The unusual, thorny and generally sleazy origins of 11 tech phrases you in all probability hear daily

The place does the time period “emoji” come from, anyway?


Are you able to inform the distinction between an emoji and an emoticon? Do you could have FOMO over Foobar? Ever marvel if a firewall can finish a flame conflict? If you realize what all these tech phrases imply, congratulations — you are not a digital noob. However have you ever ever questioned why we name on-line instigators trolls? (Spoiler alert: it has nothing to do with Three Billy Goats Gruff.) Or which got here first, blogs or the phrase weblog? You could converse fluent tech jargon, however I wager you do not know what Wi-Fi stands for.

Even for those who suppose you realize your meme, the origins behind a lot of the lingo we use daily may shock you. Like how Princess Leia’s onscreen existence is related to a Redditor with a celeb fetish, or how a lazy fishing approach received blended up with Scandinavian folktales within the bowels of Usenet.

Earlier than you dish out one other serving to of nerd-word salad, check out the surprisingly bizarre, splendidly layered and sometimes wanton origins of those 11 tech phrases that get tossed round daily.


Carrie Fisher reprises her function as Basic Leia in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, regardless of having been useless for practically three years, thanks partially to deepfake expertise.

Disney/Screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

Deepfake: A sordid origin story

What it’sDeepfake combines “deep studying” (an algorithm) with “faux,” and refers to convincingly lifelike video forgeries. The expertise can be utilized for good, like when filmmakers introduced Carrie Fisher again to life as Princess Leia in Rogue One and The Rise of Skywalker, or not so good, as was initially supposed (see beneath).

The place it comes from: Porn. Particularly, a Reddit consumer with the deal with “deepfakes” who created and posted faux celeb porn movies on the nameless social community in 2017. Since then, Reddit has banned “involuntary pornography,” and locations like California and Virginia have made it unlawful.

FOMO: When envy turns into nervousness

What it meansFOMO is an acronym for “worry of lacking out” and describes the nervousness that arises over your social selections, corresponding to when associates are posting pictures of 1 get together when you’re at one other (or worse, at house alone).


Nervousness arising from the worry of lacking out, or FOMO, is an particularly widespread feeling individuals get from social media networks like Instagram and Fb.

Angela Lang/CNET

The place it comes from: A 2004 op-ed in Harvard Enterprise Faculty’s The Harbus used FOMO to explain the tendency of freshmen college students to exhaust themselves by making an attempt to attend each campus occasion.

Noob: A slur for newbies

What it’sNoob is a condescending time period for a newbie gamer or technological neophyte, aka a beginner. Different spellings embody newb and n00b (with zeros).

The place it got here from: The time period beginner may be traced way back to the 1850s, that means “somebody new at one thing,” however it wasn’t till round 2000 that the shortened, pejorative type, noob, got here into widespread use amongst on-line players. 


Some individuals declare Wi-Fi stands for “wi-fi constancy,” however when you concentrate on it, what does that even imply?

Josh Miller/CNET

There is no ‘why’ in Wi-Fi

What it’s: Client-grade Wi-Fi was launched in 1997 and refers to a wi-fi community that connects gadgets corresponding to computer systems, telephones, tablets, TVs and sensible house devices to the web and one another. Wi-Fi may imply the wi-fi radio sign itself. 

What does it stand for? Completely nothing. It mainly simply sounds catchy and rhymes with hi-fi (as in “high-fidelity” sound high quality). Some declare it means “wi-fi constancy,” however a founding member of the Wi-Fi Alliance has identified how that phrase is simply as meaningless.

Blogs: Logging the net

What it’s: Weblog (quick for “internet log” or “weblog”) initially described web sites the place people posted entries in topic-related journals, like a travelogue or a set of favourite recipes. At present, blogs vary from the private to the skilled and even some which are company, with many centered on incomes revenue via internet affiliate marketing and gaming search algorithms to generate extra site visitors.


The first web site that might be described as a weblog appeared in 1994 and nonetheless seems about the identical because it did over 25 years in the past.

Screenshot by Dale Smith/CNET

The place it began: The primary web site that seemed like a weblog was created by a scholar at Swarthmore Faculty in 1994 on Hyperlinks.internet, though the time period wasn’t coined till 1997 on a weblog that collected attention-grabbing details and articles from across the internet referred to as Robotic Knowledge.

Beware the trolls

Who goes there: A troll is an web miscreant who picks fights, begins arguments or in any other case upsets others by posting provocative, off-topic, offensive feedback in web communities and boards. The first recognized use on-line dates again to 1992.

The place they arrive from: Though the trolls most individuals consider hail from Scandinavian folklore, web trolls really get their title from a fishing approach. Trawling (or trolling) is whenever you solid a internet (or a baited line) off the again of a ship, then pull it round slowly to catch fish — sort of like how trolls bait their victims by spewing vitriol throughout web boards.


Firewall is a brand new app for iPhones and Android telephones that screens incoming spam calls and means that you can spoof your quantity when calling again unknown numbers. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Firewalls: IT’s unsung heroes

What they’re: Firewalls are packages that cease cyberattackers from hijacking your telephone, pill, laptop or community. The first industrial firewall software program shipped in 1992.

The place they arrive from: Bodily firewalls are literal partitions, normally manufactured from concrete, that are erected to cease fires from spreading all through a constructing. As expertise superior, the time period caught round, so now you could have a firewall manufactured from metal within the floorboard of your automotive in addition to one comprised of laptop code in your Wi-Fi router. 

Emoticons vs. emojis

What they’re: Emoticons (a portmanteau of “emotion” and “icons”) are strings of standard keyboard symbols that, organized a sure manner, find yourself forming pictures like the enduring smiley face :-), whereas emojis (combining the Japanese phrases for “image” [eh] and “character” [moji]) are single-keystroke pictures — for instance, the opposite iconic smiley: 😀.

The place they got here from: The primary emoticons appeared in an internet bulletin board on Sept. 19, 1982 when a school professor urged laptop science college students to make use of 🙂 for posts meant as a joke and 🙁 for the intense stuff. Emojis sprung to life in 1997 when Japanese cell service SoftBank launched a set of 90 distinct characters, together with 💩.

For the 35th anniversary of the creation of the smiley, we put collectively a checklist of our 35 favourite emoticons, which, after all, consists of our previous pal, ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) Lenny.

Flame conflict is hell, on-line

What it’s: Posting or sending nasty, hurtful and offensive messages on the web is named flaming. Get two or extra individuals doing it to 1 one other and you have got a flame conflict.


Sure, you should purchase a flamethrower now. No, that is not the way you take part in an internet flame conflict.

Logan Moy/CNET

The place it comes from: Each the time period and the habits it describes developed within the early 1990s on Usenet dialogue boards (much like modern-day group chats, however with strangers).

The meme-ing of life

What they’re: Memes are low-effort creations (severely — generally simply screenshots) combining pictures lifted from the information or social media with snappy textual content or captions. They achieve viral reputation throughout the web as a result of they convey a pointed cultural joke or fact.

The place the time period originated: Controversial British evolutionary biologist, atheist and writer Richard Dawkins coined the time period in his 1976 e book The Egocentric Gene, borrowing from the Greek phrase mimeme, which roughly interprets as “imitated factor.”

Finest memes ever: Our checklist of the high 15 memes of the last decade collects essentially the most iconic, from Distracted Boyfriend to Grumpy Cat.

Which got here first: Foobar or FUBAR?

What the phrases imply: In laptop science, traces of code that may be deleted with out breaking this system are sometimes flagged with the phrases foo and barFUBAR (the acronym) means “fucked up past all recognition/purpose/restore.”  

The place they originated: FUBAR first appeared in print in a 1944 version of Yank, the Military Weekly journal. Foobar did not present up till it was included in a 1972 programing language guide. It is unclear if foobar stems instantly from FUBAR, which could also be associated to the German phrase furchtbar, that means “terrible.” Foobar, nonetheless, might come as an alternative from the Mandarin phrase fu, which suggests “happiness” or “blessing.”

For extra on tech phrases and phrases, see our tales on essentially the most annoying phrases on relationship app profiles and the 25 phrases that describe the final decade.

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