Delicious Cookies, Stupid Bugs and Helpful Breadcrumbs: Inventive Names from IT

"To use this website, you need to accept cookies." Sure, I accept! Bring it on! But seriously: how did virtual Cookies and other terms from IT get their names? Many technical terms from IT have amazingly creative names. Time to take a look at the history and stories behind these names.


As so often, names in IT stem from all areas of life. They may be everyday terms which are assigned a special new meaning (e.g. 'Cookie', 'Bug'). But there's more: neologisms by merging words ('Emoticon'), changed spelling ('Phishing') and references to pop culture ('Hollywood Principle'). Today we take a look at names from web culture and network technology.

Origin of names from web culture

The Internet has spawned its own web culture - and many terms used by 'digital natives' are so common today that we often do not even notice how original they are. Have you ever wondered about the origins of the following names from web culture...?


NameRobot's avatarAn avatar is a graphical representation of a user, a representative of yourself in the digital world. The word is derived from Sanskrit and means 'incarnation' - of a God who descended into the physical world.


A CAPTCHA is a small program that verifies that data input stems from a real person and not a computer. The name is an acronym for 'Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart'. Also, its pronunciation (like 'capture') fits because a CAPTCHA 'captures' human input.


EmoticonsEmoticon is the 'technical' term for Internet smileys. The name is derived from two words, 'emotion' and 'icon', which have been merged. Simple, but awesome. ^ _ ^ :-)


A favicon is the small icon that identifies websites in your browser as it makes them easier to recognize in the bookmarks or browser tabs. The name consists of the components 'favorite' and 'icon'. It is pronunced [fævɪkɒn]. Names such as 'favicon' can be generated quickly with the Merger tool.

Phishing and Pharming

Phishing can be compared with virtual fishing - with the difference that phishers fish for personal information in order to resell them instead of real fish. Changing the spelling of a word to attract attention is called 'Sensational Spelling'. An online scam technique related to Phishing is called Pharming.


Spam is a classic Internet nuisance which is abundant in nearly every virtual mailbox. The name is derived from the a brand of canned meat with the same name. Spam found its way into a Monty Python sketch where it was repeated in an endless loop. And since e-mail spam uses the same method for advertising, it got its name from the canned meat brand.

Origin of names from the network technology

If you use the Internet, you don't necessarily have to have detailed knowledge of network technology. After all, you don't need to be a mechnaic to drive a car. Nevertheless, it is exciting to take a look behind the scenes to find our which curious names hide here .


Bluetooth is the name for a standard for close-range data transfer between devices. The name is a tribute to Harald Blåtand ('blue tooth'), a Danish king from the 10th Century. He was a communication genius and managed to unite Denmark under one crown. The origin of his epithet is uncertain: it is however possible that the term 'tooth' doesn't even relate to a real tooth, but rather a sword.


'Mmmh, cookies! Cookies are small text files on your computer which save information about visited websites. The name is derived from the similar 'magic cookies' which provide information between cooperating parts of software. It is unclear how magic cookies got their name: from the American custom to share cookies, from fortune cookies (which also provide small bits of information), or from a nickname for LSD, magic cookie .


Ethernet is a network technology and the most common type of data connection between computers in a LAN. The name is derived from the term 'ether', a substance postulated in the 17. Century as a medium for the propagation of light. The pronunciation is [iːˌθərnɛt].


A firewall is a protection against unwanted network access. The term is derived from physical fire barriers in the analogue world. Nowadays, the term is probably used more frequently in its digital version than in physical form since almost every network has a firewall.

Hot spot

Hot spots are public wireless Internet access points that can be found in a growing number of cities. They are most commonly found in cafes and other public places. Many open wifis or hotspots have original names: you can find some of the best ones in our blog post on funny wifi names.

Naming in the area of operating systems and software


A cron job is a process or task that is executed on Unix systems at regular intervals, for example to retrieve e-mails, create backups or synchronize data. The name is derived from the Greek word Chronos, which stands for the god of time or the concept of time itself.


A daemon is a Unix program that runs continuously in the background and executes an action on certain input. Under Microsoft Windows such programs are called "system service". The name daemon is derived from the Greek and means something like "spirit of service".


In computer science, the shell is a software that represents the interface between user and computer. The name is derived from the English term for mussel shells. Just like the software shell, it is the surface between the outer and inner world.


A zombie is a process on a Unix system that still appears in the process table even though its execution has already ended. Just like a zombie, it is therefore virtually undead: no longer alive, but not yet fetched by death. Unlike "real" zombies, however, zombie processes do not cause any damage.


Breadcrumb navigation is a help in user interfaces that tells the user where he is within a program. The name is derived from the Grimm fairy tale Hansel and Gretel, in which children lay a trail of breadcrumbs to avoid getting lost.

Designations from the programming


A bug is a synonym for program errors that lead to misbehavior in software. The name originates from the 19th century, when it was assumed that small animals in telephone lines caused the characteristic noise. In 1947, when a moth was found in a computer that actually caused a malfunction, the term "bug" for misbehaviour in computer applications was consolidated.


CamelCase is a term for a naming convention in which the first letter of a compound word is capitalized. "NameRobot" is such an example for the use of CamelCase. The name comes from the similarity to camel humps. Other names for CamelCase are CamelCaps, BumpyCaps, HumpBack or InterCaps.


A cache is a buffer that makes recently used information available for quick reload. The name is derived from the English word for "(secret) storage".

Hollywood principle

The Hollywood principle is a concept from object-oriented programming. With a winking reference to the American film industry, it says, "Don't call us, we call you." It refers to the reversal of the control flow within a program.

There are even more exciting and funny things from the world of IT names in the article Naming Programming Languages: From Acronyms to Porn Stars.

By the way, find inspiration for unexpected names in our brainstorming tool.



"Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies" by Kimberly Vardeman from Lubbock, TX, USA (

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