The Business & High-Tech Dictionary Project is a promising new online lexicon:
This project got its start with the realization that there are no web sites that focus on the etymology and usage of business and high-tech jargon terms. There are many business jargon glossary sites, but none that apply rigorous lexicographic standards to the subject.
The world of business, and particularly high-tech business, is fertile ground for neologisms and catch phrases. General and slang dictionaries do not cover many of these terms, either because they are used in too limited a context or because they appear faster than print dictionaries can react. The internet is the ideal medium for capturing these terms and describing how they are used. Not only can a web site respond to new terms and phrases much faster than a print source, but it can also rely on a web of contributors to expand the dictionary and provide citations of usage.
As they say, it’s “very much a work in progress,” and you can help it grow: go to the Contribute page, read the criteria, and fill out the form.
A sample that gives a sense of how useful (and entertaining) the project can be:
Definition: an error or fault in hardware or software
Etymology: Apparently coined by someone in Thomas Edison’s lab; from the insect, probably because it is annoying and difficult to remove. The belief that the term stems from a 1947 incident (see citation) where computer pioneer Grace Hopper found a moth in the Harvard Mark II computer is incorrect. The term predates this incident by almost 70 years.
Last Updated: 13 March 2005
1878 T.EDISON, Josephson’s Edison, p. 198 (in HDAS) “Bugs”—as such little faults and difficulties are called—show themselves and months of anxious watching, study and labor are requisite before commercial success…is reached.
1889 PALL MALL GAZETTE, 11 Mar., p. 1/1 (in OED) Mr. Edison, I was informed, had been up the two previous nights discovering ‘a bug’ in his phonograph—an expression for solving a difficulty, and implying that some imaginary insect has secreted itself inside and is causing all the trouble.
1909 WARE, Pass. English, p. 53 (in HDAS) The phraseology of Edison, to judge from his day-book records, is synthetic, strongly descriptive, and quaint…A “bug” is a difficulty which appears insurmountable to the staff. To the master it is “an ugly insect that lives on the lazy and can and must be killed.”
1917, NEW YORK TIMES, 14 Nov., p. 9 Some “bugs,” as defects or eccentricities are known, have developed, but up until this time all such are minor matters requiring no delay in the quantity production of engines.
1937, NEW YORK TIMES, 22 Jul., p. 27 “No building code or any code of that kind can be drawn up without bugs, defects or jokers,” [La Guardia] commented. “The only thing to do with this code is to try it and be ready to amend it as soon as the bugs, defects and jokers appear. It is exactly like the airplane motor which looked perfect on the drafting board and which will not fly.”
1945 [1947?—LH], Mark II Log Book, Naval Museum, Naval Surface Warfare Center, 9 Sep. (in Annals of the History of Computing, Vol. 3, No. 3, July 1981, pp. 285-286) Relay #70 Panel F (moth) in relay. First actual case of bug being found.
1958 Engineering, 14 Mar., p. 336/2 (in OED) The seven-and-a-half years..was not an excessive time to..get the ‘bugs’ out of a new system of that kind.
1961, NEW YORK TIMES, 19 Feb., p. 213 In the past few months there has been a disturbing number (or, depending on one’s point of view, an encouraging number) of “bugs” reported among the country’s ever-increasing machine population.
1970, NEW YORK TIMES, 22 Nov., p. 71 But City Clerk George Edwards assured the critics that the “bugs” were worked out of the system and that, come November, it would finally begin to pay off
1981 USENET: net.news, 25 Aug. Sorry folks – my fault. There was a bug in our rmail program, causing it to core dump in certain cases involving arpanet mail. I claim to have fixed it—let me know of future strangeness.
1999, LOS ANGELES TIMES, 18 Sep.,
p. 1 Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan warned Friday that “fear-induced” reactions by consumers and businesses to the 2000 computer glitch present a bigger challenge to the economy than the millennium bug itself.
2005 USENET: comp.sys.mac.system,
9 Mar. Is there some timeout value for rsh which can be changed, or is this a bug? Has anyone else had this problem and found a workaround?