what does "Gopher" means in computer programming context?
Like this: Great, now you know how to use interfaces, and I don’t need to talk about them any more, right? Well, no, not really. Let’s look at a few things that aren’t very obvious to the budding gopher. and:
Beginner gophers are led to believe that “v is of any type”, but that is wrong.
Elite ‘Gopher Team’

nice answer
Thank you all

  • 2
    I've never heard of a specific computer meaning, but in business "gopher" is pronounced "go fer" and is the lowest guy on the totem pole -- the one chosen to "go fer" coffee, etc.
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 11, 2016 at 17:13
  • 6
    It's just a really weak pun - the article is about a programming language called Go, so budding gopher is a whimsical way of referring to someone who's just learning to become proficient in that language, with an allusion to the office gopher (someone who's just started working there, so they're the most junior member of staff, always the one picked on to gopher = go for coffee and biscuits, etc.on behalf of the more senior staff). Apr 11, 2016 at 17:18
  • 1
    I have a vague recollection of a programming language Gopher designed to deliver answers to questions ("going for the answers"), to be used as a tool in user interface design.
    – Greg Lee
    Apr 11, 2016 at 17:36
  • @GregLee- You might be thinking of the Gopher protocol, whose name is a play on both the U. Minnesota mascot where it was developed, and its purpose to "go for" documents. It was a kinda-sorta-almost predecessor of HTTP.
    – cobaltduck
    Apr 11, 2016 at 19:41
  • I think the downvote is somewhat unfair. My search results on "gopher" and "computers" are almost all about the Internet protocol. Searches on "Go" are not exactly helpful, either.
    – choster
    Apr 11, 2016 at 19:47

2 Answers 2


The post is from a blog about the Go programming language (Golang), enthusiasts of which call themselves Gophers (not to be confused with the homophonous Gofer language or Gopher protocol). The largest conference for Go developers is called GopherCon (started in 2014), which is organized by a company called Gopher Academy, LLC, and the largest Go distributed hackathon is known as the Gopher Gala.

Nicknames for the enthusiasts of one software platform or another have become de rigeur in recent years; there are pythonistas, nodesters, perlmongers, angularians, drupalists, haskellers— though there is no nickname for Java programmers, apparently for the same reason such nicknames are discouraged for commercial software.

By all accounts, the Go language originated as an internal Google problem-solving project. Robert Griesemer, Rob Pike and Ken Thompson began work on a new language in September 2007. According to Rob Pike's blog, the name was chosen very early in the project, seemingly for its brevity as much as anything else:

name: 'go'. you can invent reasons for this name but it has nice properties. it's short, easy to type. tools: goc, gol, goa. if there's an interactive debugger/interpreter it could just be called 'go'. the suffix is .go.

Earlier versions of the FAQ deflect the question—

What is the origin of the name?
“Ogle” would be a good name for a Go debugger.

— and this question has been dropped entirely in more recent editions.

When Go was publicly announced in 2009, like other free software, it had adopted a mascot: a cartoon gopher designed by Renée French.

The Go Gopher by Renée French

But whence the term gopher, or whether it or the gopher mascot came first, is obscure. There is no mention of any of them in the official canned history, and the term does not appear in Pike's blog until 2014. Maybe the Go Go Gophers or the University of Minnesota Marching Band had a hand in it.

A 2013 Wired article by Klint Finley entitled “When Lousy Code Strikes, Google Dispatches Its Elite ‘Gopher Team’” suggests a reference to the office go-fer — in American slang, an assistant, intern, or other low-level employee who is sent out on errands, such as fetching coffee or mail for more senior staff. Although it sounds deprecatory to refer to highly skilled engineers and computer scientists in this way, it is also a way of praising them— to them, solving a complex software problem requires hardly more effort than delivering someone's lunch or dry cleaning would. But this claim is not explicit in the article.


This is a play on the name of the language: Go.

I have, in the past, referred to people who coded in COBOL as Cobolers. Similarly, this author is using "Gopher" as a humorous name for people who code in Go. I would guess the choice of word was made based at least partly on the fact that "Go-ers" is slightly awkward to say and/or has another meaning.

  • I was one of those "people who coded in COBOL", but I've never heard of them being called "Cobolers". Native speakers have no problem with That's a goer (that's an idea which will go, work, fly). Apr 11, 2016 at 18:18
  • Well, not all of the Cobolers I knew appreciated being called such... Apr 11, 2016 at 18:20
  • Well, it strikes me as a somewhat unusual "whimsical coinage", so I'd probably have remembered if anyone had applied it to me. On the other hand, I wouldn't like to swear I've never heard whimsical dossers to refer to people working on MS-Dos computers (though I'm sure I've never heard Windowers. Apr 11, 2016 at 18:23
  • 1
    That's because Microsoft prefers to call us users rather than even hint that there is some other kind of user we can be. Apr 15, 2016 at 19:41

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.