perm filename AIWORD.RF[UP,DOC]11 blob sn#291345 filedate 1977-07-04 generic text, type T, neo UTF8
		Notes on updating this file:

This glossary file is being maintained at two main locations.  It is
AIWORD.RF[UP,DOC] at SAIL, and GLS;JARGON > at MIT.  If you make any
changes, be sure to FTP the new file to the other location.

Try to conform to the format already being used--70 character lines,
3-character indentations, pronunciations in parentheses, etymologies
in brackets, single-space after def'n numbers and word classes, etc.

Stick to the standard ASCII character set.

If you'd rather not mung the file yourself, send your definitions to
DON @ SAIL and/or GLS @ MIT-AI.


	Compiled by Guy L. Steele Jr., Raphael Finkel, and
	Donald R. Woods, with assistance from the MIT and
	Stanford AI communities.  Some contributions were
	submitted via the ARPAnet from miscellaneous sites.

Verb doubling: a standard construction is to double a verb and use it
   as a comment on what the implied subject does.  Often used to
   terminate a conversation.  Typical examples involve WIN, LOSE,
	"The disk heads just crashed."  "Lose, lose."
	"Mostly he just talked about his --- crock.  Flame, flame."
	"Boy, what a bagbiter!  Chomp, chomp!"

Soundalike slang: similar to Cockney rhyming slang.  Often made up on
   the spur of the moment.  Standard examples:
	Boston Globe => Boston Glob
	Herald American => Horrid (Harried) American
	New York Times => New York Slime
	Dime Time => Slime Time
	government property - do not duplicate (seen on keys)
		=> government duplicity - do not propagate
   Often the substitution will be made in such a way as to slip in
   a standard jargon word:
	Dr. Dobb's Journal => Dr. Frob's Journal

The -P convention: turning a word into a question by appending the
   syllable "P"; from the LISP convention of appending the letter "P"
   to denote a predicate (a Boolean-values function).  The question
   should expect a yes/no answer, though it needn't.  (See T and NIL.)
	At dinnertime: "Foodp?"  "Yeah, I'm pretty hungry." or "T!"
	"State-of-the-world-P?"  (Straight) "I'm about to go home."
				 (Humorous) "Yes, the world has a state."

Peculiar nouns: MIT AI hackers love to take various words and add the
   wrong endings to them to make nouns and verbs, often by extending a
   standard rule to nonuniform cases.  Examples:
		porous => porosity
		generous => generosity
	Ergo:	mysterious => mysteriosity
		ferrous => ferocity

	Other examples:  winnitude, disgustitude, hackification.

AOS (aus (East coast) ay-ahs (West coast)) [based on a PDP-10
   increment instruction] v. To increase the amount of something.
   "Aos the campfire."  Usage: considered silly.  See SOS.

ANGLE BRACKETS (primarily MIT) n. Either of the characters "<" and
   ">".  See BROKET.

ARG n. Abbreviation for "argument" (to a function), used so often as
   to have become a new word.

AUTOMAGICALLY adv. Automatically, but in a way which, for some reason
   (typically because it is too complicated, or too ugly, or perhaps
   even too trivial), I don't feel like explaining to you.  See MAGIC.
   Example: Some programs which produce XGP output files spool them

BAGBITER 1. n. Equipment or program that fails, usually
   intermittently.  2. BAGBITING: adj. Failing hardware or software.
   "This bagbiting system won't let me get out of spacewar."  Usage:
   verges on obscenity.  Grammatically separable; one may speak of
   "biting the bag".  Synonyms: LOSER, LOSING, CRETINOUS, BLETCHEROUS,

BAR 1. The second metasyntactic variable, after FOO.  "Suppose we have
   two functions FOO and BAR.  FOO calls BAR..."  2. Often appended to
   FOO to produce FOOBAR.

BARF 1. interj. Term of disgust.  See BLETCH.  2. v. choke, as on
   input.  May mean to give an error message.  "The function `='
   compares two fixnums or two flonums, and barfs on anything else."
   3. BARFULOUS, BARFUCIOUS: adj. said of something which would make
   anyone barf, if only for aesthetic reasons.

BIN [short for BINARY; used as a second file name on ITS] 1. n.
   BINARY.  2. BIN FILE: a file containing the BIN for a program.
   Usage: used at MIT, which runs on ITS.  The equivalent term at
   Stanford is DMP (pronounced "dump") FILE.

BINARY n. The object code for a program.

BLETCH [from German "brechen", to vomit (?)] 1. interj. Term of
   disgust.  2. BLETCHEROUS: adj. Disgusting in design or function.
   "This keyboard is bletcherous!"  Usage: slightly comic.

BLT (blit, very rarely belt) [based on the PDP-10 block transfer
   instruction; confusing to users of the PDP-11] 1. v. To transfer a
   large contiguous package of information from one place to another.
   2. THE BIG BLT: n. Shuffling operation on the PDP-10 under some
   operating systems that consumes a significant amount of computer
   time.  3. (usually pronounced B-L-T) n. Sandwich containing bacon,
   lettuce, and tomato.

BROKET [by analogy with "bracket": a "broken bracket"] (primarily
   Stanford) n. Either of the characters "<" and ">".  (At MIT these
   are usually called ANGLE BRACKETS.)

BUCKY BITS (primarily Stanford) n. The bits produced by the CTRL and
   META shift keys on a Stanford (or Knight) keyboard.
   DOUBLE BUCKY: adj. Using both the CTRL and META keys.  "The command
   to burn all LEDs is double bucky F."

BUG [from telephone terminology, "bugs in a telephone cable", blamed
   for noisy lines] n. An unwanted and unintended property of a
   program.  See FEATURE.

BUM 1. v. To make highly efficient, either in time or space, often at
   the expense of clarity.  "I managed to bum three more
   instructions."  2. n. A small change to an algorithm to make it
   more efficient.  Usage: somewhat rare.

CANONICAL adj. The usual or standard state or manner of something.
   A true story:  One Bob Sjoberg, new at the MIT AI Lab, expressed
   some annoyance at the use of jargon.  Over his loud objections, we
   made a point of using jargon as much as possible in his presence,
   and eventually it began to sink in.  Finally, in one conversation,
   he used the word "canonical" in jargon-like fashion without
   Steele: "Aha!  We've finally got you talking jargon too!"
   Stallman: "What did he say?"
   Steele: "He just used `canonical' in the canonical way."
   [Note by MRC:  Does "canonical" have any relationship to the term
   as used by Sherlock Holmes fans for generations?  I'm not sure,
   though I'm both a Sherlock Holmes fan and a hacker.]

CATATONIA (kat-uh'-toe-nee-uh) n. A condition of suspended animation
   in which the system is in a wedged (CATATONIC) state.

CDR (ku'der) [from LISP] v. With "down", to trace down a list of
   elements.  "Shall we cdr down the agenda?"  Usage: silly.

CHOMP v. To lose; to chew on something of which more was bitten off
   than one can.  Probably related to gnashing of teeth.  See
   BAGBITER.  A hand gesture commonly accompanies this, consisting of
   the four fingers held together as if in a mitten or hand puppet,
   and the fingers and thumb open and close rapidly to illustrate a
   biting action.  The gesture alone means CHOMP CHOMP (see Verb

CLOSE n. Abbreviation for "close (or right) parenthesis", used when
   necessary to eliminate oral ambiguity.  See OPEN.

COM MODE (variant: COMM MODE) [from the ITS feature for linking two or
   more terminals together so that text typed on any is echoed on all,
   providing a means of conversation among hackers] n. The state a
   terminal is in when linked to another in this way.  Com mode has a
   special set of jargon words, used to save typing, which are not
   used orally:
	BCNU	Be seeing you.
	BYE?	Are you ready to unlink?  (This is the standard way to
		end a com mode conversation; the other person types
		BYE to confirm, or else continues the conversation.)
	CUL	See you later.
	GA	Go ahead (used when two people have tried to type
		simultaneously; this cedes the right to type to
		the other).
	HELLOP	A greeting, also meaning R U THERE?  (An instance
		of the "-P" convention.)
	NIL	No (see the main entry for NIL).
	R U THERE?	Are you there?
	SEC	Wait a second (sometimes written SEC...).
	T	Yes (see the main entry for T).
	TNX	Thanks.
	<double CRLF>  When the typing party has finished, he types
		two CRLF's to signal that he is done; this leaves a
		blank line between individual "speeches" in the
		conversation, making it easier to re-read the
		preceding text.
	<name>:	When three or more terminals are linked, each speech
		is preceded by the typist's login name and a colon (or
		a hyphen) to indicate who is typing.  The login name
		often is shortened to a unique prefix (possibly a
		single letter) during a very long conversation.
   At Stanford, where the link feature is implemented by "talk loops",
   the term TALK MODE is used in place of COM MODE.  Most of the above
   "sub-jargon" is used at both Stanford and MIT.

CONS [from LISP] 1. v. To add a new element to a list.  2. CONS UP:
   v. To synthesize from smaller pieces: "to cons up an example".

CRASH 1. n. A sudden, usually drastic failure.  Most often said of the
   system (q.v., definition #1), sometimes of magnetic disk drives.
   "Three lusers lost their files in last night's disk crash."  A disk
   crash which entails the read/write heads dropping onto the surface
   of the disks and scraping off the oxide may also be referred to as
   a "head crash".  2. v. To fail suddenly.  "Has the system just
   crashed?"  Also used transitively to indicate the cause of the
   crash (usually a person or a program, or both).  "Those idiots
   playing spacewar crashed the system."  Sometimes said of people.

CRETIN 1. n. Congenital loser (q.v.).  2. CRETINOUS: adj. See
   BLETCHEROUS and BAGBITING.  Usage: somewhat ad hominem.

CRLF (cur'lif, sometimes crul'lif) n. A carriage return (CR) followed
   by a line feed (LF).  See TERPRI.

CROCK n. An awkward feature or programming technique that ought to be
   made cleaner.  Example: Using small integers to represent error
   codes without the program interpreting them to the user is a crock.
   Also, a technique that works acceptably but which is quite prone to
   failure if disturbed in the least, for example depending on the
   machine opcodes having particular bit patterns so that you can use
   instructions as data words too; a tightly woven, almost completely
   unmodifiable structure.

CRUFTY [from "cruddy"] adj. 1. Poorly built, possibly overly complex.
   "This is standard old crufty DEC software".  Hence CRUFT, n. shoddy
   construction.  2. Unpleasant, especially to the touch, often with
   encrusted junk.  Like spilled coffee smeared with peanut butter and
   ketchup.  Hence CRUFT, n. disgusting mess.  3. Generally unpleasant.
   CRUFTY or CRUFTIE n. A small crufty object (see FROB); often one
   which doesn't fit well into the scheme of things.  "A LISP property
   list is a good place to store crufties (or, random cruft)."
   [Note: Does CRUFT have anything to do with the Cruft Lab at Harvard?
   I don't know, though I was a Harvard student. - GLS]

CRUNCH v. To process, usually in a time-consuming or complicated way.
   Connotes an essentially trivial operation which is nonetheless
   painful to perform.  The pain may be due to the triviality being
   imbedded in a loop from 1 to 1000000000.  "FORTRAN programs do
   mostly number crunching."

CTY (city) n. Any console terminal on a computer.

DIKE [from "diagonal cutters"] v. To remove a module or disable it.
   "When in doubt, dike it out."

DMP (dump)  See BIN.

DOWN 1. adj. Not working.  "The up escalator is down."  2. TAKE DOWN,
   BRING DOWN: v. To deactivate, usually for repair work.  See UP.

DPB (duh-pib') [from the PDP-10 instruction set] v. To plop something
   down in the middle.

ENGLISH n. The source code for a program, which may be in any
   language, as opposed to BINARY.  Usage: slightly obsolete, used
   mostly by old-time hackers, though recognizable in context.  At
   MIT, directory SYSENG is where the "English" for system programs is
   kept, and SYSBIN, the binaries.

EPSILON [from standard mathematical notation for a small quantity] 1.
   n. A small quantity of anything.  "The cost is epsilon."  2. adj.
   Very small, negligible; less than marginal.  "We can get this
   feature for epsilon cost."

EXCH (ex'chuh, ekstch) [from the PDP-10 instruction set] v. To
   exchange two things, each for the other.

EXCL (eks'cul) n. Abbreviation for "exclamation point".  See SEMI,

FAULTY n. Same denotation as "bagbiting", "bletcherous", "losing",
   q.v., but the connotation is much milder.

FEATURE n. 1. A surprising property of a program.  Occasionally docu-
   mented.  To call a property a feature sometimes means the author of
   the program did not consider the particular case, and the program
   makes an unexpected, although not strictly speaking an incorrect
   response.  See BUG.  "That's not a bug, that's a feature!"  A bug
   can be changed to a feature by documenting it.  2. A well-known and
   beloved property; a facility.  Sometimes features are planned, but
   are called crocks by others.  An approximately correct spectrum:

   (These terms are all used to describe programs or portions thereof,
   except for the first two, which are included for completeness.)
   (The last is never actually attained.)

FEEP 1. n. The soft bell of a display terminal (except for a VT-52!);
   a beep.  2. v. To cause the display to make a feep sound.  TTY's do
   not have feeps.  Alternate forms: BEEP, BLEEP, or just about
   anything suitably onomatopoeic.  The term BREEDLE is sometimes
   heard at SAIL, where the terminal bleepers are not particularly
   "soft" (they sound more like the musical equivalent of sticking out
   one's tongue).  The "feeper" on a VT-52 has been compared to the
   sound of a '52 Chevy stripping its gears.

FENCEPOST ERROR n. The discrete equivalent of a boundary condition.
   Often exhibited in programs by iterative loops.  From the following
   problem: "If you build a fence 100 feet long with posts ten feet
   apart, how many posts do you need?"  (Either 9 or 11 is a better
   answer than the obvious 10.)

FLAG DAY [from a bit of Multics history involving a change in the
   ASCII character set originally scheduled for June 14, 1966]
   n. A software change which is neither forward nor backward
   compatible, and which is costly to make and costly to revert.
   "Can we install that without causing a flag day for all users?"

FLAKEY adj. Subject to frequent lossages.  See LOSSAGE.

FLAME v. To speak incessantly and/or rabidly on some relatively
   uninteresting subject or with a patently ridiculous attitude.
   FLAME ON: v. To continue to flame.

FLAP v. To unload a DECtape (so it goes flap, flap, flap...).

FLAVOR n. 1. Variety, type, kind.  "DDT commands come in two flavors."
   2. The attribute of causing something to be FLAVORFUL.  "This
   convention yields additional flavor by allowing one to..."

FLAVORFUL adj. Aesthetically pleasing.  See RANDOM and LOSING for

FLUSH v. 1. To delete something, usually superfluous.  "All that
   nonsense has been flushed."  Standard ITS terminology for aborting
   an output operation.  2. To leave at the end of a day's work (as
   opposed to leaving for a meal).  "I'm going to flush now."  "Time
   to flush."

FOO 1. [from Yiddish "feh" or the Anglo-Saxon "fooey!"] interj. Term
   of disgust.  2. [from FUBAR (Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition),
   from WWII, often seen as FOOBAR] Name used for temporary programs,
   or samples of three-letter names.  Other similar words are BAR, BAZ
   (Stanford corruption of BAR), and rarely RAG.  These have been used
   in Pogo as well.  3. Used very generally as a sample name for
   absolutely anything.  The old `Smokey Stover' comic strips often
   included the word FOO, in particular on license plates of cars.

FROB 1. n. (MIT) The official Tech Model Railroad Club definition is
   "FROB = protruding arm or trunnion", and by metaphoric extension
   any somewhat small thing.  See FROBNITZ.  2. v. abbreviated form of

FROBNICATE v. To manipulate or adjust, to tweak.  Derived from
   FROBNITZ (q.v.).  Usually abbreviated to FROB.  Thus one has the
   saying "to frob a frob".

FROBNITZ, pl. FROBNITZEM (frob'nitsm) n. An unspecified physical
   object, a widget.  Also refers to electronic black boxes.  This
   rare form is usually abbreviated to FROTZ, or more commonly to

FROG (variant: PHROG) 1. interj. Term of disgust (we seem to have a
   lot of them).  2. Used as a name for just about anything.  See FOO.
   3. n. Of things, a crock.  Of people, somewhere inbetween a turkey
   and a toad.  4. FROGGY: adj. Similar to BAGBITING (q.v.), but
   milder.  "This froggy program is taking forever to run!"

FROTZ 1. n. See FROBNITZ.  2. MUMBLE FROTZ: An interjection of very
   mild disgust.

FTP (spelled out, NOT pronounced "fittip") 1. n. The File Transfer
   Protocol for transmitting files between systems on the ARPAnet.  2.
   v. To transfer a file using the File Transfer Program.  "Lemme get
   this copy of Wuthering Heights FTP'd from SAIL."

FUDGE 1. v. To perform in an incomplete but marginally acceptable way,
   particularly with respect to the writing of a program.  "I didn't
   feel like going through that pain and suffering, so I fudged it."
   2. n. The resulting code.

FUDGE FACTOR n. A value or parameter that is varied in an ad hoc way
   to produce the desired result.  The terms "tolerance" and "slop"
   are also used, though these usually indicate a one-sided leeway,
   such as a buffer which is made larger than necessary because one
   isn't sure exactly how large it needs to be, and it is better to
   waste a little space than to lose completely for not having enough.
   A fudge factor, on the other hand, can often be tweaked in more
   than one direction.  An example might be the coefficients of an
   equation, where the coefficients are varied in an attempt to make
   the equation fit certain criteria.


GC [from LISP terminology] 1. v. To clean up and throw away useless
   things.  "I think I'll GC the top of my desk today."  2. v. To
   recycle, reclaim, or put to another use.  3. n. An instantiation of
   the GC process.

GLASS TTY n. A terminal which has a display screen but which, because
   of hardware or software limitations, behaves like a teletype or
   other printing terminal.  An example is the ADM-3 (without cursor
   control).  A glass tty can't do neat display hacks, and you can't
   save the output either.

GLITCH [from the Yiddish "glitshen", to slide] 1. n. A sudden
   interruption in electric service, sanity, or program function.
   Sometimes recoverable.  2. v. To commit a glitch.

GLORK 1. interj. Term of mild surprise, usually tinged with outrage,
   as when one attempts to save the results of two hours of editing
   and finds that the system has just crashed.  2. Used as a name for
   just about anything.  See FOO.  3. v. Similar to GLITCH (q.v.), but
   usually used reflexively.  "My program just glorked itself."

GOBBLE v. To consume or to obtain.  GOBBLE UP tends to imply
   "consume", while GOBBLE DOWN tends to imply "obtain".  "The output
   spy gobbles characters out of a TTY output buffer."  "I guess I'll
   gobble down a copy of the documentation tomorrow."  See SNARF.

GRIND v. 1. (primarily MIT) To format code, especially LISP code, by
   indenting lines so that it looks pretty.  Hence, PRETTY PRINT, the
   generic term for such operations.  2. To run seemingly
   interminably, performing some tedious and inherently useless task.
   Similar to CRUNCH.


GROK [from the novel "Stranger in a Strange Land", by Robert Heinlein,
   where it is a Martian word meaning roughly "to be one with"] v. To
   understand, usually in a global sense.

GRONK [popularized by the cartoon strip "B.C." by Johnny Hart, but the
   word apparently predates that] v. 1. To clear the state of a wedged
   device and restart it.  More severe than "to frob" (q.v.).  2. To
   break.  "The teletype scanner was gronked, so we took the system
   down."  3. GRONK OUT: v. To cease functioning.  Of people, to go
   home and go to sleep.  "I guess I'll gronk out now; see you all

GROVEL v. To work interminably and without apparent progress.  Often
   used with "over".  "The compiler grovelled over my code."  Compare
   GRIND and CRUNCH.  Emphatic form: GROVEL OBSCENELY.

GRUNGY adj. Incredibly dirty or grubby.  Anything which has been
   washed within the last year is not really grungy.  Also used
   metaphorically; hence some programs (especially crocks) can be
   described as grungy.

HACK n. 1. Originally a quick job that produces what is needed, but
   not well.  2. The result of that job.  3. NEAT HACK: a clever
   technique.  Also, a brilliant practical joke, where neatness is
   correlated with cleverness, harmlessness, and surprise value.
   Example: the Caltech Rose Bowl card display switch circa 1961.
   4. REAL HACK: a crock (occasionally affectionate).
   v. 5. With "together", to throw something together so it will work.
   6. To bear emotionally or physically.  "I can't hack this heat!" 7.
   To work on something (typically a program).  In specific sense:
   "What are you doing?"  "I'm hacking TECO."  In general sense: "What
   do you do around here?"  "I hack TECO."  (The former is
   time-immediate, the latter time-extended.)  More generally, "I hack
   x" is roughly equivalent to "x is my bag".  "I hack solid-state
   physics."  8. HACK UP (ON): to hack, but generally implies that the
   result is meanings 1-2.  9. HACK VALUE: term used as the reason or
   motivation for expending effort toward a seemingly useless goal,
   the point being that the accomplished goal is a hack.  For example,
   MacLISP has code to read and print roman numerals, which was
   installed purely for hack value.
   HAPPY HACKING: a farewell.  HOW'S HACKING?: a friendly greeting
   among hackers.  HACK HACK: a somewhat pointless but friendly
   comment, often used as a temporary farewell.

HACKER [originally, someone who makes furniture with an axe] n. 1. A
   person who is good at programming quickly.  Not everything a hacker
   produces is a hack.  2. An expert at a particular program, example:
   "A SAIL hacker".  3. A malicious or inquisitive meddler who tries
   to discover information by poking around.  Hence "keyword hacker",
   "network hacker".

HACKISH adj. Being or involving a hack.  HACKISHNESS n.

HAIR n. The complications which make something hairy.  "Decoding TECO
   commands requires a certain amount of hair."  Often seen in the
   phrase INFINITE HAIR, which connotes extreme complexity.

HAIRY adj. 1. Overly complicated.  "DWIM is incredibly hairy."  2.
   Incomprehensible.  "DWIM is incredibly hairy."  3.  Of people,
   high-powered, authoritative, rare, expert, and/or incomprehensible.
   Hard to explain except in context: "He knows this hairy lawyer who
   says there's nothing to worry about."

HAKMEM n. MIT AI Memo 239 (February 1972).  A collection of neat
   mathematical and programming hacks contributed by many people
   at MIT and elsewhere.

HANDWAVE 1. v. To gloss over a complex point; to distract a listener;
   to support a (possibly actually valid) point with blatantly faulty
   logic.  2. n. The act of handwaving.  "Boy, what a handwave!"  The
   use of this word is often accompanied by gestures: both hands up,
   palms forward, swinging the hands in a vertical plane pivoting at
   the elbows and/or shoulders (depending on the magnitude of the
   handwave); alternatively, holding the forearms still while rotating
   the hands at the wrist to make them flutter.  In context, the
   gestures alone can suffice as a remark.

HARDWARILY adv. In a way pertaining to hardware.  "The system is
   hardwarily unreliable."  The adjective "hardwary" is NOT used.  See

HIRSUTE  Occasionally used humorously as a synonym for HAIRY.


HUNGUS (hung'-ghis) [perhaps related to current slang "humongous";
   which one came first (if either) is unclear] adj. Large, unwieldy,
   usually unmanageable.  "TCP is a hungus piece of code."  "This is a
   hungus set of modifications."


INFINITE adj. Consisting of a large number of objects; extreme.  Used
   very loosely as in: "This program produces infinite garbage."

JFCL (djif'kl or djafik'l) [based on the PDP-10 instruction that acts
   as a fast no-op] v. To cancel or annul something.  "Why don't you
   jfcl that out?"
   [Notes: Once at the Museum of Science parking lot I saw a Vermont
   license plate JFCL.  I wonder who owns it? - GLS.  California JFCL
   plate is on Geoff Goodfellow's grey-beige 450SL Mercedes. - RF]

JIFFY n. 1. Interval of CPU time, commonly 1/60 second or 1
   millisecond.  2. Indeterminate time from a few seconds to forever.
   "I'll do it in a jiffy" means certainly not now and possibly never.

JOCK n. Programmer who is characterized by large and somewhat brute
   force programs.  The term is particularly well-suited for systems

JRST (jerst) [based on the PDP-10 jump instruction] v. To suddenly
   change subjects.  Usage: rather rare.  "Jack be nimble, Jack be
   quick; Jack jrst over the candle stick."

KLUGE (kloodj) alt. KLUDGE [from the German "kluge", clever] n. 1. A
   Rube Goldberg device in hardware or software.  2. A clever
   programming trick intended to solve a particular nasty case in an
   efficient, if not clear, manner.  Often used to repair bugs.  Often
   verges on being a crock.  3. Something that works for the wrong
   reason.  4. v. To insert a kluge into a program.  "I've kluged this
   routine to get around that weird bug, but there's probably a better

LDB (lid'dib) [from the PDP-10 instruction set] v. To extract from the

LIFE n. A cellular-automata game invented by John Horton Conway, and
   first introduced publicly by Martin Gardner (Scientific American,
   October 1970).


LOSE [from MIT jargon] v. 1. To fail.  A program loses when it
   encounters an exceptional condition.  2. To be exceptionally
   unaesthetic.  3. Of people, to be obnoxious or unusually stupid (as
   opposed to ignorant).  4. DESERVE TO LOSE: v. Said of someone who
   willfully does the wrong thing; humorously, if one uses a feature
   known to be marginal.  What is meant is that one deserves the
   consequences of one's losing actions.  "Boy, anyone who tries to
   use MULTICS deserves to lose!"
   LOSE LOSE - a reply or comment on a situation.

LOSER n. An unexpectedly bad situation, program, programmer, or
   person.  Especially "real loser".

LOSS n. Something which loses.  WHAT A (MOBY) LOSS!: interjection.

LOSSAGE n. The result of a bug or malfunction.

LPT (lip'-it) n. Line printer, of course.

MACROTAPE n. An industry standard reel of tape, as opposed to a

MAGIC adj. As yet unexplained, or too complicated to explain.  (Arthur
   C. Clarke once said that magic was as-yet-not-understood science.)
   "TTY echoing is controlled by a large number of magic bits."  "This
   routine magically computes the parity of an eight-bit byte in three

MARGINAL adj. 1. Extremely small.  2. Of extremely small merit.  3.
   Of extremely small probability of winning.  "A marginal increase in
   core can decrease GC time drastically."  "This proposed new feature
   seems rather marginal to me."  "The power supply was rather
   marginal anyway; no wonder it crapped out."  4. MARGINALLY: adv.
   Slightly.  "The ravs here are only marginally better than at Small
   Eating Place."

MICROTAPE n. Occasionally used to mean a DECtape, as opposed to a

MISFEATURE n. A feature which eventually screws someone, possibly
   because it is not adequate for a new situation which has evolved.
   It is not the same as a bug because fixing it involve a gross
   philosophical change to the structure of the system involved.
   Often a former feature becomes a misfeature because a tradeoff was
   made whose parameters subsequently changed (possibly only in the
   judgement of the implementors).  "Well, yeah, it's kind of a
   misfeature that file names are limited to six characters, but we're
   stuck with it for now."

MOBY [Seems to have been in use among model railroad fans years ago.
   Entered the world of AI with the Fabritek 256K moby memory of
   MIT-AI.  Derived from Melville's "Moby Dick" (some say from "Moby
   Pickle").] 1. adj. Large, immense, or complex.  "A moby frob."  2.
   n. The maximum address space of a machine, hence 3. n. 256K words,
   the size of a PDP-10 moby.  (The maximum address space means the
   maximum normally addressable space, as opposed to the amount of
   physical memory a machine can have.  Thus the MIT PDP-10s each have
   two mobies, usually referred to as the "low moby" (0-777777) and
   "high moby" (1000000-1777777), or as "moby 0" and "moby 1".  MIT-AI
   has four mobies of address space: moby 2 is the PDP-6 memory, and
   moby 3 the PDP-11 interface.)  In this sense "moby" is often used
   as a generic unit of either address space (18. bits' worth) or of
   memory (about a megabyte, or 9/8 megabyte (if one accounts for
   difference between 32.- and 36.-bit words), or 5/4 megacharacters).
   4. A title of address (never of third-person reference), usually
   used to show admiration, respect, and/or friendliness to a
   competent hacker.  "So, moby Knight, how's the CONS machine doing?"
   MOBY FOO, MOBY WIN, MOBY LOSS: standard emphatic forms.
   FOBY MOO: a spoonerism due to Greenblatt.

MODULO prep. Except for.  From mathematical terminology: one can
   consider saying that 4=22 "except for the 9's" (4=22 mod 9).
   "Well, LISP seems to work okay now, modulo that GC bug."

MUMBLE interj. 1. Said when the correct response is either too
   complicated to enunciate or the speaker has not thought it out.
   Often prefaces a longer answer, or indicates a general reluctance
   to get into a big long discussion.  "Well, mumble."  2. Sometimes
   used as an expression of disagreement.  "I think we should buy it."
   "Mumble!"  Common variant: MUMBLE FROTZ.

MUNCH (often confused with "mung", q.v.) v. To transform information
   in a serial fashion, often requiring large amounts of computation.
   To trace down a data structure.  Related to CRUNCH (q.v.), but
   connotes less pain.

MUNCHING SQUARES n. A display hack dating back to the PDP-1, which
   employs a trivial computation (involving XOR'ing of x-y display
   coordinates - see HAKMEM items 146-148) to produce an impressive
   display of moving, growing, and shrinking squares.  The hack
   usually has a parameter (usually taken from toggle switches) which
   when well-chosen can produce amazing effects.  Some of these,
   discovered recently on the LISP machine, have been christened

MUNG (variant: MUNGE) [recursive acronym for Mung Until No Good] v. 1.
   To make changes to a file, often large-scale, usually irrevocable.
   Occasionally accidental.  See BLT.  2. To destroy, usually
   accidentally, occasionally maliciously.  The system only mungs
   things maliciously.

N adj. 1. Some large and indeterminate number of objects; "There were
   N bugs in that crock!"; also used in its original sense of a
   variable name.  2. An arbitrarily large (and perhaps infinite)
   number.  3. A variable whose value is specified by the current
   context.  "We'd like to order N wonton soups and a family dinner
   for N-1."  NTH adj. The ordinal counterpart of N. "Now for the Nth
   and last time..."  In the specific context "Nth-year grad student",
   N is generally assumed to be at least 4, and is usually 5 or more.

NIGHT MODE  See PHASE (of people).

NIL [from LISP terminology for "false"] No.  Usage: used in reply to a
   question, particularly one asked using the "-P" convention.  See T.

OBSCURE adj. Used in an exaggeration of its normal meaning, to imply a
   total lack of comprehensibility.  "The reason for that last crash is
   obscure."  "FIND's command syntax is obscure."  MODERATELY OBSCURE
   implies that it could be figured out but probably isn't worth the

OPEN n. Abbreviation for "open (or left) parenthesis", used when
   necessary to eliminate oral ambiguity.  To read aloud the LISP form
   (DEFUN FOO (X) (PLUS X 1)) one might say: "Open def-fun foo, open
   eks close, open, plus ekx one, close close."  See CLOSE.

PARSE [from linguistic terminology] v. 1. To determine the syntactic
   structure of a sentence or other utterance (close to the standard
   English meaning).  Example: "That was the one I saw you."  "I can't
   parse that."  2. More generally, to understand or comprehend.
   "It's very simple; you just kretch the glims and then aos the
   zotz."  "I can't parse that."  3. Of fish, to have to remove the
   bones yourself (usually at a Chinese restaurant).  "I object to
   parsing fish" means "I don't want to get a whole fish, but a sliced
   one is okay."  A "parsed fish" has been deboned.  There is some
   controversy over whether "unparsed" should mean "bony", or also
   mean "deboned".

PATCH 1. n. A temporary addition to a piece of code, usually as a
   quick-and-dirty remedy to an existing bug or misfeature.  A patch
   may or may not work, and may or may not eventually be incorporated
   permanently into the program.  2. v. To insert a patch into a piece
   of code.

PDL (piddle or puddle) [acronym for Push Down List] n. 1. A LIFO queue
   (stack); more loosely, any priority queue; even more loosely, any
   queue.  A person's pdl is the set of things he has to do in the
   future.  One speaks of the next project to be attacked as having
   risen to the top of the pdl.  "I'm afraid I've got real work to do,
   so this'll have to be pushed way down on my pdl."  See PUSH and
   POP.  2. Dave Lebling (PDL@DM).

PHASE (of people) n. The phase of one's waking-sleeping schedule with
   respect to the standard 24-hour cycle.  This is a useful concept
   among people who often work at night according to no fixed
   schedule.  It is not uncommon to change one's phase by as much as
   six hours/day on a regular basis.  "What's your phase?"  "I've been
   getting in about 8 PM lately, but I'm going to work around to the
   day schedule by Friday."  A person who is roughly 12 hours out of
   phase is sometimes said to be in "night mode".  (The term "day
   mode" is also used, but less frequently.)

PHASE OF THE MOON n. Used humorously as a random parameter on which
   something is said to depend.  Sometimes implies unreliability of
   whatever is dependent.  "This feature depends on having the channel
   open in mumble mode, having the foo switch set, and on the phase of
   the moon."

POP [based on the stack operation that removes the top of a stack, and
   the fact that procedure return addresses are saved on the stack]
   dialect: POPJ (pop-jay), based on the PDP-10 procedure return
   instruction.  v. To return from a digression.

PTY (pity) n. Pseudo TTY, a simulated TTY used to run a job under the
   supervision of another job.
   PTYJOB (pity-job) n. The job being run on the PTY.  Also a common
   general-purpose program for creating and using PTYs.
   This is DEC and SAIL terminology; the MIT equivalent is STY.

PUNT [from the punch line of an old joke: "Drop back 15 yards and
   punt"] v. To give up, typically without any intention of retrying.

PUSH [based on the stack operation that puts the current information
   on a stack, and the fact that procedure call addresses are saved on
   the stack] dialect: PUSHJ (push-jay), based on the PDP-10 procedure
   call instruction.  v. To enter upon a digression, to save the
   current discussion for later.

QUUX [Invented by Steele.  Mythically, from the Latin semi-deponent
   verb QUUXO, QUUXARE, QUUXANDUM IRI; noun form variously QUUX
   (plural QUUCES, Anglicized to QUUXES) and QUUXU (genitive plural is
   QUUXUUM, four U's in seven letters).] 1. Originally, a meta-word
   like FOO and FOOBAR.  Invented by Steele for precisely this
   purpose.  2. interj. See FOO; however, denotes very little disgust,
   and is uttered mostly for the sake of the sound of it.  3. n.
   Refers to one of three people who went to Boston Latin School and
   eventually to MIT:
	THE GREAT QUUX:  Guy L. Steele Jr.
	THE LESSER QUUX:  David J. Littleboy
   (This taxonomy is said to be similarly applied to three Frankston
   brothers at MIT.)  QUUX, QUUX, without qualification, usually
   refers to The Great Quux, who is somewhat infamous for light verse
   and for the "Crunchly" cartoons.  4. QUUXY: adj. Of or pertaining
   to a QUUX.

RANDOM adj. 1. Unpredictable (closest to mathematical definition);
   weird.  "The system's been behaving pretty randomly."  2. Assorted;
   undistinguished.  "Who was at the conference?"  "Just a bunch of
   random business types."  3.  Frivolous; unproductive; undirected
   (pejorative).  "He's just a random loser."  4. Incoherent or
   inelegant; not well organized.  "The program has a random set of
   misfeatures."  "That's a random name for that function."  "Well,
   all the names were chosen pretty randomly."  5. In no particular
   order, though deterministic.  "The I/O channels are in a pool, and
   when a file is opened one is chosen randomly."  n. 6. A random
   hacker; used particularly of high school students who soak up
   computer time and generally get in the way.  7. (Occasional MIT
   usage) One who lives at Random Hall.

RANDOMNESS n. An unexplainable misfeature; gratuitous inelegance.
   Also, a hack or crock which depends on a complex combination
   of coincidences (or rather, the combination upon which the
   crock depends).  "This hack can output characters 40-57 by
   putting the character in the accumulator field of an XCT and
   then extracting 6 bits -- the low two bits of the XCT opcode
   are the right thing."  "What randomness!"

REAL WORLD, THE n. 1. In programming, those institutions at which
   programming may be used in the same sentence as FORTRAN, COBOL,
   RPG, IBM, etc.  2. To programmers, the location of non-programmers
   and activities not related to programming.  3. A universe in which
   the standard dress is shirt and tie and in which a person's working
   hours are defined as 9 to 5.  4. The location of the status quo.
   "Poor fellow, he's left MIT and gone into the real world."  Used
   pejoratively by those not in residence there.  In conversation,
   talking of someone who has entered the real world is not unlike
   talking about a deceased person.

SACRED adj. Reserved for the exclusive use of something (a
   metaphorical extension of the standard meaning).  "Accumulator 7 is
   sacred to the UUO handler."  Often means that anyone may look at
   the sacred object, but clobbering it will screw whatever it is
   sacred to.

SEMI 1. n. Abbreviation for "semicolon", when speaking.  "Commands to
   GRIND are prefixed by semi-semi-star" means that the prefix is
   ";;*", not 1/4 of a star.  2. Prefix with words such as
   "immediately", as a qualifier.  "When is the system coming up?"

69 adj. Large quantity.  Usage: Exclusive to MIT-AI.  "Go away, I have
   69 things to do to DDT before worrying about fixing the bug in the
   phase of the moon output routine..."
   [Note: Actually, any number less than 100 but large enough to have
   no obvious magic properties will be recognized as a "large number".
   There is no denying that "69" is the local favorite.  I don't know
   whether its origins are related to the obscene interpretation, but
   I do know that 69 decimal = 105 octal, and 69 hexadecimal = 105
   decimal, which is a nice property. - GLS]

SLOP n. 1. A one-sided fudge factor (q.v.).  Often introduced to avoid
   the possibility of a fencepost error (q.v.).  2. (Used by compiler
   freaks) The ratio of code generated by a compiler to hand-compiled
   code, minus 1; i.e. the space (or maybe time) you lose because you
   didn't do it yourself.

SLURP v. To read a large data file entirely into core before working
   on it.  "This program slurps in a 1K-by-1K matrix and does an FFT."

SNARF v. To grab, esp. a large document or file for the purpose of
   using it either with or without the author's permission.  See BLT.
   Variant: SNARF (IT) DOWN.  (At MIT on ITS, DDT has a command called
   :SNARF which grabs a job from another (inferior) DDT.)

SOFTWARE ROT n. Hypothetical disease the existence of which has been
   deduced from the observation that unused programs or features will
   stop working after sufficient time has passed, even if "nothing has
   changed".  Also known as "bit decay".

SOFTWARILY adv. In a way pertaining to software.  "The system is
   softwarily unreliable."  The adjective "softwary" is NOT used.  See

SOS 1. n. A losing editor, SON OF STOPGAP.  2. v. Inverse of AOS, from
   the PDP-10 instruction set.

SPAZZ 1. v. To behave spastically or erratically; more often, to
   commit a single gross error.  "Boy, is he spazzing!"  2. n. One who
   spazzes.  "Boy, what a spazz!"  3. n. The result of spazzing.
   "Boy, what a spazz!"

STATE n. Condition, situation.  "What's the state of NEWIO?"  "It's
   winning away."  "What's your state?"  "I'm about to gronk out."  As
   a special case, "What's the state of the world?" (or, more silly,
   "State-of-world-P?") means "What's new?" or "What's going on?"

STOPPAGE n. Extreme lossage (see LOSSAGE) resulting in something
   (usually vital) becoming completely unusable.

STY (pronounced "sty", not spelled out) n. A pseudo-teletype, which is
   a two-way pipeline with a job on one end and a fake keyboard-tty
   on the other.  Also, a standard program which provides a pipeline
   from its controlling tty to a pseudo-teletype (and thence to another
   tty, thereby providing a "sub-tty").
   This is MIT terminology; the SAIL and DEC equivalent is PTY.

SUPERPROGRAMMER n. See "wizard", "hacker".  Usage: rare.  (Becoming
   more common among IBM and Yourdon types.)

SWAPPED v. From the use of secondary storage devices to implement
   virtual memory in computer systems.  Something which is SWAPPED IN
   is available for immediate use in main memory, and otherwise is
   SWAPPED OUT.  Often used metaphorically to refer to people's
   memories: "I read TECO ORDER every few months to keep the
   information swapped in."

SYSTEM n. 1. The supervisor program on the computer.  2. Any
   large-scale program.  3. Any method or algorithm.  4. The way
   things are usually done.  Usage: a fairly ambiguous word.  "You
   can't beat the system."
   SYSTEM HACKER: one who hacks the system (in sense 1 only; for sense
   2 one mentions the particular program: e.g., LISP HACKER)

T [from LISP terminology for "true"] Yes.  Usage: used in reply to a
   question, particularly one asked using the "-P" convention).  See


TECO (tee'koe) [acronym for Text Editor and COrrector] 1. n. A text
   editor developed at MIT, and modified by just about everybody.  If
   all the dialects are included, TECO might well be the single most
   prolific editor in use.  Noted for its powerful pseudo-programming
   features and its incredibly hairy syntax.  2. v. To edit using the
   TECO editor in one of its infinite forms; sometimes used to mean
   "to edit" even when not using TECO!  Usage: rare at SAIL, where
   most people wouldn't touch TECO with a TENEX pole.
   [Historical note: DEC grabbed an ancient version of MIT TECO many
   years ago when it was still a TTY-oriented editor.  By now, TECO at
   MIT is highly display-oriented and is actually a language for
   writing editors, rather than an editor.  Meanwhile, the outside
   world's various versions of TECO remain almost the same as the MIT
   version of ten years ago.  DEC recently tried to discourage its
   use, but an underground movement of sorts kept it alive.]

TELNET v. To communicate with another ARPAnet host using the TELNET
   program.  TOPS-10 people use the word IMPCOM since that is the
   program name for them.  Sometimes abbreviated to TN.  "I usually TN
   over to SAIL just to read the AP News."

TERPRI (tur'pree) [from the LISP 1.5 (and later, MacLISP) function to
   start a new line of output] To output a CRLF (q.v.).

THEORY n. Used in the general sense of idea, plan, story, or set of
   rules.  "What's the theory on fixing this TECO loss?"  "What's the
   theory on dinner tonight?"  ("Chinatown, I guess.")  "What's the
   current theory on letting losers on during the day?"  "The theory
   behind this change is to fix the following well-known screw..."

THRASH v. To move wildly or violently.  Swapping systems which are
   overloaded spend much of their time moving pages into and out of
   core, and are therefore said to thrash.

TICK n. Interval of time; basic clock time on the computer.  Typically
   1/60 second.  See JIFFY.

TRAP 1. n. A program interrupt, usually used specifically to refer to
   an interrupt caused by some illegal action taking place in the user
   program.  In most cases the system monitor performs some action
   related to the nature of the illegality, then returns control to
   the program.  See UUO.  2. v. To cause a trap.  "These instructions
   trap to the monitor."  Also used transitively to indicate the cause
   of the trap.  "The monitor traps all input/output instructions."

TTY (titty) n. Terminal of the teletype variety, characterized by a
   noisy mechanical printer, a very limited character set, and poor
   print quality.  Usage: antiquated (like the TTY's themselves).
   Sometimes used to refer to any terminal at all; sometimes used
   to refer to the particular terminal controlling a job.

TWEAK v. To change slightly, usually in reference to a value.  Also
   used synonymously with TWIDDLE.  See FUDGE FACTOR.

TWENEX n. The TOPS-20 operating system by DEC.  So named because
   TOPS-10 was a typically crufty DEC operating system for the PDP-10.
   BBN developed their own system, called TENEX (TEN EXecutive), and
   in creating TOPS-20 for the DEC-20 DEC copied TENEX and adapted it
   for the 20.  Usage: DEC people cringe when they hear TOPS-20
   referred to as "Twenex", but the term seems to catching on

TWIDDLE 1. n. A small and insignificant change to a program.  Usually
   fixes one bug and generates several new ones.  2. v. To change
   something in a small way.  Bits, for example, are often twiddled.
   Twiddling a switch implies much less sense of purpose than toggling
   it; see FROB (v.).

UP adj. 1. Working, in order.  "The down escalator is up."  2. BRING
   UP: v. To create a working version and start it.  "They brought up
   a down system."

USER n. A programmer who will believe anything you tell him.  One who
   asks questions.  Identified at MIT with "loser" by the spelling
   [Note by GLS @ MIT: I don't agree with RF's definition at all.
   Basically, there are two classes of people who work with a program:
   there are implementors (hackers) and users (losers).  The users are
   looked down on by hackers to a mild degree because they don't
   understand the full ramifications of the system in all its glory.
   (A few users who do are known as real winners.)  It is true that
   users ask questions (of necessity).  Very often they are annoying
   or downright stupid.]

UUO (you-you-oh) [short for "Un-Used Operation"] n. A DEC-10 system
   monitor call.  The term "Un-Used Operation" comes from the fact
   that, on DEC-10 systems, monitor calls are implemented as invalid
   or illegal machine instructions, which cause traps to the monitor
   (see TRAP).  The SAIL manual describing the available UUO's has a
   cover picture showing an unidentified underwater object.  See YOYO.
   [Note: DEC sales people have since decided that "Un-Used Operation"
   sounds bad, so UUO now stands for "Unimplemented User Operation".]

VANILLA adj. Ordinary flavor, standard.  See FLAVOR.

VIRGIN adj. Unused, in reference to an instantiation of a program.
   "Let's bring up a virgin system and see if it crashes again."
   Also, by extension, unused buffers and the like within a program.

WALDO [probably taken from the story "Waldo", by Heinlein, which is
   where the term was first used to mean a mechanical adjunct to a
   human limb] Used at Harvard, particularly by Tom Cheatham and
   students, instead of FOOBAR as a meta-syntactic variable and
   general nonsense word.  See FOO, BAR, FOOBAR, QUUX.

WEDGED [from "head wedged up ass"] adj. To be in a locked state,
   incapable of proceeding without help.  (See GRONK.)  Often refers
   to humans suffering misconceptions.  "The swapper is wedged."

WIN [from MIT jargon] 1. v. To succeed.  A program wins if no
   unexpected conditions arise.  2. BIG WIN: n. Serendipity.
   Emphatic forms: MOBY WIN, SUPER WIN, HYPER-WIN (often used
   interjectively as a reply).  For some reason SUITABLE WIN is also
   common at MIT, usually in reference to a satisfactory solution to a
   problem.  See LOSE.

WINNAGE n. The situation when a lossage is corrected, or when
   something is winning.  Quite rare.  Usage: also quite rare.

WINNER 1. n. An unexpectedly good situation, program, programmer or
   person.  2. REAL WINNER: often sarcastic, but also used as high

WINNITUDE n. The quality of winning (as opposed to WINNAGE, which is
   the result of winning).  "That's really great!  Boy, what

WIZARD n. A person who knows how a complex piece of software or
   hardware works; someone who can find and fix his bugs in an
   emergency.  Rarely used at MIT, where HACKER is the preferred term.

WORMHOLE n. A location in a monitor which contains the address of a
   routine, with the specific intent of making it easy to substitute a
   different routine.  The following quote comes from "Polymorphic
   Systems", vol. 2, p. 54:

   "Any type of I/O device can be substituted for the standard device
   by loading a simple driver routine for that device and installing
   its address in one of the monitor's `wormholes.'*
   *The term `wormhole' has been used to describe a hypothetical
   astronomical situation where a black hole connects to the `other
   side' of the universe.  When this happens, information can pass
   through the wormhole, in only one direction, much as `assumptions'
   pass down the monitor's wormholes."

XGP 1. n. Xerox Graphics Printer.  2. v. To print something on the
   XGP.  "You shouldn't XGP such a large file."

YOYO n. DEC service engineers' slang for UUO (q.v.).  Usage: rare at
   SAIL and MIT, has been found at random DEC installations.

YOYO MODE n. State in which the system is said to be when it rapidly
   alternates several times between being up and being down.