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/grok/, /grohk/ (From the novel "Stranger in a Strange Land", by Robert A. Heinlein, where it is a Martian word meaning literally "to drink" and metaphorically "to be one with")

1. To understand, usually in a global sense. Connotes intimate and exhaustive knowledge.

Contrast zen, which is similar supernal understanding experienced as a single brief flash. See also glark.

2. Used of programs, may connote merely sufficient understanding. "Almost all C compilers grok the "void" type these days."


To have a thorough understanding of a subject. The word comes from Robert Heinlein's "Stranger in a Strange Land," and it means "to drink" in Martian. Of course. But more specifically in the book, it meant to take something in so thoroughly that it becomes part of you.

Grokking the GIMP
The GIMP is a sophisticated paint and image editing program in the Unix environment (see GIMP). This book, "Grokking the GIMP" by Carey Bunks is a title that means "Completely Understand the GIMP." (Image courtesy of New Riders Publishing,
References in periodicals archive ?
It first appears, absent explanation (not unusual for science fiction), on page 22 in an odd sentence fragment, "Back even before the healing which had followed his first grokking of the fact that he was not as his nestling brothers .
Therefore, it would seem to make sense for children to learn grokking in school and perhaps for adults to demonstrate their grokking capabilities in real grokduels before live audiences.