Coding Jargon: Terms to Know for Programming

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Updated September 13, 2022

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Does coding jargon leave you feeling lost? Learn the definitions of 100 key terms programmers need to know.

Are you ready to discover your college program?

Two people coding on a laptop in an office Credit: Maskot / Maskot / Getty Images

Whether you want to learn about coding or are already enrolled in a coding bootcamp, encountering new terms can be challenging. Understanding coding jargon is essential to growing your programming knowledge and skills.

The glossary below includes words and phrases that form the foundation of programming terms. It serves as a helpful reference and practical guide as you get to know the ins and outs of coding jargon.

Types of Coding Jargon

These terms to know for programming include words and phrases from several broad categories. Programming languages, databases, libraries, and frameworks accompany core programming concepts and components.

Additional key terms include operating systems, specific coding processes, and general concepts that apply to computer technology overall.

Glossary of Terms to Know for Programming

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | R | S | T | U | V | W | X

A

Active Record: The interface between a database and logic code. It takes data from databases, classifies it, and creates tables; common in Ruby on Rails

Algorithm: Rules or instructions written instruct a computer how to solve a problem

Angular.js: An open-source set of tools to build a Java-Script framework to develop single-page applications; a workaround to make HTML more dynamic.

Application Programming Interface (API): The software intermediary for two or more computer programs communicating with each other

Array: A data structure that can store a similar collection of elements


B

Back End: The server side of web development that focuses on parts of the website users do not see, such as website architecture, scripting, and databases

Binary: Having only two components; information represented using only two options (often 0 and 1)

Block: A section of code

Bug: An error in code that keeps a program from functioning

Build: To convert source code to a standalone form executed on a computer

Byte: Unit of digital data storage measuring 8-bits


C

C++: A high-level programming language often used to in game development

Call: A variable in a program or a piece of code

Char: An abbreviation for character often used in programming languages

Class: A template used to create and define data structures or objects; common in Java and object-oriented programming

Client-Side: The operations in a web application that take place on the client end of a client-server structure

Code Review: the stage where people check a program by viewing and reading its source code; vetting code to ensure it works and follows proper syntax

Command: An instruction given to a computer

Compiler: A program that translates computer code from one programming language to another language or code

Constant: A value that does not change during the execution of a program

CSS: Acronym for Cascading Style Sheet, a stylesheet language that helps format HTML webpages


D

Data: Information stored on or processed by a computer

Database: A collection or set of data used for access, management, and updates

Data Structures: The format used to organize, manage, and store data

Debugging: Finding and eliminating errors in code

Decompose: To break down a problem into smaller problems

Domain Name Service (DNS): The naming system used to identify computers reachable on the internet using IP addresses

DRY: Acronym for the software principle "don't repeat yourself" that emphasizes efficient and easy code

Dynamic Language: A programming language that verifies and enforces constraints at runtime, instead of beforehand, such as Ruby and Python


E

Else Statement: An alternative statement in programming languages executed if the result of a previous test condition is not satisfied

Event: An action identified by a program that leads to something happening related to system hardware or software

Exception: An unplanned event that disrupts the normal flow of the program


F

Flowchart: A diagram representing an algorithm or a program

Flask: A web application written in Python source code

For Loops: An instruction to iterate a block of code a set amount of times, as declared by the programmer or the computer

Framework: A pre-packaged set of components and solutions to expedite software development

Front End: The user side of web development that focuses on appearance and functionality

Function: a group of instructions combined into a single line of code that carries out an self-contained task


G

Git: An open-source code management and version control system

GitHub: A website and cloud-based service where developers store, manage, and share code


H

Hardcode: Code that includes fixed data; a hardcode can not be altered unless a programmer changes the source code itself

High-Level Language: A problem-oriented programming language with English-like statements and symbols

HTML: Acronym for HyperText Markup Language, the standard language for creating documents displayed via web browsers


I

Identifier: User-defined program names

Infinite Loops: Coding that lacks a functional exit or ending condition and repeats indefinitely

Input: Data entered into a program to be processed

Integrated Development Environment (IDE): Software used to build applications that combines basic programming tools to consolidate aspects of program writing

Iteration: Each time there is execution of program instructions


J

Java: Object-oriented programming language and computing platform used for developing web applications

JavaScript: A client-side, object-oriented programming language used to create interactive effects in web applications

jQuery: A library of JavaScript code


K

Keyword: A term used in programming that has a predefined meaning and reserved use


L

Library: A collection of resources for computer programs and software development including prewritten code

Linux: A customizable open-source operating system that relays requests from computer software to computer hardware

Local Environment: A coding environment where the user runs a website from their machine rather than one provided by a web host

Loop (see also For Loops, Infinite Loops, While Loops): A sequence of instructions repeated until an specific outcome or condition is met

Low-Level Language: A programming language that uses numbers and machine-like language


M

Machine Language: A low-level programming language that includes binary digits or bits understood by the computer

Machine Learning: A type of artificial intelligence that uses data and algorithms to enable systems to learn and predict outcomes without being programmed specifically for the task

MySQL: An open-source database management system with data and code to create software applications


N

Nested: A code contained within other code that serves a specific function

Node.js: An open-source back-end JavaScript run-time environment used to build network applications equipped to handle increased use and load

Null: A keyword or character indicating something has zero value or that the value is unknown, or the absence of data


O

Object: Sections of data or code developed to write a program

Object Oriented Programming (OOP): Programming that focuses on using objects to write programs rather than functions and logic

Operating System (OS): Software that controls how a computer functions

Output: Processed data or data generated by a computer


P

Package: Also called namespaces, used to identify related classes and interfaces

Packets: A formatted group of data transferred over a computer network

Pair Programming: An agile software development technique that unites two programmers at one workstation to simultaneously write and review each line of code

PHP: A general-purpose scripting language used to create websites and applications that takes data and presents it on a webpage

Pixel: The smallest display element of an electronic screen or bitmap image

Python: A general-purpose, dynamic programming language that emphasizes readability


R

R: A programming language for statistical computing and graphics

React: An open-source JavaScript library with resources that focus on building user interfaces

Ruby: An general-purpose programming language that emphasizes programming productivity and simplicity

Ruby on Rails: A full-stack framework equipped with the tools to build front- and back-end web applications


S

Scripting Language: A type of programming language without a compilation step.

Scripts: A program or sequence of instructions that other software interprets or carries out

Server: The computer program or device that send data to a network, another computer, and to users

Server-Side: Functions that happen on the server end of a program or operation

Source Code: A list of instructions written by a programmer in a programming language humans can read; a program in its original pre-translation programming language

Sprint: A period of time in which to finish a task

Structured Query Language (SQL): A standardized programming language used to store, manage, and retrieve data in databases

Stack: A structure of elements that operates on the last-in, first-out programming principle

Static Language: A programming language that verifies and enforces type constraints at compile time, such as C++, C, and Java

String: An open-source application framework with infrastructure support to create Java applications

Syntax: Rules that define the structure of a language


T

Terminal: The text-based interface to a computer where a user can type commands, execute programs, and open files

Testing: The process of running software to evaluate and verify it functions properly

Token: A single element of a programming language; tokens include constants, identifiers, operators, separators, and reserved words

Training: The process of creating a machine-learning model by developing a machine-learning algorithm and providing it appropriate data


U

Universal Resource Locator (URL): A reference to the address used to locate a resource on the internet

Usability Testing: Evaluating a program or product by testing it on users

User Experience Design (UX): The process of creating products optimal for end users, including interfaces, components, and overall interaction

User Interface Design (UI): The process of building interfaces based on style, look, feel, and interactivity


V

Variable: A symbol that serves as a placeholder for a quantity that may change; also a name for an unknown quantity

Version Control: The practices of tracking and managing changes to software


W

WET: An acronym for "write everything twice," the antithesis to the DRY principle

Whiteboarding: Writing code on a whiteboard, often part of technical interviews and group projects

While Loops: Instructions to execute a set of statements as long as a condition is true


X

Xcode: Apple's integrated environment used for developing software for their products

XML: An acronym for extensible markup language, a simple text-based language and file format for storing, transmitting, and reconstructing data

Get Started in Programming

Common Questions About Programming

Is programming difficult?

Programming is not difficult, it just takes time to learn. By learning programming languages, syntax, and usage, programming can be a fun and useful skill.

What are some basic coding terms to be familiar with?

Some basic coding terms to be familiar with are languages programmers use, like Python and JavaScript. Core concepts such as algorithms, databases, and scripts are also important to know.

How do I start learning programming?

To learn programming, visit resources online, consider taking a class, or find a book that covers aspects of coding and programming. Websites for Python and JavaScript have libraries and communities to give you access.

What programming language should I start with?

The programming language you should start with depends on what kind of programming you want to do. General-purpose languages can create various programs and applications, while a language HTML is useful only in web development.

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Portrait of Darnell Kenebrew

Darnell Kenebrew

Darnell Kenebrew is a first-generation graduate from San Francisco State University's class of 2020. He graduated with a bachelor's in computer science, which helped him kick off a career in tech and pursue roles within data and engineering.

Currently, he's a data analytics engineer at Meta and an executive captain for COOP Careers — a nonprofit for overcoming underemployment. Kenebrew strongly believes in giving people a chance and that everyone should have an equal opportunity within the job market. He believes that COOP Careers helps this equality materialize.

Kenebrew is passionate about how the industry is shaped with data and how data can be leveraged in many aspects of business decisions to meet goals. In addition, he's passionate about inclusion, community, education, and using data for good. He hopes that he can pivot business decisions to make a positive, meaningful impact and that his work will positively impact end-users, as well as meet business goals.

Darnell Kenebrew is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education Integrity Network.

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