Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word


noun [uncountable]

bring your own device: the policy of allowing employees or students to bring their own computing devices to work, college etc and use them on the organization's network

'Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) has emerged as an institution in corporate America today – but does the acronym stand for bring your own device or bring your own disaster? Surveys show that up to 90 percent of corporations use some form of BYOD, but that up to 80 percent of BYOD activity is "inadequately" managed by IT departments.'

SC Magazine 2nd January 2013

Imagine a situation in which you can switch seamlessly between work and play, carrying a single computing device which gives you access to your favourite games and music, as well as to an office or school network where you can see and use business email, professional documents, schedules, learning materials, homework, etc. This is the principle behind an increasingly popular concept now known as BYOD.

from an employee perspective, use of personal devices may be more convenient and user-friendly, thus enhancing employee morale and productivity

BYOD is an abbreviation for bring your own device, and refers to the idea of people bringing their personally-owned computing devices, such as laptops, tablets or smartphones, for use at their place of work. Though it commonly refers to employees bringing along their own devices to the office in order to access corporate networks and business data etc, the term is also used in academic environments when institutions allow students to use their own mobile devices to access school and college networks.

On the face of it, the principle of BYOD has many positive aspects. It can be advantageous for businesses because it saves money on the purchase of computing equipment and removes the need for extensive IT support, therefore allowing companies to concentrate on broader issues. Employees are also thought to take better care of devices that are their own property, and use of independently owned equipment may mean that a company can take advantage of new technology more quickly.

From an employee perspective, use of personal devices may be more convenient and user-friendly, thus enhancing employee morale and productivity, and making the company look like a flexible, attractive employer.

However on the negative side, the main problem with BYOD is its potential to pose a significant threat to security. For instance, by allowing workers to connect to an office database via their own smartphone or tablet, companies lose the ability to regulate their system, and could run the risk of infected devices contaminating the network. Further, if an employee uses a device to access the company network and then loses it, any unsecured data stored there could potentially end up in the wrong hands. In early 2013, research by Virgin Media Business revealed that in 2012 more than half of the UK's secure IT networks were breached because of employees bringing their own devices to work.

Background – BYOD

The expression BYOD first began to appear in early 2011, when US multinationals Unisys Corporation and Citrix Inc, an IT services provider and software company respectively, identified this policy as an emerging trend. The alternative initialisms BYOC (bring your own computer), BYOP (bring your own phone) and BYOPC (bring your own PC (=personal computer)) are also sometimes used to refer to similar concepts, and in linguistic terms could be thought of as hyponyms (=specific examples) of BYOD. These variations are not exclusive to work contexts however, the abbreviation BYOC for example sometimes used when gamers bring their own computers to hook up to a network and take part in a multiplayer gaming event.

Fears about the security risks of BYOD have spawned various examples of word play, alternatively expounding the expression as a short form of bring your own disaster/danger/damage.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

Last week …

Read last week's BuzzWord. Fracking.

This article was first published on 22nd January 2013.

Open Dictionary


a form of location that involves the underwater detonation of a bomb which causes sound waves that are picked up by ships

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog