kludge

<jargon> /kluhj/ (From the old Scots "kludgie" meaning an outside toilet) A Scottish engineering term for anything added in an ad hoc (and possibly unhygenic!) manner. At some point during the Second World War, Scottish engineers met Americans and the meaning, spelling and pronunciation of kludge became confused with that of "kluge".

The spelling "kludge" was apparently popularised by the "Datamation" cited below which defined it as "An ill-assorted collection of poorly matching parts, forming a distressing whole."

The result of this tangled history is a mess; in 1993, many (perhaps even most) hackers pronounce the word /klooj/ but spell it "kludge" (compare the pronunciation drift of mung). Some observers consider this appropriate in view of its meaning.

["How to Design a Kludge", Jackson Granholme, Datamation, February 1962, pp. 30-31].

[Jargon File]

Last updated: 1998-12-09

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Nearby terms: KLOC « klone « KL-ONE « kludge » kluge » kluge around » km


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