The curious origin of the phrase ‘dongle’

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The curious origin of the word 'dongle'

Dongles have turn into a pervasive side of our existence. 

New iPhone customers who refuse to desert the headphone jack are frequent dongle customers. Dongle streaming units are often 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 large, all-in dedication to growing units that make use of refined AI expertise, 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 acceptable second to ponder the origin of such a foolish phrase getting used to explain a tool with a purely technical goal. Merely put, a dongle provides performance to a different gadget. 

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 turn into popularized and maybe considered 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’ll have thought.”

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

“As for its precise origin, I believe it is only a playful alteration of ‘dangle’,” lexicographer and “all-around phrase nut” Ben Zimmer instructed Mashable.

This clarification looks as if a believable reply, as dongles usually 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’t say, however it’s very doable,” defined Zimmer.

Ogilvie is not offered on any specific idea — simply but. “All theories are as plauiable as each other. It is laborious to know,” she mentioned. 

Ogilvie, nonetheless, believes there is a good lead: the Commodore PET pc. This archaic machine was one of many earliest private computer systems, launched in 1977, and it accepted a dongle-like gadget to present it extra reminiscence. Maybe an early Commodore developer would possibly be capable of 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 Private Pc maintain the key to the origin of the dongle?

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

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 line with Ogilvie, 1,000 years in the past the phrase “hen” (Outdated English) referred completely to younger birds. It took centuries for the that means to embody “all birds.”

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

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