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a sequence of characters used to gain access to a computer system
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



an established secret word.

In the Soviet armed forces, passwords for each day are established by the garrison commandant for garrison guards on guard duty. The chief of staff of a unit establishes passwords for internal, or unit, guard duty. The password certifies that the guard detail that has arrived as a relief was actually assigned for the purpose or that a person who has arrived with an order has been authorized to do so by the appropriate commander. All persons who know the password must keep it secret. In the Russian Army until the Field Regulations of 1912 were published, passwords were used not only on guard duty but also on outguard duty. Various organizations also use passwords for security purposes. A secret password with a set reply may also be used for identification.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


(computer science)
A unique word or string of characters that must be supplied to meet security requirements before a program, computer operator, or user can gain access to data.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


Open, Sesame!
formula that opened the door to the robbers’ cave. [Arab. Lit.: Arabian Nights]
by its pronunciation the Gileadites could identify Ephraimite fugitives. [O. T.: Judges 12:4-6]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


An arbitrary string of characters chosen by a user or system administrator and used to authenticate the user when he attempts to log on, in order to prevent unauthorised access to his account.

A favourite activity among unimaginative computer nerds and crackers is writing programs which attempt to discover passwords by using lists of commonly chosen passwords such as people's names (spelled forward or backward). It is recommended that to defeat such methods passwords use a mixture of upper and lower case letters or digits and avoid proper names and real words. If you have trouble remembering random strings of characters, make up an acronym like "ihGr8trmP" ("I have great trouble remembering my password").
This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (


A secret word or code used to serve as a security measure against unauthorized access to data. It may be used to log onto a computer, mobile device, network or website or to activate newly installed software in the computer. However, without additional measures such as biometric identification, the computer can only verify the legitimacy of the password, not the legitimacy of the user (see biometrics).

Password Synonyms
"Passphrase," "passcode" and "PIN" are synonymous terms for this type of identity mechanism. A "key" is sometimes used as a synonym for password; however, this usually refers to a code generated to encrypt and decrypt messages or to unlock software. See PIN, one-time password, password manager, public key cryptography, password spraying and NCSC.

Password Tips from the NCSC

The following six password safety tips are from the U.S. National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC):

1. CHANGE PASSWORD FREQUENTLY - The longer you use a password, the higher the risk.

2. USE GOOD PASSWORDS - Do not use persons, places or things that can be identified with you.

3. DON'T DISCLOSE YOUR PASSWORD - Your password is as valuable as the information it protects.

4. INSPECT YOUR DATA - If you suspect someone has tampered with your files, report it immediately.

5. NEVER LEAVE AN ACTIVE TERMINAL UNATTENDED - Always log out or lock your terminal before leaving it.

6. REPORT SUSPECTED COMPUTER ABUSE - Whether directed against you or not, abuse or misuse of your computer resources only hinders the timely completion of your tasks.

Check Your Password Strength
Go to and type in your password to find out just how secure it is.
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 ?
"Accountability is the watchword in fundraising, since the most important asset of a fundraiser is trust," Dr.
Value for money is the watchword since the winery has been around a long time.
But even a man for whom patience is a watchword has his limits.
Their watchword was the famous exclamation by Commodore Vanderbilt: "The public be damned."
Leonard Cassuto announces frankly in the "Exordium" that his book is in part an answer to Toni Morrison's call for literary critics to study the ways in which "blackness participates in the creation of difference and the self-definition of whiteness." His particular focus is on "racial objectification" as a relatively constant feature of American literature and culture, "the effort, exerted across American history, to try to imagine other people as nonhuman." To this undertaking, in which he participates with the other scholars just mentioned, and many others too, and which might seem fairly familiar to those for whom "the Other" has now been a critical watchword for some time, Cassuto brings several noteworthy and different approaches that deserve attention.
Unless the gentle watchword, "Listen!" becomes an arresting command, we may not halt in time the stampede of humanity in its pursuit of the enchanting tootling of the Pied Piper of Doom.
Versatility became the watchword for Discas' recycling and compounding equipment.
The new watchword for educators and trainers alike is distance learning.
"Never again" is the watchword of those who survived that maelstrom and who have risen to become today's senior officers.
Then religious sectarianism becomes the watchword, and at the extreme end of the spectrum unwitting slaves to gurus commit murder or suicide at their behest.