(redirected from hackery)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal.


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


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.


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.

This level of modification is done by the serious hacker, who first has to find a way to expose the software. It 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 used 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, ISBN 0-596-00578-4). (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.
References in periodicals archive ?
We let Stewart get away with that staggering and blatant hypocrisy because there was a close presidential election a few days away, and because Carlson was a smug asshole (Stewart's greatest talent is his choosing of enemies), and because, during a time of right-wing dominance, Stewart's attack on the partisan hackery of both sides was, as the Leninists would say, objectively usefulpro-Democratic in effect, and very likely in intent, too.
I can't speak for the rest, but it's odd how Joe Public's suspicion of the world of hackery seems to be put aside when someone needs a little publicity for a charity event or the book they've finally written about their fascinating Black Country childhood (self-published), or to track down classmates for a school reunion, or a plug for the new shop they've just opened, or if one of the potatoes they've just dug up on their allotment bears an uncanny resemblance to the face of Hitler.
From his days as Festival Bumper winner followed by his second Cheltenham appearance when winning the Sun Alliance Chase, poor old Florida Pearl has been lumbered with the Black Spot of tabloid hackery that he may be the second Arkle.
All I can say is that I once knew Powell well (we learned the hackery trade together) and I can't believe he'd make such a yarn up.
The 2002 version of his great novel is hackery of a different stripe, barnacled with cliche and empty of wit.
I am told you can get in every sort of trouble imaginable in Galway of an evening and, purely in the interests of investigative hackery, I feel I must go and road-test the place.
The usual red herrings, false suspects, deserted dark rooms etc but the constant Hitchcock references just underline what hackery it is.
But they're watered down for the popcorn brigade for whom plot just gets in the way of the explosions leaving director Roger Spotiswoode (who I'm sure you don't need reminding gave the world Stop, Or My Mom Will Shoot) to get on with his usual hackery.