I often notice the word flavor being used on the Web. I'm from Russia, and this word is generally translated into Russian as the equivalent of 'impression', 'taste' etc. However, these translations don't fit the technology contexts in which the word is being used (i.e. Web or software development/information technologies etc).

Here are two links where the word "flavor" is used frequently (use ctrl+f for quick search):

Please could somebody explain why this usage is popular, and what it signifies?

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    Oxford Dictionaries Online: a kind, variety, or sort. Commented Mar 8, 2015 at 17:31
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    Yep, "flavor" might be used to when discussing several variations on a particular concept. Eg, there are Windows and Unix "flavors" of file systems. (Apparently Ubuntu has turned this metaphor into an official part of its terminology, calling it's variations "flavors". Ubuntu, of course is a "flavor" of the Debian OS, which is a "flavor" of Linux (which some would argue is a "flavor" of Unix).)
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Mar 8, 2015 at 18:19
  • I can't recall when I first heard the term used in a computing context -- probably it's been used from the 70s, at least, though it's likely becoming more popular.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Mar 8, 2015 at 18:50
  • Why you (@PeterShor or @HotLicks) don't post your comments as the answer, I wish to accept it)) Commented Mar 8, 2015 at 19:10

1 Answer 1


As far as I know, flavor, to denote variations on a basic theme, first turned up in quantum physics when quarks (v. small particles) were given flavors to show their different characteristics.

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    No, it was well before that. The OED has 1947: H. M. Lafferty Sense & Nonsense in Educ. There are almost as many flavors of modern education as there are varieties of Heinz's products. (They also have an even earlier citation, but I'm not as convinced by that one.) Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 1:09

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