The unusual, tough and often sleazy origins of 11 tech terms you most likely hear every day

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Where does the term “emoji” originate from, anyhow?


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Can you discriminate in between an emoji and an emoticon? Do you have FOMO over Foobar? Ever question if a firewall software can end a flame war? If you understand what all these tech terms imply, congratulations — you’re no longer a digital noob. But have you ever questioned why we call online provocateurs giants? (Spoiler alert: it has absolutely nothing to do with Three Billy Goats Gruff.) Or which preceded, blog sites or the word blog site? You might speak proficient tech lingo, however I wager you do not understand what Wi-Fi means.

Even if you believe you understand your meme, the origins behind much of the terminology we utilize every day may amaze you. Like how Princess Leia’s onscreen presence is linked to a Redditor with a celeb fetish, or how a lazy fishing method got blended with Scandinavian folktales in the bowels of Usenet.

Before you dispense another assisting of nerd-word salad, have a look at the remarkably unusual, incredibly layered and periodically wanton origins of these 11 tech terms that get considered every day.

Carrie Fisher repeats her function as General Leia in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, regardless of having actually been dead for almost 3 years, thanks in part to deepfake innovation.


Disney/Screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

Deepfake: A sordid origin story

What it isDeepfake combines “deep knowing” (an algorithm) with “phony,” and describes convincingly practical video forgeries. The innovation can be utilized for excellent, like when filmmakers brought Carrie Fisher back to life as Princess Leia in Rogue One and The Rise of Skywalker, or not so excellent, as was initially meant (see listed below).

Where it originates from: Porn. Specifically, a Reddit user with the manage “deepfakes” who developed and published phony celeb pornography videos on the confidential social media in 2017. Since then, Reddit has prohibited “uncontrolled porn,” and locations like California and Virginia have actually made it unlawful.

FOMO: When envy ends up being stress and anxiety

What it suggestsFOMO is an acronym for “fear of missing out” and explains the stress and anxiety that develops over your social options, such as when good friends are publishing pictures of one celebration while you’re at another (or even worse, in the house alone).

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Anxiety developing from the worry of losing out, or FOMO, is a specifically typical sensation individuals obtain from social networks networks like Instagram and Facebook.


Angela Lang/CNET

Where it originates from: A 2004 op-ed in Harvard Business School’s The Harbus utilized FOMO to explain the propensity of freshmen trainees to tire themselves by attempting to participate in every school occasion.

Noob: A slur for newbies

What it isNoob is a condescending term for a newbie player or technological neophyte, aka a novice. Alternative spellings consist of newb and n00b (with nos).

Where it originated from: The term novice can be traced as far back as the 1850s, significance “someone new at something,” however it wasn’t up until around 2000 that the reduced, pejorative type, noob, entered typical usage amongst online players. 

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Some individuals declare Wi-Fi means “wireless fidelity,” however when you think of it, what does that even imply?


Josh Miller/CNET

There’s no ‘why’ in Wi-Fi

What it is:  Consumer-grade Wi-Fi was launched in 1997 and describes a cordless network that links gadgets such as computer systems, phones, tablets, Televisions and clever house gizmos to the web and each other. Wi-Fi can likewise imply the cordless radio signal itself. 

What does it mean? Absolutely absolutely nothing. It generally simply sounds appealing and rhymes with hi-fi (as in “high-fidelity” sound quality). Some declare it suggests “wireless fidelity,” however an establishing member of the Wi-Fi Alliance has actually explained how that expression is simply as useless.

Blogs: Logging the web

What it is: Blog (brief for “web log” or “weblog”) initially explained sites where people published entries in topic-related journals, like a travelogue or a collection of preferred dishes. Today, blog sites vary from the individual to the expert and even some that are business, with numerous concentrated on making earnings through affiliate marketing and video gaming search algorithms to create more traffic.

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The very first site that might be referred to as a blog site appeared in 1994 and still looks about the like it did over 25 years back.


Screenshot by Dale Smith/CNET

Where it began: The very first site that appeared like a blog site was developed by a trainee at Swarthmore College in 1994 on Links.web, although the term wasn’t created up until 1997 on a blog site that gathered intriguing truths and posts from around the web called Robot Wisdom.

Beware the giants

Who goes there: A giant is a web miscreant who chooses battles, begins arguments or otherwise upsets others by publishing intriguing, off-topic, offending remarks in web neighborhoods and online forums. The initially understood usage online go back to 1992.

Where they originate from: Although the giants the majority of people consider come from Scandinavian folklore, web giants really get their name from a fishing method. Trawling (or trolling) is when you cast an internet (or a baited line) off the back of a boat, then pull it around gradually to capture fish — sort of like how giants bait their victims by gushing vitriol throughout web online forums.

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Firewall is a brand-new app for iPhones and Android phones that evaluates inbound spam calls and permits you to spoof your number when recalling unidentified numbers. 


Jason Cipriani/CNET

Firewalls: IT’s unrecognized heroes

What they are: Firewalls are programs that stop cyberattackers from pirating your phone, tablet, computer system or network. The very first industrial firewall program software application delivered in 1992.

Where they originate from: Physical firewall softwares are actual walls, typically made from concrete, which are put up to stop fires from spreading out throughout a structure. As innovation advanced, the term remained, so now you have a firewall software made from steel in the floorboard of your vehicle along with one consisted of computer system code on your Wi-Fi router. 

Emoticons vs. emojis

What they are: Emoticons (a portmanteau of “emotion” and “icons”) are strings of routine keyboard signs that, set up a particular method, wind up forming images like the renowned smiley face :-), whereas emojis (integrating the Japanese words for “picture” [eh] and “character” [moji]) are single-keystroke images — for instance, the other renowned smiley: 😀.

Where they originated from: The very first emoticons appeared in an online bulletin board system on Sept. 19, 1982 when a college teacher prompted computer technology trainees to utilize 🙂 for posts implied as a joke and 🙁 for the severe things. Emojis sprung to life in 1997 when Japanese cell provider SoftBank launched a set of 90 unique characters, consisting of 💩.

For the 35th anniversary of the development of the smiley, we created a list of our 35 preferred emoticons, which, obviously, includes our old friend, ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) Lenny.

Flame war is hell, online

What it is: Posting or sending out nasty, upsetting and offending messages on the web is referred to as flaming. Get 2 or more individuals doing it to one another and you have actually got a flame war.

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Yes, you can purchase a weapon now. No, that’s not how you take part in an online flame war.


Logan Moy/CNET

Where it originates from:  Both the term and the habits it explains established in the early 1990s on Usenet conversation online forums (comparable to modern-day group talks, however with complete strangers).

The meme-ing of life

What they are: Memes are low-effort developments (seriously — often simply screenshots) integrating pictures raised from the news or social networks with stylish text or captions. They gain viral appeal throughout the web due to the fact that they communicate a pointed cultural joke or fact.

Where the term stemmed: Controversial British evolutionary biologist, atheist and author Richard Dawkins created the term in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, loaning from the Greek word mimeme, which approximately equates as “imitated thing.”

Best memes ever: Our list of the top 15 memes of the years gathers the most renowned, from Distracted Boyfriend to Grumpy Cat.

Which preceded: Foobar or FUBAR?

What the terms imply: In computer technology, lines of code that can be erased without breaking the program are frequently flagged with the words foo and barFUBAR (the acronym) suggests “fucked up beyond all recognition/reason/repair.”  

Where they stemmed: FUBAR initially appeared in print in a 1944 edition of Yank, the Army Weekly publication. Foobar didn’t appear till it was consisted of in a 1972 programing language handbook. It’s uncertain if foobar stems straight from FUBAR, which might be associated with the German word furchtbar, significance “awful.” Foobar, nevertheless, might come rather from the Mandarin word fu, which suggests “happiness” or “blessing.”

For more on tech terms and expressions, see our stories on the most irritating expressions on dating app profiles and the 25 words that explain the last years.

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