Word Nerd: 6 Tech Terms You Can Use Without Being a Techie

8 Aug


In an earlier Word Nerd, we emphasized how English as a language begs, borrows and steals. There, we talked about how its sources have been other languages – Hindi, German, French, Latin and so on. But, of late, it is the jargon of technology – articulated through the internet, science, and media, which is becoming a fixture in everyday speech.

And that is hardly surprising given that technology (especially, but not limited to, the internet) is a necessity in our lives. Who doesn’t know the meaning of a selfie, Wi-Fi, blog, or vlog? And who isn’t given to using words like friended, unfollowed, and liked as verbs? Before puritans and pundits object, we’d like to suggest that Shakespeare would approve.

It’s interesting to see just how ubiquitous these words have become. And if you aren’t familiar with these terms, you can now learn them and flaunt them for fun.

1. 404: Technically, this is not so much a word, but a number. 404 is a pretty standard message which shows up when the server is unable to find what is requested of it. It also indicates a broken or dead link. In real world parlance, it means “clueless”.

“Trump’s a 404 on the foreign policy. And the domestic policy. And everything that being a decent President involves.”

2. Bandwidth: The phrase ‘running out of bandwidth’, uses bandwidth in the context of internet connection or web hosting. To most of us, bandwidth means the amount of data transferred. We constantly moan about this when our internet slows down, or our mobile data runs out.

This is also the sense in which we use it in our daily lives. Imagine a team mate piping up at the last minute on a Friday to say, “I’m out of bandwidth, you’ll have to take this on.” Makes for a cheery weekend.

3. Bio break: This term doesn’t come from a code or a computer language. It seems to have emerged in techie offices and is still current in workplaces. It’s a geeky alternative to euphemisms like “powdering your nose” and “answering nature’s call.”

We know you’ve guessed the meaning by now.

4. Brain dump: In computing jargon, this means making a snapshot of a database for the purpose of archiving or transferring. To you, me and others like us, it means dumping specific information from our brain into another brain or medium (like paper or the computer).

“I wish I could brain dump into a pensieve like Dumbledore. I’d never fail another test.”

5. Dead-tree version: This is going to pinch the environmentally conscious and old-fashioned among us who prefer to read on paper rather than on a screen. But, every so often, one needs a dead-tree version of a bill, a report, or a contract. Because not everyone has caught up to speed with digitisation, especially the governments.

“I’m carrying a forest worth of the dead-tree version of all my certificates for the visa interview.”

6. Mommy-Save: This phrase doesn’t denote proficiency but its lack. And while we don’t know who decided to diss the tribe of mothers worldwide by coining this phrase, we like to imagine that they had a rant-and-rave served cold for dinner.

You mommy-save if you click save on anything and everything without having decided whether and where it should be saved.

“Sheila has mommy saved all the photos – summer school, Chris Hemsworth, and the birds project in her personal folder.”

Any tech-speak you’re fond of that we haven’t listed here?

Email us or leave a comment below! Check out previous Word Nerd posts here!


By Skendha Singh

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