76

I want to call it a "mouse nipple" or maybe a "joystick", although I know these are not correct.

It's different from the touchpad, which is below the keyboard and has dedicated click buttons. Instead, it sits smack in the middle of the keyboard at the bottom right corner of the G key and bottom left corner of the H key. Tapping it translates to a click and nudging it left/right/up/down controls the pointer on the screen.

What is the correct term for this thing? I'd like to google some info about configuring it, but my google fu fails without the proper name.

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  • 27
    "annoying" sums it up for me.
    – Shadur
    Jun 19, 2012 at 17:00
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    Whatever it is, it kills trackpads! Love that red nub Jun 20, 2012 at 4:18
  • 2
    It's always been called a 'nipple' be it a keyboard/mouse/laptop nipple... Have called them that for 8+ years and informed many thousands of others it's called such :)
    – HaydnWVN
    Jun 20, 2012 at 16:16
  • 2
    We called it the clit. I'm surprised nobody else mentioned it. Feb 13, 2015 at 14:59
  • 2
    The challenge is to find an appropriate term that doesn't have a sexual connotation.
    – Jahmic
    Nov 29, 2016 at 7:14

7 Answers 7

88

pointing stick

The above device is generically called pointing stick:

The pointing stick (trademarked by IBM as the TrackPoint and by Synaptics as the TouchStyk) is an isometric joystick used as a pointing device (compare especially touchpad and trackball). It was invented by research scientist Ted Selker. It is present on many brands of laptops, including Lenovo's line of ThinkPad laptops, Toshiba Tecra laptops, HP business notebooks and on Dell Latitudes under the name of Track Stick. It has also been used on computer mice and on some desktop keyboards (as an integrated pointing device).

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  • 15
    On a side note: The first result for the Google query mouse nipple is actually the Wikipedia entry I quoted.
    – Dennis
    Jun 19, 2012 at 13:33
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    I like mouse nipple can I get a trademark for that? Just think of the potential to advertise..."The Mouse Nipple 34DD is the newest improvement...in nipple technolgy."
    – Ramhound
    Jun 19, 2012 at 13:48
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    I've always called it a nipple. After all, it bears no relation to pointing or stick whatsoever. Jun 20, 2012 at 14:04
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    I typically refer to it as "That IBM touch-pad replacement I used as a mouse when I completed Half-life 1 on Hard.Request clarification or suggest improvements.
    – shieldfoss
    Jul 19, 2013 at 11:39
74

Apparently, the thing goes by many different names...

One of the most formal names is TrackPoint™-style pointer.

Other less formal or abusive names can be found on XKCD (16+, may not be safe for work).

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  • 3
    Nub was the first thing that came to mind.
    – Bratch
    Jun 19, 2012 at 15:05
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    "Stupid red cap that pops off and gets lost in the bottom of the bag" , "Eraser that got attacked by a Dremel"...
    – voretaq7
    Jun 19, 2012 at 15:41
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    I wish we could up-vote edits. I almost down-voted the original incarnation of this answer, since it was more of a joke answer than actually useful. Now I don't want to up-vote it because the credit won't go to the person who actually made it more appropriate.
    – Iszi
    Jun 19, 2012 at 17:53
  • The original incarnation contained an image with the answer "TrackPoint™". I don't think "Style Pointer" is a name for it, rather a "TrackPoint™ Style Pointer" (all one name) - so if anything the edit has lessened the usefulness/correctness. Up-voted for the original answer as it was.
    – lucideer
    Jun 19, 2012 at 18:45
  • IBM is (was) a big player in producing these things, and their product was called TrackPoint. So TrackPoint Style Pointer means a pointer in TrackPoint style.
    – ONOZ
    Jun 20, 2012 at 8:55
29

There is no single correct term since there is no de-jure authority for naming of computer parts.

Different manufacturers use differrent names, you could therefore choose to regard the makers name for a thing as it's correct name

  • IBM: Track Point
  • Dell: Track Stick
  • Toshiba: AccuPoint

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pointing_stick#Naming_and_brands

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  • Yes, I have known those things as an "accupoint" since about 1999 Jun 19, 2012 at 22:21
  • Indeed. The Satellite Pro got me hooked on the term "accupoint", and also single-handedly made me hate the infernal thing.
    – Nathan Cox
    Jun 19, 2012 at 22:26
  • Just ordered a couple of these from the Dell Preimer website for the CIO a few days ago, they were referred to as "PointSticks"
    – LawrenceC
    Jun 20, 2012 at 11:24
18

I like to call it the "GHB stick", since it usually resides between G, H, and B. However, I'm not aware of anyone else using that particular terminology.

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    This makes a lot of sense actually. I will adapt it, for kicks :D Jun 19, 2012 at 17:51
  • Whoa, this is another weird double entendre en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamma-Hydroxybutyric_acid
    – CamelBlues
    Jun 19, 2012 at 20:42
  • @CamelBlues I knew it sounded familiar, but couldn't pin down why.
    – Iszi
    Jun 19, 2012 at 20:49
  • So would that be the "Ghib stick"?
    – Nathan Cox
    Jun 19, 2012 at 22:27
  • @NathanCox Nice, but I usually just pronounce the letter likes: "gee aitch bee stick".
    – Iszi
    Jun 20, 2012 at 2:27
2

XKCD aside, I've also heard it referred to as a 'pushpoint' - which I guess makes sense as a more generic term for 'trackpoint' just like 'pushpad' is a more generic term than 'trackpad'.

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  • Can't say I've ever heard "pushpad" used in place of "trackpad", but I can see the logic. I'm not really sure how one is particularly more generic than the other, though. Is "trackpad" trademarked or something?
    – Iszi
    Jun 20, 2012 at 13:09
1

eraser

I have heard of it being called the "eraser", or some longer phrase like "eraser pointer", "eraser controller", "eraser stick", "eraser thing", etc. (Some implementations just look like a little red cylinder, and don't have little bumps on the top, like the bumps on the picture above. Perhaps especially due to their commonly-red color, they look kind of like a thin pencil eraser.)

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  • That said, I favor "pointing stick" as the most generic and technically-accepted term. I'm just adding this to the mix as I've definitely heard this being used on multiple occasions.
    – TOOGAM
    Sep 17, 2017 at 1:28
0

When it's clear from context that you're talking about a computer input device (so you don't need the more precise terms in Dennis's and Mark's answers), I've heard it called a nub.

The word nub is also useful to refer particularly to the separable rubber component, when you're distinguishing it from the pointing device as a unit (e.g. when replacing it).

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