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So, we've all seen the web page message "Error 404: Not found."

Apparently, this has now been extended to non-http contexts, and 404 now means a stupid person. Is this true?

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    Uh, I think you totally missed the point of my edit.
    – Marthaª
    May 10, 2011 at 14:07
  • I think so too. And I think maybe I missed your point just because you might have missed mine's :):)
    – Thursagen
    May 14, 2011 at 2:39
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    Dont forget Error 418, I'm a teapot Jul 13, 2011 at 6:43
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    @Thursagen: Martha's edit was a great improvement, you should revert to that version and make note of how it makes this a much more appropriate question.
    – Caleb
    Aug 3, 2011 at 9:34

2 Answers 2

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There are, currently, 37 entries at urban dictionary for term 404. They are quite interesting and more than a few of them mention this sense of stupid, crazy, clueless, useless.

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HTTP Error 404 is a special computer code that indicates that the file you were looking for couldn't be found—in other words, the file's not there as far as the computer is concerned. There could be many reasons why: the file could have been deleted, the link you clicked might have been typoed, or one of a myriad of other reasons.

It generally does not have anything to do with the user—it's just a code that computers use, and by tradition, this code is also displayed to users so they know what happened.

However, according to a BBC article, the term 404 by itself means clueless. This being the BBC, I have no doubt as to the reliability, but it does seem to be local to the UK. This slang would be derived from the computer error, and not the other way around, i.e. the computer is not calling you stupid.

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