The curious origin of the phrase ‘dongle’


Dongles have change into a pervasive side of our existence. 

New iPhone customers who refuse to desert the headphone jack are frequent dongle customers. Dongle streaming gadgets are recurrently employed in our houses, drooping from the tv. Even Google is making extra dongles now, to accompany its new Pixel 2 telephones. 

Sure, Google, which earlier this week declared its huge, all-in dedication to growing gadgets that make use of refined AI know-how, can also be within the dongle-making enterprise (it was already making Chromecasts).

As we settle right into a dongle-filled society, it is an applicable second to ponder the origin of such a foolish phrase getting used to explain a tool with a purely technical objective. Merely put, a dongle provides performance to a different system. 

Nevertheless, the phrase "dongle" is just not new. If first appeared in print in New Scientist, in 1981:

"The dongle is an additional piece of reminiscence that's plugged into the pc, with out which this system refuses to run."

Solely later did it change into popularized and maybe regarded as new, which is typical.

"What you discover is most phrases that you just consider as new, aren’t new," Sarah Ogilvie, a linguist and lexicographer at Stanford College, instructed Mashable. "A whole lot of new phrases have a lot older histories than you'd have thought."

However what transpired some 40 years in the past to create such a curious new phrase?

"As for its precise origin, I feel it is only a playful alteration of 'dangle'," lexicographer and "all-around phrase nut" Ben Zimmer instructed Mashable.

This rationalization looks as if a believable reply, as dongles typically do dangle. It is also conceivable that "dongle" derived from "dong," which additionally naturally dangles. 

"Whether or not the phallic suggestion of 'dong' was within the minds of the phrase's creators and early adopters, I can not say, but it surely's very attainable," defined Zimmer.

Ogilvie is not offered on any specific idea — simply but. "All theories are as believable as each other. It is onerous to know," she stated. 

Ogilvie, nevertheless, believes there is a good lead: the Commodore PET laptop. This archaic machine was one of many earliest private computer systems, launched in 1977, and it accepted a dongle-like system to provide it extra reminiscence. Maybe an early Commodore developer would possibly be capable to make clear who first named the dongle. 

The corporate is now defunct, however Mashable will replace this story if we will discover any early Commodore builders.

Does the 1977 Commodore PET Personal Computer hold the secret to the origin of the dongle?

Does the 1977 Commodore PET Private Laptop maintain the key to the origin of the dongle?

Picture: Wikimedia

There may be one certainty concerning the phrase "dongle": its that means has expanded within the final 4 a long time. Linguists have an outstanding time period for this, "semantic broadening." After its semantic broadening, "dongle" now has a "normal that means of something that plugs into a pc that gives further performance," Ogilvie stated.

Whereas it is typical for phrases to vary in that means and scope over time, "dongle" has skilled semantic broadening at an accelerated tempo. In keeping with Ogilvie, 1,000 years in the past the phrase "hen" (Outdated English) referred solely to younger birds. It took centuries for the that means to embody "all birds."

Dongle, in the meantime, noticed its that means broadened in just some a long time time. The place will it go subsequent?

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