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The Wild and Wacky Evolution of the Widget

April 9, 2011

In our class discussion of the Work Breakdown Structure, the definition of  the “widget” came up.  The Free Dictionary Online offers multiple definitions of the widget.

widg·et (wjt)


1. A small mechanical device or control; a gadget.
2. An unnamed or hypothetical manufactured article.
a. An element of a GUI, such as a text box or button, that displays information or settings that can be entered or altered by the user.
b. A program that performs some simple function, such as providing a weather report or stock quote, and can be accessed from a computer desktop, webpage, mobile phone or subscription television service.
In the Work Breakdown Structure slide, the widget referenced reflected definition 1.  The use of the term widget as an “abstract unit of production” started appearing in economic, accounting and law contexts in the 1930’s.  It is believed that the term originated in the U.S.    It is believed to be a variation on the term gadget.
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