Crud, yes, but ‘cruft’? Another word that was new to me this week, found in The Guardian: ‘Fill databases of valuable customer information with rubbish, to let the valuable names hide among the cruft.’ My big Collins dictionary (old-tech, paper and a weight), the British National Corpus and Cobuild all drew a blank (apart from the inevitable dog show), but Webcorp led first to a site which, in February 2007, still felt it needed to use quotation marks and explain the word in brackets as ‘unnecessary code’. Then the links led to the ever-useful Wikipedia, where we learn: ‘In hacker jargon, cruft describes areas of something which are badly designed, poorly implemented or redundant’. There’s an interesting suggested etymology from Harvard University’s Cruft Laboratory: ‘if the place filled with useless machinery is called Cruft Hall, the machinery itself must be cruft’. The links goes on, as the page reminds me of the term backronym – something for another time?
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