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EDIT: I appreciate all the answers and the effort provided here, but my question is not about the meaning about the word in English, but about the genesis of the word in computer graphics—I linked myself to the Wikipedia article, so I know it comes from the Greek fairy, but why?

I know what sprites are and how to use them. This question is purely linguistic.

I would be interested to know where the word sprite (as in computer graphics) comes from. English is not my mother tongue, and the word as such doesn't ring a bell for me...

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migrated from programmers.stackexchange.com Jul 25 '11 at 8:39

This question came from our site for professional programmers interested in conceptual questions about software development.

3 Answers

" The term "sprite", a Greek fairy, was coined by one of the definers of the Texas Instruments 9918(A) video display processor (VDP)"

See wikipedia for further information.

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I guess the reason to use the term "sprite" (ghost) for these graphics is that in general the graphic will be (partially) transparent and it will not disturb the background when being moved.

Both features were quite new at the time.

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Also that it could be moved just by changing the X, Y coordinates. –  KitFox Jul 25 '11 at 12:13
    
Nice reference! But I don't see what a ghost has to do with X and Y ;) –  Erno Jul 25 '11 at 13:04
    
because it moves around on the screen with ease and grace and it follows your command, just like a fairy sprite! –  KitFox Jul 25 '11 at 13:56
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"Sprite" has connotations of brightness and quick movement, which I guess were apposite for the namers.

But to some degree, the answer is "because they needed a word and that one was available".

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