Some Internet & Computer Slang Terms You Might Not Know
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Some Internet & Computer Slang Terms You Might Not Know

A list of some obscure computer slang terms used to describe various situations that computer and internet users might encounter.


An on-line reference to any 'Systems Personnel' such as 'site administrator/host'. In other slang, this can include "SysOp, postmaster" and the uncomplimentary flame "System Mangler", a corruption of the respectful title of "System Manager" and (to)"mangle", someone with the ability to truly mishandle the situation.

The word appears at first glance to be the contraction of "Administration" and "trivia", meaning possibly that what they do is small and diminutive in the eyes of those waiting for a response from them regarding some current complaint or grievance. One might use similar terms of "bean counters" or "paper-shufflers" as other members of this classe of white-collar intelligensia.


This is a minimum or very-low paying menial job with little or no benefits, no prospects for future growth and deemed to be a position of low personal self-esteem. It is viewed as somewhat of a 'last resort' interim job for someone accustomed to the higher paying/benefit-laden career.

If someone made a severe error of judgment in the workplace, action or even inaction (see "CLM"), they might be temporarily forced into having to work at a "McJob" just to pay the bills. Working for McDonald's is respectable work, don't get me wrong. It is like those very nice, elderly people working at Wal-Mart as the 'Greeter' when you come in. It's making a living, it helps to pay the bills but it is menial at best.

McJobs have been the faire of many college students starting out. But later on in life and esp. after one is trained for a higher position, working a 'McJob' can be viewed to be insultive. Especially true after a demotion, having lost or having been fired from a better job, or if due to insufficient education you can't get anything better.

Mickey Mouse:

Something unsophisticated. Such as a "Mickey Mouse script", a small bit of computer code that isn't difficult to write or implement. Something diminutive in it's functionality or reason for being.

Bait & switch:

A common tactic used by internet advertisers, they 'bait' you with some offer or product that titillates your interest so that you follow their link but it takes you somewhere other than where the image or link suggests. It 'switches' (redirects) your browser to some other destination with ulterior motives, sometimes with a PPV (pay-per-visit) monetization for them.

For example, you see a pop-up ad that touts a low-cost car rental on your next vacation. -Sounds great, yes? So you click on the ad and are instead directed not to a neat promotion from a car-rental place seeking to make your acquaintance, but to the private banking institution and you are prompted and encouraged to apply for their low-interest 'secured' credit card that they are offering. Then you could use that 'low interest credit card' to reserve your 'low-cost' rental car as a cardholder perk. And of course, the bank benefits as it's their card you are using. It is considered to be illegitimate and 'black hat' to run such 'bait & switch' ads.


A "Career Limiting Move". Such as becoming irritated at your boss or superior and calling him/her 'a real Dilbert' for instance, and if s/he gets the meaning, likely YOU won't be getting the expected raise or promotion or juicy contract that you want. This could also be used in conjunction to, by example, a software firm that discovers a major flaw in their coding of their product after it has been released for sale to the public or to the paying client. Whomever allowed this error to 'slip by' might have just made a 'CLM' whereby s/he might find themselves soon be searching for a 'McJob'!

Catch 22:

This is supposedly an expression that has been used in the military with rather exceptional regularity . Basically, it is an immutable, unbreakable, absolute rule that can never be broken, -but wouldn't you know it, -there's always 'the exception to the rule'. Something that absolutely cannot and will not occur, -but it will.

Some examples from greater minds of philosophy and science have cited a 'catch 22' for the reason that time-travel is not possible. If one were to travel back in time and alter circumstances either intentionally or through accident or negligence that prevent their parents from meeting, s/he'd never be conceived/born, ergo, you'd not be in the first instance and you'd not be able to escape back through time to cause this.

Dilbert Principle:

I have found no direct citing of this term other than the comic strip character "Dilbert", and the book "The Dilbert Principle" (HarperCollins, ISBN 0-887-30787-6). "Dilbert" is the archetypical nerdy computer-savvy white-collar worker in a no-names-used hi-tech firm. The comic often pokes fun at the administrivia of big business, citing personal shortcomings or weaknesses or lack of what most people would call 'common sense'. I find some of these cartoons as proof of what late comedian Jerry Clower cited about some people being '...educated beyond their intelligence'.

"Dilbert" comics are said to be a favorite of 'hacker-type' people supposedly because nearly every comic can find a corollary somewhere to something that really did occur in the high-tech upper echelon ranks.

Fishing Expedition:

In computer-speak, "FISH" has stood for "First In, Still Here". This could suggest that finding what you are looking for in the expanses of computer learning, it takes time. "Fishing Expedition" might mean long, tedious searching the internet databases or searching for specific strings on a Server for specific information, and it will take some time. It could be used as a marketing-research too, to see what the customer/client would like to see.

Pollsters do "Fishing Expeditions" to determine random and often undefined customer/consumer trends. They can poll the public for their views on current topics, lifestyles, personal opinions or products in the name of market research.

Iceberg principle:

"10% visible on the surface, 90% not visible". This "Iceberg Principle" is a psychological term citing that human behavior is like an iceberg, with the greatest portion of it hidden below the surface. Advertisers can use this to tap into the heretofore unrealized and less apparent desires of potential wants & needs of customers.

Any computer-program error can also be related to 'the iceberg principle' too. A small problem that seems only slightlly annoying such as inability to post comments 'the first time' but requiring several attempts before it 'accepts' might be a symptom of a larger, heretofore un-realized potential for bigger problems later on.


Members of the 'anti-technology' movement in England in the last century. They maintained that "Technology is never neutral, and some (technology) is harmful". It's followers might be known as an early precursor to modern-day Organized Labor Unions, the Luddites would use "collective bargaining by riot" to a means to attain their desired ends.

Modern Unions by contrast, are only legally permitted to "Strike" (refuse to work) against their workplace when fruitful negotiations have failed. They can peaceably picket in front of the workplace publicly to aire and make known their dissatisfaction with current labor practice(s) or pay/benefits, etc.

The name "Luddites" comes from "King Ludd" whom protested and organized against modernization and mechanization of the textile industry in England between 1811-1816. When England marshaled against them, many of this movement were arrested and either exiled or deported to Australia, which served mother England as a large penal colony of the period.

Paradigm shift:

The changing manner in which education is being treated. No longer just 'teaching the facts', today's learning is 'educating how to learn'. Reading and memorizing 'the facts' often is not as correct as learning the ever-changing 'factual truths' as they become known. When I was in school, our textbooks for instance, dictated that planet Jupiter had so-and-so many moons. I believe that it was eleven moons at the time. Currently, with the number of newly-discovered moons has risen the total of something like twenty-three moons (including 'captured asteroids') and surely that number will continue to increase. -No answer will be definitive as the facts continue to change.

With today's shift in technological resources for news and learning, the 'factual data' continues to change. "Internet and Distance Education" is a good example of the 'shift' from traditional learning from one that 'teaches just facts' but teaches that 'education continues'.

Sacred cow:

A main product such as software. It's what makes Amos Famous ("Famous Amos" is a brand of cookie, -it's what they do and they do it well).

In Microsoft Corp., their "WINDOWS"-based OS (Operating System) browser and platform which over the years has evolved (WIN_3.1, WIN_95, WIN_98, WIN_ME, WIN_XP, etc.), might be called their "sacred cow" even though they do create other software. This is their bread-and-butter. They spend a great deal for time upgrading and improving their 'main product', thus ensuring it's longevity, functionality and long-term profitability and in their hopes, locking-in customer loyalty.


Unsolicited, unwanted "junk" e-mail containing little or no useful information. 'Spam mail' clogs Servers with multi-posting of lengthy and generally useless information or requests for information, slowing internet traffic. Almost always it is considered to be 'nuisance' but it can be 'malicious' with ill-will intended.

"Spam" (unsolicited e-mail) supposedly got it name from a "Monty Python's Flying Circus" skit (old Brit tv skit-comedy troupe and TV comedy show), whereby a bunch of drunken Vikings in a tavern are singing "SPAM!, SPAM!, SPAM! SPAM! SPAM!(etc)" in concert and growing crescendo, slowly drown-out the voices of every other person in the tavern.

"Spamming" does something similar, it 'drowns-out' the internet with annoying volumes of useless bandwidth consumption, causing slow data-transfer and in some extreme cases, a DoS (Denial of Service) situation. Someone noticed the similarity and coined the phrase "spam e-mail" which entered common usage shortly thereafter.

Hormel Meat Products Inc. in the product's webpage (yes, they have a website just for "SPAM") does not mind or take exception with the use of the word "spam" to cite 'junk internet e-mail' so long as it is spelled in lower-case letters.

Their canned spiced ham product "SPAM" is trademarked with it's capitalized letters. It gets it's distinctive name from the contraction of the two words "SPiced hAM". So, the expression and use of "spamming" is allowed, but "SPAMming" might be offensive to Hormel Inc.

Hormel ran some ads poking lighthearted fun at how some fictitious middle-class suburbia SPAM-zealots use their quintessential product "SPAM" canned ham. Their strategy is light and humorous. They seek only to make us laugh with them. They still take their canned ham product quite seriously and probably would defend it in court, if challenged to do so. "SPAM" is one of their major products and could be said to be a 'sacred cow' of the Hormel Meat Products Company.

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Comments (13)

Good tips for people, some were simple, others more in depth for the more advanced user.

I know quite a bit about computers, but I did learn more from this article. Thanks for sharing.

Nice collection of terms, some were new to me.

A good glossary of terms, Stickman, although most of them predate the Internet and the computer as we know them today.

Yes, "fishing expedition" became "phishing" later on, etc. Several of these terms are going back into the 80s and seldom used these days (but they do come up in certain circles)

Interesting. I've only heard about half of these, thanks. Voted.

this was great thank you

Interesting glossary. I especially liked reading about the McJob and the CLM.

Good Job - Shared

Excellent work . . .

Thanks for sharing. Some of the information are new to me.

Nice post!

Enriching and educative! I must confess that most of the info here are news to me. Good share.