Re: Etymological query

Subject: Re: Etymological query
From: Steve Barnet <barnet -at- MAYBERRY -dot- CRAY -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 7 Oct 1993 08:53:25 CDT

> Hugh Rawson, in A Dictionary of Euphemisms and other Doubletalk (1981)
> lists fubar along with a dozen other fu's under the heading snafu. He
> credits snafu to "...some unsung genius in the British army about 1940
> ..."(p260). I didn't find an entry in Brewer's Dictionary. The OED
> Supplement ignores fubar but considers snafu American.

> Foo as a computer term rings a distant bell but I wouldn't swear to it. I
> have heard the same thing (code that is written for one time use only)
> referred to as Kleenex code (or Kode). The derivation seems obvious.

'foo' indeed runs rampant through computer texts. One of the most prominent
examples I can think of is Guy Steele's book 'Common LISP the Language'

I had not heard of the 'For Once Only' interpretation, but it does seem
consistent with Steele's usage. 'foo' is typically the name of some example
function or piece of code that is intended 'for once only' use. Other texts
also use foo in the same context but with varying frequency.

I wouldn't describe it as a computer term per se. It seems to be more of a
place holder that's only slightly more interesting than using 'x' or
similar place holder.

> M. Carl Drott
> Drexel University


+ Steve Barnet | The normal world situation +
+ Hardware Publications & Training | doesn't happen often -- but it +
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+ I speak for myself, not my employer! | --Rod Anderson +
+ barnet -at- cray -dot- com | Cray Research, Inc. +

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