I'm seeking a more professional replacement for the word "home made". I'm writing my dissertation and I want to explain how I first used a home made code to simulate my project, as apposed to using a built in toolbox that comes with a professional program (which I use later).

I cant use the words "custom" or "bespoke", as the toolbox is extremely flexible and can be used to create custom and bespoke simulations (which is the reason I end up using it over my original code), so I don't want to cause confusion by using these words.

I basically just want a word that distinguishes the difference between a simulation I made myself from scratch, and a simulation made using a professional program.

  • 2
    Home grown (or custom) vs off the shelf. – Elliott Frisch May 13 '14 at 12:49
  • Thanks for your comment. Would you say Home grown is formal enough for a dissertation though? When I hear home made / home grown, I think of an unprofessional attempt at something. Really all software is "home made" as it is made by someone at some point, its not always just existed. The only difference between my "home made" code, and the program I ended up using anyway, is that the program is bought "off the shelf" as you say. I cant use the word custom for my code, because the program can create "more custom" simulations than my code code could. (my code introduced to many constraints). – Blue7 May 13 '14 at 13:00
  • It's an industry standard term, so I believe so. COTS vs "non-commercial" or "home grown". – Elliott Frisch May 13 '14 at 13:03
  • I have seen (and actually used) "in-house" script/code/tool in several formal descriptions of data analysis pipelines to represent proprietary own developments of companies. – skymningen May 13 '14 at 13:13
  • 2
    Just as a side note (because I'm a pedant and so are the people who mark dissertations, by and large!), "as apposed to using" is not conceptually correct, as 'apposed' would mean next to one another (almost but not quite synonymous) whereas you really mean 'opposed', i.e. diametrically opposite. – Steve Pettifer May 13 '14 at 14:22

10 Answers 10


I would say "I authored custom source code to simulate…"


I would use self-written, as in self-written program or self-written software.

I wouldn't use 'code' in a formal situation as it is an ambiguous abbreviation of any of source-code, machine-code, assembler-code, p-code or many other software related constructions.

  • There are a lot of good answers here, but this one is my favorite. Thanks! – Blue7 May 13 '14 at 14:04
  • 3
    Also consider "my own simulation program" - this avoids the potential confusion that the program or the software wrote itself. – francis May 13 '14 at 14:10
  • ... or 'my personal' – Edwin Ashworth May 13 '14 at 14:59

Consider amateur.

amateur: characteristic of or engaged in by an amateur; nonprofessional.

  • +1 Not an industry standard term, but seems to fit OP's request. – Elliott Frisch May 13 '14 at 13:04
  • @ElliottFrisch Would "artisanal" be a better fit? – Elian May 13 '14 at 13:23
  • I don't believe so, in this context. – Elliott Frisch May 13 '14 at 13:50
  • 6
    I don't think it's a good idea to refer to the dissertation work as "unprofessional" or "amateur", that sounds extremely negative. – francis May 13 '14 at 14:11
  • 1
    @Elian artisanal make me think of a farmers´ market rather than a dissertation. Makes me hungry, as well... – yankeekilo May 13 '14 at 15:55

I think the situation depends. Just yesterday I was told that I have a new boss (I never really report to anyone so I get passed around the company - 12 bosses in last 8 years). The new boss asked what I had using MySQL. I responded, "I have about 20 sites. About half are WP and the other are home made apps." I think in this circumstance it is formal because the business is the home.

Now does it translate to being formal when one programmer creates their own code. Being in the business I would be perfectly fine with it. And if I heard something too formal I might cringe at the buzz-wordiness. I have used custom-authored code/script before and it might fit your case if you don't want to use home made.

I wrote a custom-authored calendar app to keep track of when my dog needs to go outside.

But to me, this sounds just as good/formal...

I wrote a home made calendar app to keep track of when my dog needs to go outside.


I think hand-crafted applies to beer and caramels, which can be paired together very nicely. It's a thing.

Seriously, I would go with the person who suggested using "authored." It definitely shows ownership, which seems to be the goal you're looking to communicate.


I would suggest "manually built," which in computer environments usually denotes something made without the usual, expected, or available software.

Because you can use all kinds of tools (e.g. hammers, electronic sewing machines) and still produce handmade goods, that's less clear if you're trying to express that you didn't use a particular tool to make it. Software is a tool that frequently leaves a lot of work left for the creator, so there's no reason not to claim credit for a creation that you used software to build. As a result, most terms that might indicate a product is homemade, handmade, or noncommercial, still don't make it clear that the software tools were skipped.


I would use

(original) handwritten code

  • 3
    "Handwritten" sounds pretentious. Did you write it out on artisanal paper with handmade ink, using a quill pen? No, you probably did very little on paper (with a Bic pen), and mostly worked at the keyboard. If you want to emphasize that you did the work yourself, "self-written" would cover that. – Phil Perry May 13 '14 at 16:44
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    @PhilPerry, I tend to operate my keyboard with my hands. What do you use? No, wait... don't tell me. I don't think I want to know. – tobyink May 13 '14 at 18:33
  • Er, mouthstick because I'm a quadriplegic? Anyway, "handwritten" in the same sentence as "computer program" does not compute. – Phil Perry May 13 '14 at 20:28

Given that it's for a dissertation, I think you want to make it very clear what you actually did yourself. Words like "hand-written/crafted", "manually built", "custom", "bespoke", etc do not do that, for me. "In-house" only works if it's already very clear that you're working on your own (and thus the only person in the "house").

I actually think your own "home made" is the best suggestion so far. But my advice would be that in the context of a dissertation you shouldn't be looking for short-cuts. Give your piece of software a name "XXXX" so you can refer back to it, and introduce it saying something really explicit like "Initially I created a simple program called 'XXXX', from scratch...". You could then use "home made" later on if, when referring back to 'XXXX', you want to stress (or remind the reader of) the fact that you wrote it yourself.


On a more humorous note, how about artisan(al) code/software, perhaps implying the incorporation of electrons recycled from used coffee grounds, sandals and brown rice...

  • 1
    100% sustainably harvested organic cruelty-free software! – Phil Perry May 13 '14 at 20:29
  • @PhilPerry - Great minds, Phil... :-) – Erik Kowal May 13 '14 at 20:51

I suggest "hand crafted" which adds an artisan flair if that fits the item.

  • Seems a bit odd to refer to computer code as being crafted, though. – Janus Bahs Jacquet May 13 '14 at 16:16
  • "Hand crafted" sounds even more pretentious than "handwritten". – Phil Perry May 13 '14 at 16:44

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