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The Jargon File is a compendium of computer jargon from long ago, when the term hacker had not yet been seized upon by the press as a label for computer vandals and criminals.

In 1983, Harper & Row published the Jargon File as The Hacker's Dictionary. In 1991, MIT Press published an updated version of the Jargon File as The New Hacker's Dictionary. Revised editions of the book were published in 1993 and 1996. The book includes a complete history of the File and its print editions.

The New Hacker's Dictionary is a nice book, but the unity of the original Jargon File was diluted in the process of adding terms from Unix users and other groups. Originally, the File was almost exclusively a compilation of the lingo of three groups: the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab, the Stanford University Artificial Intelligence Lab, and the Tech Model Railroad Club at MIT. Now, however, it is a hodgepodge of terms used by the many groups that have adopted the name hacker. Therefore, in the interests of history and nostalgia, I'm hosting an old version of the File here on my web site.

I used the free info2html program to convert this copy of the Jargon File from its original Emacs Info format into HTML. The only changes I made to its output were to add this introduction, to add my standard header and footer to every page, and to note that one number is expressed in octal.

Please don't send email to the addresses listed in this version of the Jargon File. Instead, see The Jargon File is a living document for information about submitting new jargon for consideration in future editions.

Go forward to Constructs.

 This is a general glossary of most commonly-used computer jargon. If
       you don't see something that should be here, send mail to
       lum@cis.ohio-state.edu, don@sail.stanford.edu, gls@ai.ai.mit.edu,
       and/or mrc@sail.stanford.edu, along with a suggested definition. 

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Notes
[Updating this file]
Constructs
[Verb doubling, soundalikes, etc]
@Begin
the @Begin(mode) ... @End(mode) convention
Angle Brackets
the < ... > bracket characters
AOS
a synonym for increment
Arg
an abbrev for argument
Automagically
automatically, in an unexplained manner
Bagbiter
a pejorative for losing systems
Bang
the ! character
Bar
a metasyntatic variable
Barf
a term of disgust
Bells and Whistles
all the little fiddly bits
Bignums
multiple-precision integers
BIN
an abbrev for binary
Binary
a binary file
Bit
a binary digit
Bitblt
bitwise block transfer or calculation
Bit Bucket
a place to dump unwanted data
Bletch
a term of disgust
Blt
the block transfer instruction or method
Bogosity
the degree to which something is bogus
Bogus
non-functional, useless, false, incorrect, silly
Bounce
to play volleyball
Brain-Damaged
obviously wrong, cretinous, demented
Break
to cause to break or be broken; to breakpoint
Broken
not working properly, behaving strangely
Broket
the < ... > bracket characters
Bucky Bits
the extra-high-order (8th/9th) bits of ASCII chars
Bug
an unwanted or unintended property
Bum
to optimize for efficiency
Buzz
to run in a very tight loop
Canonical
the standard state or manner of something
Catatonia
suspended animation; being wedged or hung
CDR
to trace down a list of elements
Chine Nual
the Lisp Machine Manual
Chomp
to lose, to chew on too much
Close
), >, ], } close bracket characters
Cokebottle
any unusual characters
Com Mode
the communication or "TALK" mode
Connector Conspiracy
the perverse avoidance of compatibility
CONS
to synthesize from smaller pieces
Crash
sudden, drastic failure
Cretin
congenital loser
CRLF
a Carriage Return Line Feed char pair
Crock
an awkward, crufty feature or technique
Crufty
poorly built, obtusely complex
Crunch
to process in a time-consuming manner
CTY
the controlling terminal of a system
Cuspy
well-written, functionally excellent
Daemon
programs which are not explicitly invoked
Day Mode
(see phase)
Deadlock
a situation of fruitless waiting
Deadly Embrace
(ditto)
Demented
a term of disgust
Demon
program routines which are not explicity invoked
Diablo
a letter-quality printing terminal
Diddle
to work in a non-serious manner
Dike
to remove or disable a module
DMP
a binary file
Do Protocol
to follow an established procedure
Down
non-functional, temporarily
DPB
to insert in the middle
Dragon
programs which run concurrently with the monitor
DWIM
"Do what I mean"
English
a program's source files
Epsilon
very small, negligible, less than marginal
EXCH
to exchange two things
EXCL
the ! character (exclamation)
EXE
a binary file
Faulty
losing, but with milder connotation
Feature
a surprising, useful property of a program
Feep
a soft beep
Fencepost Error
discrete boundary condition error (off by one)
Fine
good, but not good enough to be cuspy
Firebottle
a primitive equivalent of an FET
Flag Day
an incompatible software change
Flakey
unreliable, subject to frequent lossages
Flame
to rave, to speak incessantly or rabidly
Flap
to unload tape (so the end flaps)
Flavor
variety, type, kind
Flavorful
aesthetically pleasing
Flush
to delete or remove something
Foo
a metasyntactic variable
Fried
non-functional due to hardware failure, burnt out
Frob
any smallish thing
Frobnicate
to tweak some small thing
Frobnitz
an unspecified object, a widjet, a black box
Frog
a term of disgust
Frotz
(see frobnitz)
Fry
to fail, esp. of hardware, esp. with smoke
FTP
File Transfer Protocol ala ARPANET, to transfer files
Fudge
to perform in a marginally acceptable way
Fudge Factor
an ad hoc value or parameter varied for effect
Gabriel
any unnecessary stalling tactic
Garbage Collect
garbage collection; see GC
Garply
a metasyntactic variable
Gas
a term of disgust and hatred
GC
to clean up, to recycle, to forget
Gedanken
thought-experiment, programming-in-vacuum, methods
Glass TTY
a display terminal which behaves like a teletype
Glitch
a sudden interruption in service, sanity, or function
Glork
a term of mild surprise, tinged with outrage
Gobble
to consume or to obtain
Gorp
a metasyntactic variable
Grind
to format code, esp. LISP code; to crunch
Gritch
to complain
Grok
to comprehend in a global manner
Gronk
to restart, to break
Grovel
to work interminably without progress
Grungy
incredibly dirty or grubby
Gubbish
a portmanteau of garbage and rubbish
Gun
to terminate with extreme prejudice
Hack
quick or clever programming or program, etc
Hacker
someone who programs quickly or cleverly, etc
Hackish
being or involving a hack
Hair
the complications which make something hairy
Hairy
overly complicated, incomprehensible, etc
Hakmem
MIT AI Memo 239 (February 1972) - neat hacks
Handwave
to gloss over complex material
Hardwarily
pertaining to hardware
Hello Wall
(see wall)
Hirsute
hairy
Hook
something which exists to allow modification
Humongous
large, unwieldy, usually unmanageable
Hungus
(ditto)
Impcom
(see telnet)
Infinite
any extremely large number or quantity
IRP
to iterate with minor variations
JFCL
to cancel or annul something
Jiffy
a small interval of time, eg, 1/60 or 1/1000 sec
Jock
someone who handles large, brute-force programs
J. Random
an emphatic form of random
JRST
to suddenly go on to something else
JSYS
a jump to system monitor call
Kluge
something clever, that works for the wrong reason
LDB
to extract from the middle
Life
a cellular automata by John Horton Conway
Line Feed
the Line Feed character
Line Starve
the absence of a Line Feed character
Logical
virtual, not physical
Lose
to fail, to be exceptionally unaesthetic or obnoxious
Loser
an unexpectedly bad situation, program/mer, or person
Loss
something which loses
Lossage
the result of a loss, bug, or malfunction
LPT
a line printer
Luser
(see user)
Macrotape
an industry standard reel of tape
Magic
unexplained, too complicated to explain
Marginal
extremely small, esp. of merit or likelihood of winning
Microtape
the original name of DECtape, very small reels of tape
Misfeature
a feature which screws someone, a perennial annoyance
Moby
large, immense, complex; numerically, 256K
Mode
a state, usually with a descriptive adjective
Modulo
except for, ignoring
Moon
a celestial object characterised by having phases
Mumblage
a topic of mumbling
Mumble
a substitue for a full response
Munch
to process serially with much computation
Munching Squares
a clever display hack; see HAKMEM 146-148
Mung
"mung until no good"; to change irrevocably
N
any number, large, indeterminate, or known from context
Night Mode
(see phase)
Nil
no, false
Obscure
totally incomprehensible
Open
the (, <, [, { bracket characters
Parse
to determine syntactic structure, to understand
Patch
a temporary or quick-and-dirty fix to code
PDL
a push down list, LIFO queue, or, loosely, any queue
Pessimal
maximally bad
Pessimizing Compiler
one producing code worse than the obvious translation
Phantom
programs which run concurrently with the monitor
Phase
the phase of one's circadian schedule
Phase of the moon
a random parameter on which something depends
Plugh
(see xyzzy)
POM
an abbrev for phase of the moon
Pop
to return from a digression
PPN
a project-programmer number
Protocol
(see do protocol)
Pseudoprime
a backgammon prime lacking one point
PTY
a pseudoterminal, a simulated software terminal
Punt
to give up, often without intending to try again
Push
to enter into a digression
Ques
the ? character (question)
Quux
a metasyntactic variable
Random
unpredictable, assorted, undirected, incoherent
Randomness
an inexplicable misfeature, gratuitous inelegance
Rape
to (metaphorically) screw someone or something
Rave
to persist on a topic, to annoy someone verbally
Real user
someone who pays real money for computer usage
Real world
the location of the status quo
Recursion
(see recursion)
REL
a binary file
Right thing
the obviously correct or appropriate thing
Rude
badly written, functionally poor
Sacred
reserved for the exclusive use of something
Saga
a cuspy bogus raving story about N random broken people
SAV
a binary file
Semi
an abbrev for semicolon
Server
a daemon which perform service on request
Shift left (right) logical
to move to the side or out of the way
SHR
a binary file
Shriek
the ! character
69
a large number or quantity
Slop
a one-sided fudge factor
Slurp
to read a large data file entirely into core
Smart
something which does the right thing
Smoking clover
a psychedelic color munch due to Gosper
SMOP
a "simple matter of programming", not yet written
Snarf
to grab, esp. of a large file
Software rot
the tendency of programs to break down over time
Softwarily
pertaining to software
SOS
a line editor; a synonym for decrement
Spazz
to behave spastically or erratically
Splat
a name for various characters
Supdup
a super-duper flavor of ARPANET TELNET
State
condition, situation
Stoppage
extreme lossage, complete unusability
STY
(see pty)
Superprogrammer
a rare synonym for wizard or hacker
Swapped
to (not) be available, usually with in or out
System
any large program, eg, the monitor, method, etc
T
yes, true
Tail recursion
(see tail recursion)
Talk mode
(see com mode)
Taste
elegance, absence of hacks and kluges
TECO
the text editor and corrector programming language
Telnet
to communicate with another ARPANET host via TELNET
Tense
very clever and efficient
TERPRI
to output a crlf
Theor



Hosted by: Arthur A. Gleckler