Web Culture

10 Tech Terms That Sound Like Euphemisms

Angela Randall 10-07-2012

tech euphemismIf you pay attention to current affairs, you’ve probably heard the term “fracking” more than once. Did it ever occur to you that it sounded a little like a euphemism for something else? Yeah, sure it didn’t. Even the least corrupted adult mind would draw the connection. Although, if you’re a fan of Battlestar Galactica, then the term definitely wouldn’t have escaped your attention, I’m sure.


In the IT world, there are also a number of words you probably say every day that could be seen as a euphemism. These could make your clients blush simply because they don’t understand what you mean by it and are only left with the (sometimes quite visual) image of what it sounds like. Here’s a few to avoid in non-tech company.


No matter whether it’s written down or spoken out loud, the word fsck seems like you’re trying to say something in a round-about way. The fact that you’re talking about a mere file system check doesn’t usually cross the mind of the non-tech.

Nybbles & Bytes

These cutesy-sounding units of bits bring to mind nibbling and biting in the non-tech brain. It’s all to easy too think euphemistically from there.

tech euphemism

Female Ports & Port Sniffing

Talking about male and female ports is a great example of something geeks say which sounds like a euphemism. Or at least, it would be a euphemism if the male/female part of the term hadn’t evolved from referring to genitalia.


Discussing “ports” by themselves isn’t so bad, but then when people start mentioning port sniffing and port knocking (especially after mentioning a “female port”) nearby non-techies might think the conversation switched to porn while they weren’t paying attention.


Although a dongle is a thing that dangles, it’s not the dingle-dangle doo dah the non-techie thinks you mean. And when you start talking about your dongle attachment you might even see their eyes opening a little wider in horror as they begin to believe they’re trapped in a room with some sort of pervert.

technology euphemisms

Packet Sniffing

With the average worldly person knowing all about guys and their packages, hearing a geek talk about packet sniffing might give them the wrong idea. If they think you’re referring to some sort of euphemism you’ll catch the surprised squint shortly after you mention it.



Joystick was a rather unfortunate name for something a child is going to spend a lot of time playing with. It doesn’t help that many of them also look like something you don’t want to give to a kid. What would grandma think?

technology euphemisms

Back Doors

With “back door” being a well-established euphemism in the non-tech world, it’s a little surprising geeks don’t avoid using this one in non-techie company. Oh wait, no it’s not. People using this one are either well aware of what their audience thinks they’re saying or completely oblivious to what anyone else thinks because they’re busy trying to fix a problem.

Dirty Cache

Okay, so you’re unlikely to talk about dirty caches with your clients. However, if you did they’d most likely conjure up images of a secret hideaway for dirty business (or worse). Don’t say it.


tech euphemism

What Else?

On this note, it’s probably best to avoid talking about these too – strip, finger, mount, floppy, download, flash, master-slave, man-in-the-middle, promiscuous mode, peer-to-peer, .wad file, client access, penetration testing, elfdump, unzip, vgrind, RAM, slot.

Added Bonus: Root & Route

Getting root access is something techies talk about all the time. With non-techies, you might mention it while talking about rooting phones. Well, what many people don’t realise is that this seemingly innocent phrase actually has a double meaning in some places (Australia is one of them). It’s not a euphemism, though. No, the word “root” is actual slang for – well, you know, having sex.

What’s even funnier is when some techies talk about routing, pronounced “rooting”. Aussies often pronounce “route” for technical things more like “rah-wte” to avoid this and can sometimes be seen snickering quietly whenever anyone says “root” unexpectedly or in a particularly good context.


More Reading

If you’re in the mood for explanations and humour, read on:

What are some other tech words you know of which might be thought of as a euphemism? Share in the comments!

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  1. Kyle de Veas
    July 27, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    Lol.. You gotta love female ports and port sniffing :D

    • Angela Alcorn
      July 28, 2012 at 5:38 am

      Sounds so very dodgy, huh?

  2. Martin
    July 13, 2012 at 2:12 am

    You have forgotten one of the best: Bit twiddling / bit flipping!

    • Angela Alcorn
      July 13, 2012 at 9:02 am

      Hmm. :P

  3. Austin Powers
    July 11, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    This article is saying things that are Dirty!

  4. Tom Ozminkowski
    July 11, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    I used to be the SysAdmin for a company that used thinnet. They had installed these cool, but ill-made wall ports that used connectors that broke the connection and routed it through the NIC. Since it was bus architecture, if one went down, the whole bus went down. This was mostly due to a bad connection in the port. Being cocky, I always asked if I could "crawl under their desk and jiggle their dongle." It made the day more fun.

    Also, don't forget CAD.

    • Angela Alcorn
      July 13, 2012 at 9:02 am

      Brilliant stuff.

  5. Daniel Escasa
    July 11, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    Without reviewing the article, I can think of at least two terms that are near-mainstream, if not actually mainstream: 'floppy' and 'joystick'. Come on, is there anyone who isn't familiar with them?

    • Angela Alcorn
      July 13, 2012 at 9:00 am

      Yeah, but no-one uses floppies anymore. Just hard drives and dongles. :P

  6. Rick Stanley
    July 11, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    How about SCSI (Pronounced scuzzy!)? ;^) I could combine that with at least one mentioned in the original article, but will leave that to your imagination! ;^)

    I would also rather have a Hard Drive than a Floppy! ;^)

  7. Martin K
    July 11, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    At least I haven't been caught with a 5" floppy in my hand for some time now...

  8. Chris
    July 11, 2012 at 6:01 am

    I first learned the word "dongle" sometime in the early 1990s; my friend had picked up a button from some tech show that said, "Ask me about my dongle." I wish I still had that button....

    • Angela Alcorn
      July 13, 2012 at 8:58 am

      It needs to be re-made. :D

  9. Wish Uknew
    July 10, 2012 at 11:12 pm

    Common Linux Commands

    • Nick Bruce
      July 11, 2012 at 2:21 am

      mount I could always get over, but finger... someone clearly wasn't thinking properly when they wrote that one.

    • musicphann
      July 11, 2012 at 3:24 am

      Linux: The most explicit OS. The order of those commands is all too appropriate.

      • Nick Bruce
        July 11, 2012 at 6:26 pm

        I am ashamed to say that I didn't catch that when I read the comment. I'm disappointed in myself now.

        • Angela Alcorn
          July 13, 2012 at 8:58 am

          I didn't see it the first time either!

      • Paul
        July 12, 2012 at 11:15 am

        Haha! I just laughed out loud in a very silent office. Thanks, jerk.

        • musicphann
          July 12, 2012 at 5:08 pm

          I'm doing my best to get you fired. ;-)

      • Angela Alcorn
        July 13, 2012 at 8:57 am

        Hah, brilliant. :D

    • Angela Alcorn
      July 13, 2012 at 8:57 am

      Heh, I don't even register Unzip anymore. Finger's a great one, but hardly anyone uses it any more.