The folk term “dongle” requires a bit of history. When the iPhone 7 came out, Apple announced that they had removed the headphone jack from the bottom of the phone. To work around this, they sold adapters that would allow people to plug headphones into their new iPhones. The folkspeech that refers to these adapters was described to me by a friend outside of a party.

“A dongle now is, is referring to the dongle that allows you to listen to music with your regular, like, three, like your regular eighth inch adapter, your aux adapter into your iPhone, which doesn’t have that port anymore. And if it were called adapter, people would just, it would, it would sort of be a normal thing. But because it’s like, ‘Aw, man, I don’t have the dongle with me,’ or something, like, ‘I can’t listen to music now.’ It’s just like, I think it really is a derogatory – or at least it has a bad connotation to it.”

“The word ‘dongle’ to me has always been adapter. I don’t know when it started. Uh, I’d say that the connotation of dongle, as opposed to adapter, is negative, right? Like a dongle is sort of like something that is like unwieldy, that you don’t wanna be carrying around.”