computer bug word origin

Word origins can be fascinating. A computer “bug”

is an error, flaw, failure or fault in a computer program or system that causes it to produce an incorrect or unexpected result, or to behave in unintended ways.

What do you think? Why do we say, “computer bug” and not computing error? Although, you will hear technical people saying, “software error”.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary team:

The story goes that one of the early electromechanical computers suffered a failure because an insect had crawled into the machine and been squashed between the moving parts of a relay switch, thereby jamming it. The incident was written up in the logbook and spread from there throughout the whole of the infant computer industry. However, although the account seems to be genuine, the word is older: the event was recorded as an amusement for posterity precisely because the term ‘bug’ was already in use.

While it’s disappointing that the story isn’t true… the origins of this word are still interesting. Follow this link to learn the truth!

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Who is Emma?

Emma Parfitt Editing Proofreading

Emma is a proofreader with 18 years of writing experience with businesses, academics and creative writers. She obtained a Creative Writing MA (St Andrews University) and a PhD in Storytelling (Warwick University). Then set up her own proofreading business and became a published author of fiction as well as academic literature such as Young People, Learning & Storytelling (Palgrave Macmillan).

Emma Parfitt

Proofreader for business and academic documents, translations, and English writing.


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