The Jargon File

A Chronology...The Jargon FileComputer Dictionary
[originally, someone who makes furniture with an axe] n. 1. A person who enjoys learning the details of programming systems and how to stretch their capabilities, as opposed to most users who prefer to learn only the minimum necessary.
2. One who programs enthusiastically, or who enjoys programming rather than just theorizing about programming.
3. A person capable of appreciating hack value (q.v.).
4. A person who is good at programming quickly. Not everything a hacker produces is a hack.
5. An expert at a particular program, or one who frequently does work using it or on it; example: "A SAIL hacker". (Definitions 1 to 5 are correlated, and people who fit them congregate.)
6. A malicious or inquisitive meddler who tries to discover information by poking around. Hence "password hacker", "network hacker".
adj. Being or involving a hack. HACKISHNESS n.
n. The complications which make something hairy. "Decoding TECO commands requires a certain amount of hair." Often seen in the phrase INFINITE HAIR, which connotes extreme complexity.
adj.1.Overly complicated. "DWIM is incredibly hairy."
2.Incomprehensible. "DWIM is incredibly hairy."
3. Of people, high-powered, authoritative, rare, expert, and/or incomprehensible. Hard to explain except in context: "He knows this hairy lawyer who says there's nothing to worry about."
n. MIT AI Memo 239 (February 1972). A collection of neat mathematical and programming hacks contributed by many people at MIT and elsewhere.
1.v. To gloss over a complex point; to distract a listener; to support a (possibly actually valid) point with blatantly faulty logic.
2.n. The act of handwaving. "Boy, what a handwave!" The use of this word is often accompanied by gestures: both hands up, palms forward, swinging the hands in a vertical plane pivoting at the elbows and/or shoulders (depending on the magnitude of the handwave); alternatively, holding the forearms still while rotating the hands at the wrist to make them flutter. In context, the gestures alone can suffice as a remark.
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