too. We stick together."
  • "I have vague memories of using this as a kid — I know that it isn't what my mom says, so maybe my dad used to? It makes me feel nostalgic, regardless."
  • "It was always 'channel changer' in my house growing up, and it has stuck with me since. It's a total mouthful, and my mom always jokingly called it the 'changel changer' because of it. I honestly still call it the 'changel changer' if I'm not making the effort to say it correctly, but my friends all know I have a lot of Midwesternisms in my vernacular and are used to it now."

Remote Control

What people think:

  • "'Remote control' just makes me think of RC cars from childhood, and thus, RC from Toy Story."
  • "Growing up in England, it was definitely 'remote control.' Now I just say 'remote,' but I think that's the effect of watching far too much American telly. I mean TV."


What people think:

  • "This is and always will be the ONLY word I use. My parents said 'remote' when I was growing up, and even now when the TV my roommate and I have is controlled by an app on our phones (technology!), I call it a 'remote.'"
  • "I can't be bothered to say more than 'remote' when lounging in front of the TV, because it's usually the end of the day and I'm utterly exhausted. (Related: I'm 85 years old.) I realise that 'clicker' is just as efficient, but I've never heard anyone in real life use it until today."
  • This is definitely the one I grew up using and I think it's just so much easier than saying 'remote control' all the time. On the flip side, sometimes I abbreviate the other half and just say 'control,' but they're interchangeable for me."
  • "'Remote' is for sure what I use the most, whether it be a TV remote, game console controller (this annoys my fiancé to no end — 'It's a controller, damnit'), or the remote for our AC unit. It's quick and gets the job done."
  • "Definitely the only thing I call it! I always thought it was funny when I heard people call it a 'clicker.'
  • "People . . . don't call it a remote?"
  • "'Pass the remote' sounds so natural and correct. Only people that are 80 and older can call it a 'clicker.'"
  • "It's called 'remote.' I'd honestly be confused if someone asked me to pass the 'clicker.'"
  • "'Remote' and 'remote control' are interchangeable. 'Clicker' is for grandparents."


What people think:

  • "Growing up we had an actual clicker that clicked. It had three buttons: on/off, channels, and volume. Volume could click one direction — up/loud — and then at some point it would reach peak volume and go back to the beginning. And the clicker itself rattled. I feel so disconnected from the words 'remote control.'"
  • "'Clicker.' I think I say it because my parents said it when I was younger, so I was brought up referring to the remote this way. But I get made fun of constantly for it. My old roommates used to say, 'The clicker? You mean the remote?' My boyfriend also always corrects me, calling it the 'remote' and asking me what a 'clicker' is. I guess 'clicker' is outdated (I mean, it definitely doesn't make a clicking noise anymore), but I'm sticking with it."
  • "This is what my mom calls it, and even though it's not my go-to choice, it still pops into my head every once in a while and makes me smile. My mom is who I watched TV with growing up, and there were always constant yells of 'Where the hell did the clicker go?'"
  • "My entire family has always called it a 'clicker.' Other than my immediate family, I haven't met a lot of people who also call it that, but out of all the above options, I still think 'clicker' makes more sense phonetically."
  • "My parents called it a 'clicker,' even though I think we lost every single one in our house and ended up resorting to the old 'stand up and switch the channel' strategy after a while."


What people think:

  • "My family either called it the 'remote' or the 'switcher' and the older I get, the more I realise that we might be the only family that calls it a 'switcher.' And even though 'switcher' may be a weird word to use, I will never, ever call it the 'clicker.' My aunt and uncle call it the 'clicker,' so it's not an unfamiliar term to me, it's just one of those words that doesn't sound nice to my ears."
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