DingbatA dingbat is a ornament or spacer used in typesetting, sometimes more formally known as a "printer's ornament". The term supposedly originated as onomatopoeia in old style metal-type print shops, where extra space around text or illustrations would be filled by "ding"ing an ornament into the space then "bat"ing tight to be ready for inking.
Poem typeset with generous use of decorative dingbats, 1880s
The term has continued to be used in the computer industry to describe fonts that are made up of symbols and shapes instead of alphabetical or numeric characters.
Cartoonist George Herriman had a newspaper comic strip called "The Dingbat Family", as it was originally of a small size so that printers could use it to fill space on the comics page like a dingbat. "The Dingbat Family" was an ancestor of Herriman's most famous creation, "Krazy Kat". The comic strip may have influenced the slang usage of the term "dingbat" as given below.
Dingbat is also a slang term, no longer widely used, to describe someone who has a silly, foolish, or clownish demeanor. It was a favorite insult of the fictional character Archie Bunker in the 1970s television show All In The Family.
There is also a game called "Dingbats".