Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Glitch

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is glitch. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

glitch is a usually minor malfunction or a problem that causes a temporary setback.

// The email went out to everyone in the company because of a technical glitch.

GLITCH in Context

“The weekend’s exercise, which NASA calls a wet dress rehearsal, is the last major test before the rocket is launched on its first uncrewed test flight, which could occur as soon as this summer. By simulating a countdown without the excitement of engines igniting and a rocket rising to space, NASA hoped to work out glitches with equipment and procedures.” — Kenneth Chang, The New York Times, 4 Apr. 2022

Did You Know?

There’s a glitch in the etymology of glitch—it may come from the Yiddish glitsh, meaning “slippery place,” but that’s not certain. Print use of glitch referring to a brief unexpected surge of electrical current dates to the mid-20th century. Astronaut John Glenn, in his 1962 book Into Orbit, felt the need to explain the term to his readers: “Literally, a glitch is a spike or change in voltage in an electrical circuit which takes place when the circuit suddenly has a new load put on it.” Today, the word can be used of any minor malfunction or snag. If you’re a gamer you might even take advantage of a glitch that causes something unexpected, and sometimes beneficial, to happen in the game.

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