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1. a dry spasmodic cough
2. a kick on the shins, as in rugby


1. a horse kept for riding or (more rarely) for driving
2. an old, ill-bred, or overworked horse
3. a horse kept for hire
4. Brit a country ride on horseback
5. US a coach or carriage that is for hire
6. US informal
a. a cab driver
b. a taxi


a board on which meat is placed for a hawk
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


1. Originally, a quick job that produces what is needed, but not well.

2. An incredibly good, and perhaps very time-consuming, piece of work that produces exactly what is needed.

3. To bear emotionally or physically. "I can't hack this heat!"

4. To work on something (typically a program). In an immediate sense: "What are you doing?" "I'm hacking TECO." In a general (time-extended) sense: "What do you do around here?" "I hack TECO." More generally, "I hack "foo"" is roughly equivalent to ""foo" is my major interest (or project)". "I hack solid-state physics." See Hacking X for Y.

5. To pull a prank on. See hacker.

6. To interact with a computer in a playful and exploratory rather than goal-directed way. "Whatcha up to?" "Oh, just hacking."

7. Short for hacker.

8. See nethack.

9. (MIT) To explore the basements, roof ledges, and steam tunnels of a large, institutional building, to the dismay of Physical Plant workers and (since this is usually performed at educational institutions) the Campus Police. This activity has been found to be eerily similar to playing adventure games such as Dungeons and Dragons and Zork. See also vadding.

See also neat hack, real hack.
This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (foldoc.org)


As a noun, a hack is the source code of a program. For example, the phrase "it must be done through a hack" means someone has to write programming code to solve the problem because there is no pre-written software that does the job.

As a verb, hack refers to writing a small program or adding code to an existing program to solve a problem in a hurry. A hack used to imply a low-level programming language, even deploying a fix in machine language (see patch). However, the term evolved, and today it can refer to code in any computer language. See machine language.

You're Not Supposed To!
A hack may refer to an enhancement made to an electronic device that was not designed to be user programmable, such as a video game, music player, TV set-top box or cellphone. For example, a digital media hub (media extender) could be modified to play additional formats.

Hardware modifications are done by the experienced hacker, which may require opening the case and using tools such as a screwdriver, wire strippers and soldering iron. For example, to make the first AT&T iPhones work in another network, an early hack required applying voltage to a line on its circuit board. It meant scraping the surface of a single wire trace without breaking the line and soldering a wire to it; a very delicate operation. Subsequent methods using a software hack to unlock iPhones were less extreme.

"Hacked" Means a Harmful Hack
"Getting hacked" has another connotation. Although the original meaning of hack is program code that was modified, the popular definition is an illegal modification that causes a computer or online account to be compromised.

A lesser known meaning of the term is that a hack is a harmless practical joke, but one that takes a bit of technical prowess or careful planning. See attack, hacker and hackathon.

Geek Humor
From "The Best of The Joy of Tech" cartoon book by Nitrozac and Snaggy (O'Reilly Media, Inc., 2003). (Image courtesy of GeekCulture, www.geekculture.com)

Hacks Galore
The term is often used to refer to any tip or technique for improving performance or configuring hardware or software; witness these titles from O'Reilly Media, Inc.

Hack Everything!
"The Big Book of Hacks" offers imaginative hacks from turning an old netbook into a tablet to boosting Wi-Fi with a vegetable steamer. Also included are how to make fridge magnets from a hard drive and a dipole antenna from a closet hanger. See life hack.

Copyright © 1981-2019 by The Computer Language Company Inc. All Rights reserved. THIS DEFINITION IS FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY. All other reproduction is strictly prohibited without permission from the publisher.
References in periodicals archive ?
There is then another riposte to Pope, compatible with Hammond's and completing it, which would maintain that much (though not all) of the work the Scriblerians dismissed as hackery was equipped with a theory of cultural legitimation just as ambitious as that which Pope claimed for his own work.
The words and phrases in that collection of hackery are not properly identified as cliches.
Useless hackery: Developing a prototype, documenting the final design, but failing to document what was learned in the process, for example, design rationale, unresolved design issues, or ideas that didn't work.
"Monty" is a thoroughly professional, cleverly written and sharply performed piece of mainline television hackery. If it evolves to turn its ideological protagonist into just another doltish sitcom dad, then it may perform a service by dissipating a potentially dangerous heat source in the culture.
He said it seemed accountability seated on hackery was chasing corruption which was flying in plane.
Definition from the Dictionary of Hackery? 'A misprint, typesetting error, mistake or slip of the pen'.
The other view is put best by Examiner Head Of News Neil Atkinson: "Clichs should be avoided like the plague" he likes to say, as he strikes a piece of hackneyed hackery from a reporter's copy.
In the clip, Stewart is not using humor to reveal deeper truths, like a Shakespearean fool; he is using humor to deflect and duck ripostes to his arguments, which he cares about, even as he denies the very existence of arguments of his own, while still hoping that those arguments, about the destructiveness of political hackery and the media-industrial complex, carry the day.
The gravel pit, on Hackery Road, covers 24.3 acres and is used mainly for sand to put on slick roads in winter.
Nevertheless, we, the hackery, were keen to hear Gerald's opinion of his wander round a bend.
Bluejersey.com, a pro-Democratic site, has posted items criticizing the Press for "partisan hackery," saying if the paper's "editorial board were any more transparent, they'd have to report their work as in-kind campaign contributions to the state GOP."
I, of course, have meanwhile pursued a career through the highways and byways of hackery. What of the guy who got to play Macbeth?