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bogotify

verb [transitive]

to change or affect something so that it becomes useless or incorrect

there's an everyday analogy with a nut and bolt: if you tighten a nut too hard, you'll strip the threads, so the bolt has become bogotified and is no longer usable

The verb bogotify originates in computer programming. A computer program that has been changed so many times that it has become completely disorganized, and is therefore useless, has become bogotified. There's an everyday analogy with a nut and bolt: if you tighten a nut too hard, you'll strip the threads on the bolt, so the bolt has become bogotified and is no longer usable.

Background – bogotify

The root of the verb derives from the adjective bogus, used in computing terminology to mean 'useless or non-functional', e.g. a bogus program, or 'incorrect', e.g. That algorithm is bogus. It can also mean 'unbelievable', e.g. … you claim to have solved the halting problem for Turing machines? That's totally bogus! Bogosity is a noun derivative, meaning 'the degree to which something is bogus'.

These senses of bogus originated at Princeton University in the United States in the late sixties, spreading throughout the computing community, and coming into general use in both America and Britain by the mid-eighties. British prescriptivists have continued to reject these newer senses, and many British English dictionaries still largely focus on the 'counterfeit' or 'not genuine' meaning of bogus, as in a bogus insurance claim or a bogus £5 note. In fact, this sense of bogus also originated in the US. It was first used in the eighteenth century, when it was associated with a machine for making counterfeit money.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

This article was first published on 24th February 2003.

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