Great IT Words: #158 from Jeff the Security Expert: Munge

Playing Scrabble at a family function over the holidays, I was thrilled to stump the unread, untechno rabble with this word: Munge. They didn't believe me until I fired up my faithful online IT dictionary and read them the definition. I think it's also onomatopoeic. (Feel free to look that one up yourself—or ask your local eighth grader.)

Munge: The term munging probably derives from the acronym mung (pronounced just as it looks), which stands for "mash until no good." It may also derive from the hackers' slang term munge (pronounced MUHNJ), which means "to alter information so it is no longer accurate."

munge: /muhnj/, vt.
1. \[derogatory\] To imperfectly transform information.
2. A comprehensive rewrite of a routine, data structure or the whole program.
3. To modify data in some way the speaker doesn't need to go into right now or cannot describe succinctly (compare mumble).
4. To add spamblock to an email address.
This term is often confused with mung, which probably was derived from it. However, it also appears the word munge was in common use in Scotland in the 1940s, and in Yorkshire in the 1950s, as a verb, meaning to munch up into a masticated mess, and as a noun, meaning the result of munging something up (the parallel with the kluge/kludge pair is amusing). The OED reports “munge” as an archaic verb meaning “to wipe (a person's nose).”

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