Wikipedia has a solid description of what "doxing" is:

Doxing is the Internet-based practice of researching and publishing personally identifiable information about an individual.

They also make a claim that the word is an abbreviation for "document tracing" but none of their sources confirm this. It seems like a completely unsubstantiated claim. Terms that appear in internet culture are notoriously hard to track but I'm finding it hard to believe that "dox" is short for "document tracing" considering the only relevant part of the longer phrase is "doc".

One of their linked sources even disagrees:

The term "dox" (also spelt "doxx", and short for "[dropping] documents").

Does anyone know how long this term has been used and where it originated? Is it really an abbreviation for "document tracing"?

  • The first activity on that Wiki page was in February 2012. Just checked it out of curiosity and thought might be worth sharing it here if you hadn't already seen it. (:
    – Neeku
    Jul 11, 2014 at 16:15
  • 6
    My assumption's always been that it was be a combination of changing the noun docs (short for documents) to dox (x substitution as part of leet speak) and then verbing it. I've never seen the claim that 'tracing' was ever part of the original term before today. Jul 11, 2014 at 17:24
  • 1
    Old newsgroup/BBS stuff lost in the mists of time, usually to do with software (and, more than occasionally, the cracks thereof) followed by the less-sociable practice of exposing personal/confidential information on 4chan and similar fora. As a noun, it's "documents"; as a verb, it's "dropping (posting) documents".
    – bye
    Jul 11, 2014 at 17:38

3 Answers 3


According to the following source the term derives from 'docs' (documents) and the practice of disclosing another Internet user’s personal information dates back to the 1990s on Usenet.


sometimes spelled as Doxxing, refers to the practice of investigating and revealing a target subject’s personally identifiable information, such as home address, workplace information and credit card numbers, without consent. The word is derived from “docs,” which is a shortened term for “documents.”


The term “dox” was initially used by computer hackers involved in pirated software[ distribution to describe various documents relating to new updates, cracks or patches. Beginning in the early to mid-2000s, the term “doxing” became associated with the act of leaking an individual’s personal information for retaliation or vigilantism. In the late 2000s, it rapidly grew into a harassment tactic used by members of Anonymous during their operations. In China and elsewhere, similar forms of privacy-invasive behaviors emerged through groups like Human Flesh Search Engine.

Notable Instances of doxing campaigns:

  • January 2007: Hal Turner
  • October 2007: Chris Forcand
  • January 2008: Scientology
  • January 2014: Jenna Jameson’s Request

Source: http://knowyourmeme.com

  • The origin of the term being associated with new updates, cracks or patches is interesting but that site doesn't source specific statements. It seems like it is a compilation of other sources. I don't suppose anyone can find something more authoritative?
    – MrHen
    Jul 11, 2014 at 19:47
  • @MrHen - Other sources refer to 'dox' as a short for documents. Why does it not sound good to you? What do you mean by 'authoritative' source?
    – user66974
    Jul 11, 2014 at 19:55
  • 1
    Knowyourmeme doesn't do any actual research. They just compile information they find from other sites which means it isn't any more authoritative than Wikipedia. Presumably one of their sources gives us the "updates, cracks or patches" link to "dox" but they didn't bother to tell us which one.
    – MrHen
    Jul 11, 2014 at 20:21

Dox originated in recent time as a shortening of DOCEX which is the military term for “document exploitation.” Not only did I hear DOCEX shortened to DOX in 1990-91 while in service, the term also fits its political usage perfectly: using or releasing enemy documents (including digital data) to achieve a social, economic, strategic or tactical advantage. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Document_Exploitation)

  • 1
    This is plausible but the difficulty lies in documenting the transition in the form of the word from "dok-ex" to "dox".
    – Greybeard
    May 11, 2022 at 23:30

Well actually, the term "doxxing" derives from the ancient Greek term "endoxa", which means "opinion." "Doxography" refers to the process by which a Greek authority, like Aristotle, reviews and publishes the positions of those thinkers, philosophers, writers, etc., that came before her (n.b. using the academic she here). This process is undertaken in order to reveal and criticize what is problematic in the positions taken by others.

  • Do you have some sources that you can link to or reference?
    – shoover
    Jan 31, 2019 at 18:11
  • cf. Aristotle's De Anima Feb 13, 2019 at 13:47

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.