The New Hackers Dictionary

Eric S. Raymond [editor]

#======= THIS IS THE JARGON FILE, VERSION 4.2.2, 20 AUG 2000 =======# This is the Jargon File, a comprehensive compendium of hacker slang illuminating many aspects of hackish tradition, folklore, and humor.
This document (the Jargon File) is in the public domain, to be freely used, shared, and modified. There are (by intention) no legal restraints on what you can do with it, but there are traditions about its proper use to which many hackers are quite strongly attached. Please extend the courtesy of proper citation when you quote the File, ideally with a version number, as it will change and grow over time. (Examples of appropriate citation form: "Jargon File 4.2.2" or "The on-line hacker Jargon File, version 4.2.2, 20 AUG 2000".)
The Jargon File is a common heritage of the hacker culture. Over the years a number of individuals have volunteered considerable time to maintaining the File and been recognized by the net at large as editors of it. Editorial responsibilities include: to collate contributions and suggestions from others; to seek out corroborating information; to cross-reference related entries; to keep the file in a consistent format; and to announce and distribute updated versions periodically. Current volunteer editors include:
Eric Raymond [5][email protected]
Although there is no requirement that you do so, it is considered good form to check with an editor before quoting the File in a published work or commercial product. We may have additional information that would be helpful to you and can assist you in framing your quote to reflect not only the letter of the File but its spirit as well.
All contributions and suggestions about this file sent to a volunteer editor are gratefully received and will be regarded, unless otherwise labelled, as freely given donations for possible use as part of this public-domain file.
From time to time a snapshot of this file has been polished, edited, and formatted for commercial publication with the cooperation of the volunteer editors and the hacker community at large. If you wish to have a bound paper copy of this file, you may find it convenient to purchase one of these. They often contain additional material not found in on-line versions. The two `authorized' editions so far are described in the Revision History section; there may be more in the future.
* [6]Introduction: The purpose and scope of this File
* [7]A Few Terms: Of Slang, Jargon and Techspeak
* [8]Revision History: How the File came to be
* [9]Jargon Construction: How hackers invent jargon
* [10]Hacker Writing Style: How they write
* [11]Email Quotes: And the Inclusion Problem
* [12]Hacker Speech Style: How hackers talk
* [13]International Style: Some notes on usage outside the U.S.
* [14]Lamer-speak: Crackers, Phreaks, and Lamers
* [15]Pronunciation Guide: How to read the pronunciation keys
* [16]Other Lexicon Conventions: How to read lexicon entries
* [17]Format for New Entries: How to submit new entries for the File
* [18]The Jargon Lexicon: The lexicon itself
* [19]Appendix A: Hacker Folklore
* [20]Appendix B: A Portrait of J. Random Hacker
* [21]Appendix C: Helping Hacker Culture Grow
* [22]Bibliography: For your further enjoyment
Node:Introduction, Next:[23]A Few Terms, Previous:[24]Top, Up:[25]Top
This document is a collection of slang terms used by various subcultures of computer hackers. Though some technical material is included for background and flavor, it is not a technical dictionary; what we describe here is the language hackers use among themselves for fun, social communication, and technical debate.
The `hacker culture' is actually a loosely networked collection of subcultures that is nevertheless conscious of some important shared experiences, shared roots, and shared values. It has its own myths, heroes, villains, folk epics, in-jokes, taboos, and dreams. Because hackers as a group are particularly creative people who define themselves partly by rejection of `normal' values and working habits, it has unusually rich and conscious traditions for an intentional culture less than 40 years old.
As usual with slang, the special vocabulary of hackers helps hold their culture together -- it helps hackers recognize each other's places in the community and expresses shared values and experiences. Also as usual, not knowing the slang (or using it inappropriately) defines one as an outsider, a mundane, or (worst of all in hackish vocabulary) possibly even a [26]suit. All human cultures use slang in this threefold way -- as a tool of communication, and of inclusion, and of exclusion.
Among hackers, though, slang has a subtler aspect, paralleled perhaps in the slang of jazz musicians and some kinds of fine artists but hard to detect in most technical or scientific cultures; parts of it are code for shared states of consciousness. There is a whole range of altered states and problem-solving mental stances basic to high-level hacking which don't fit into conventional linguistic reality any better than a Coltrane solo or one of Maurits Escher's `trompe l'oeil' compositions (Escher is a favorite of hackers), and hacker slang encodes these subtleties in many unobvious ways. As a
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