I've just checked in Wikipedia for some context where I could use the word patch, but most of the example usages I found only refers to "Software update" but not "Source code update"

Is the word patch appropriate for source code update?

For example:

Could we use that repository to submit our source code patches?

  • A "patch" is a "quick fix" to some software. Precisely how it's represented (eg, in source or object code) is not implied by the term.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 3:03
  • So not appropriate? Is there an alternative word for update that I could use in my example sentence?
    – mr5
    Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 3:11
  • 1
    It is appropriate, assuming the update you're taking about is a "quick fix" (which is itself a rather vague and nebulous term). Ie, you would use the term mostly for bug fixes, not new function.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 3:17
  • Ooh. Would you mind to re-post your comment as an answer instead so I could accept it? Thanks :)
    – mr5
    Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 3:20
  • How is it possible to update the software but not the source code? Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 4:03

1 Answer 1


A software "patch" is a "quick fix" -- generally a change of limited scope to fix bugs, vs a change to provide new function.

Precisely how the "patch" is presented (eg, in source code or object code) is not implied by the term.

(The term most likely was borrowed from hardware engineers, who would "patch" hardware to correct bugs by, eg, cutting wires in the backplane and soldering in new ones. Originally programmers would perform the analogous surgery by using the switches and lights on the control panel to change memory locations containing hardware instructions. But the term "stuck" to the concept of a "quick fix" even though the mechanism for applying the patch got further and further removed from the actual hardware.)

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