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Geek Terms for the Late 90'ies

Author unknown, compiled from various sources

For a complete dictionary of Hacker slang, see The Jargon File.


Someone who's clueless. From the World Wide Web message "404, URL Not Found" meaning that the document you've tried to access can't be located. "Don't bother asking him...he's 404, man."


The rarified organizational layers beginning just above the rank and file. Decisions that fall from the adminisphere are often profoundly inappropriate or irrelevant to the problems they were designed to solve.

Alpha Geek:

The most knowledgable, technically proficient person in an office or work group. "Ask Larry, he's the alpha geek around here."

Arachnoleptic fit:

The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.


The process by which some people seem to absorb success and advancement by kissing up to the boss rather than working hard.


Putting up an emotional shield just as a relationship enters that intimate, vulnerable stage. Refers to the retractable armor covering the Batmobile.


Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets into your bedroom at 3 in the morning and cannot be cast out.


The brief siezure people sometimes suffer when their beepers go off, especially in vibrator mode. Characterized by physical spasms, goofy facial expressions, and stopping speech in mid-sentence.


A TV or radio fund-raiser for a charity, religious organization, or PBS station that employs every known form of guilt, sweet talking, and outright begging to get people to fork over the dough.


Sitting around in a group discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed, and who was responsible.

Blowing Your Buffer:

Losing one's train of thought. Occurs when the person you are speaking with won't let you get a word in edgewise or has just said something so astonishing that your train gets derailed. "Damn, I just blew my buffer!"

Body Nazis:

Hard-core exercise and weight-lifting fanatics who look down on anyone who doesn't work out obsessively.


To take note of a person for future reference (a metaphor borrowed from web browsers). "I bookmarked him after seeing his cool demo at Siggraph."


The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

Brain Fart:

A biproduct of a bloated mind producing information effortlessly. A burst of useful information. "I know you're busy on the Microsoft story, but can you give us a brain fart on the Mitnik bust?" Variation of old hacker slang that had more negative connotations.

Career-Limiting Move (CLM):

Used among microserfs to describe an ill-advised activity. Trashing your boss while he or she is within earshot is a serious CLM.


The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.


The colour you turn after finding half a grub in the fruit you're eating.

CGI Joe:

A hard-core CGI script programmer with all the social skills and charisma of a plastic action figure.

Chainsaw Consultant

An outside expert brought in to reduce the employee head count, leaving the brass with clean hands.

Chip Jewelry:

A euphamism for old computers destined to be scrapped or turned into decorative ornaments. "I paid three grand for that Mac SE, and now it's nothing but chip jewelry."

Chips and Salsa:

Chips = hardware, salsa = software. "Well, first we gotta figure out if the problem's in your chips or your salsa."

Client-Server Action:

Geek euphamism for having sex. "I went to the Oracle party the other night hoping for some client-server action."

Cobweb Site:

A World Wide Web Site that hasn't been updated for a long time. A dead web page.


The resentment permanent workers feel toward the fill-in workers.


A badly written or profoundly useless Java applet. "I just wasted 30 minutes downloading this stinkin' crapplet!"

Cube Farm:

An office filled with cubicles.

Dancing Baloney:

Little animated GIFs and other Web F/X that are useless and serve simply to impress clients. "This page is kinda dull. Maybe a little dancing baloney will help."

Dead Tree Edition:

The paper version of a publication available in both paper and electronic forms, as in: "The dead tree edition of the San Francisco Chronicle..."


The gruelling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.


Fear associated with entering a Home Depot because of how much money one might spend. Electronics geeks experience Shackophobia.


To be exploited and oppressed by your boss. Derived from the experiences of Dilbert, the geek-in-hell comic strip character. "I've been dilberted again. The old man revised the specs for the fourth time this week."

Dopelar effect:

The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when you come at them rapidly.

Dorito Syndrome:

Feelings of emptiness and dissatisfaction triggered by addictive substances that lack nutritional content. "I just spent six hours surfing the Web, and now I've got a bad case of Dorito Syndrome."


Scanning the net, databases, print media, or research papers looking for the mention of your name.

Elvis Year:

The peak year of something's popularity. "Barney the dinosaur's Elvis year was 1993."


An eating place where you feel you've been abducted and experimented upon. Also known as an E-T-ry.


How wildlife ends up when its environment is destroyed. Hence faunacatering (v.), which has made a meal of many species.

Flight Risk:

Used to describe employees who are suspected of planning to leave a company or department soon.


Any misrepresentation or outright lie about yourself that leads to sex.


Features of the American landscape that are exactly the same no matter where one is. "We were so lost in generica, I actually forgot what city we were in."


Vandalism spray-painted very, very high, such as the famous "Surrender Dorothy" on the Beltway overpass.


Corporate-speak for sleeping with your eyes open. A popular pastime at conferences and early-morning meetings. "Didn't he notice that half the room was glazing by the second session?"


All talk and no action.

Going Postal:

Euphemism for being totally stressed out, for losing it. Makes reference to the unfortunate track record of postal employees who have snapped and gone on shooting rampages.


The cold, isolated place where art companies dwell without funding.

Gray Matter:

Older, experienced business people hired by young entrepreneurial firms looking to appear more reputable and established.

Graybar Land:

The place you go while you're staring at a computer that's processing something very slowly (while you watch the gray bar creep across the screen). "I was in graybar land for what seemed like hours, thanks to that CAD rendering."


The bloody state of the world.


Terminal coolness.

Idea Hamsters:

People who always seem to have their idea generators running.


Eager anticipation by men awaiting their Viagra prescription.


Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realise it was your money to start with.


Entertainment and media spectacles that are annoying, but you find yourself unable to stop watching them. The O.J. trials were a prime example..

It's a Feature:

From the adage "It's not a bug, it's a feature." Used sarcastically to describe an unpleasant experience that you wish to gloss over.

Juice A Brick:

To recharge the big, heavy NiCad batteries used in portable video cameras. "You better start juicing those bricks, we've got a long shoot tomorrow."

Keyboard Plaque:

The disgusting buildup of dirt and crud found on computer keyboards. "Are there any other terminals I can use? This one has a bad case of keyboard plaque."


A painful inability to move relatives who come to visit.

Link Rot:

The process by which links on a web page became as obsolete as the sites they're connected to change location or die.


An idea that keeps floating into your head and prevents you from drifting off to sleep.

Midair Passenger Exchange:

Grim air-traffic-controller speak for a head-on collision. Midair passenger exchanges are immediately followed by "aluminum rain."

Mouse Potato:

The online, wired generation's answer to the couch potato.


Nickname for AOL's less-than-full-featured Web browser.


That minuscule fraction of time in which you realize that you've just made a big mistake.

Object Value:

In industrial design, a measure of consumers' immediate desire for an object, even before they know or understand what it does. "Gassee may be nuts, but at least the BeBox has great object value."

Open-Collar Workers:

People who work at home or telecommute.


Tech support shorthand for "Problem Exists Between Chair and Keyboard." Techies are a frustrated, often arrogant lot. They've submitted numerous acronyms and terms that poke fun at the clueless users who call them up with frighteningly stupid questions. Another variation on the above is ID10T: "This guy has an ID-Ten-T on his system."

Percussive Maintenance:

The fine art of whacking the crap out of an electronic device to get it to work again.


To quit unexpectedly, as in "My cellular phone just perot'ed."


A new hire who doesn't need any training. "The new guy, John, is great. He's totally plug-and-play."

Prairie Dogging:

When someone yells or drops something loudly in a cubefarm, and people's heads pop up over the walls to see what's going on.

Salmon Day:

The experience of spending an entire day swimming upstream only to get screwed in the end.


The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the recipient who doesn't get it.

Seagull Manager

A manager who flies in, makes a lot of noise, craps all over everything and then leaves.


When a store's electronic scanner (usually inadvertantly) prices an item higher than the price on the store's shelf or in an advertisement.


What yuppies turn into when they have children and one of them stops working to stay home with the kids. Stands for Single Income, Two Children, Oppressive Mortgage.

Square-headed Girlfriend:

Another word for a computer. The victim of a square-headed girlfriend is a "computer widow."

Squirt The Bird:

To transmit a signal up to a satellite. "Crew and talent are ready...what time do we squirt the bird?"

Starter Marriage:

A short-lived first marriage that ends in divorce with no kids, no property and no regrets.

Stress Puppy:

A person who seems to thrive on being stressed out and whiny.

Swiped Out:

An ATM or credit card that has been rendered useless because the magnetic strip is worn away from extensive use.

Telephone Number Salary:

A salary (or project budget) that has seven digits.


People who are taking training classes just to get a vacation from their jobs. "We had about three serious students in the class; the rest were tourists."


Hacker slang for documentation or other printed material.


A sexual relation of dubious standing. "This is uh.. Dale,"

Under Mouse Arrest:

Getting busted for violating an online service's rule of conduct. "Sorry I couldn't get back to you. AOL put me under mouse arrest."


Euphemism for being fired. Heard on the voice mail of a vice president at a downsizing computer firm: "You have reached the number of an uninstalled vice president. Please dial our main number and ask the operator for assistance." See also Decruitment.

Vomit Comet:

A plane used to simulate zero-G for astronaut flight training. Trainees often get motion sickness inside.

Vulcan Nerve Pinch:

The taxing hand position required to reach all of the appropriate keys for certain commands. For instance, the warm re-boot for a Mac II computer involves simultaneously pressing the Control key, the Command key, the Return key and the Power On key.

World Wide Wait:

The real meaning of WWW.

Yuppie Food Stamps:

The ubiquitous $20 bills spewed out of ATMs everywhere. Often used when trying to split the bill after a meal: "We all owe $8 each, but all anybody's got is yuppie food stamps."

Xerox Subsidy:

Euphemism for swiping free photocopies from one's workplace.


Auswege: Impressum, Haftungsausschluß, Datenschutz, Humor im Internet, meine Homepage.
Links: Imprint, Humor on the Internet, my homepage.

Thomas Bätzler,
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