In the 1950's, the primary uses of the word "bugged" was to describe a room that contained a hidden microphone, or to refer to a telephone line that was being tapped.

Over the last few years, I've seen more and more people use the word "bugged" to refer to a software bug.

For example, someone recently wrote, "That function returns the wrong value, it is bugged."

In contrast, I am used to people writing, "That function returns the wrong value, it has a bug."

Is the use of the word "bugged" to refer to software bugs now universally understood in the English language, or is it predominately used in specific regions?

As a bonus, does anyone know where this particular use of the word "bugged" (as opposed to "bug" or "buggy") originated, and when. Also, was the origin fostered by a specific cultural group?


The number of programmers with decades of experience stating they have never encountered anyone using "bugged" in this context is notable. I postulate that this effect is a consequence of people largely being exposed to highly monolithic environments. For the non-programmers who state they have never heard people using "bugged" in this way, that is possibly just a reflection of their limited exposure to technical content, as every time I have seen it used has been in a technical context.

For any doubters, programmers or otherwise, here are just a few concrete examples from the real world:

For those interested, general web searches provide thousands of additional examples. Searches directly on technical websites provides many more examples.

(Note that the above are random examples pulled from a web searches. I apologize in advance if there is any inappropriate content. Many thanks to NVZ for making the list of examples easier to read.)

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    May 18 '16 at 17:16
  • 11
    In 40+ years of writing software I have never heard someone say that a program is "bugged" if it has a defect. "Buggy" - yes. "Has bugs" - yes. "Bugged" - never. May 21 '16 at 16:11
  • 1
    Given that this use of "bugged" is undeniably in use within software development circles, I updated the title to make it more clear. I personally find this use currently sounds weird, but then again, sometimes things sound weird before they become normal. Almost every sentence on this site would sound weird if read 150 years ago. Expanded to a larger scope, the notion of equal rights for all people likely sounded preposterous to many people not long ago, and still sounds preposterous to some people today. May 21 '16 at 20:11
  • 1
    As a millenial programmer, I can confidently say that I've literally never heard the term "bugged". I'd also like to note that (1) it's highly unlikely that multiple people who've never heard the term have all worked in the same "monolithic environment" and (2) any English phrase which "can" be used to describe something probably has been used in every fashion possible, including in the question being asked here - that doesn't mean it's predominant, common, recognizable, or even appropriate for the context.
    – Pockets
    May 22 '16 at 23:22
  • 1
    A mod deleted an answer that had received 123 upvotes and only 12 downotes. I get the user had all the time in the world to find support, even a dictionary entry would have sufficed, for his succinct answer, I get that it didn't fully address the question either but to actually go and delete it. Blimey.....
    – Mari-Lou A
    May 23 '16 at 18:30

13 Answers 13


Before there were software bugs and software programs that needed to be de-bugged, the term existed and applied to defects or flaws in circuits, machines or operations.

From the Index to Radio for the Year 1937:

There can be no doubt but that many new and simple noise silencers will appear, both of the amplitude limiting and the "silence punch" types. Several are known to be in the laboratory and they should be "de-bugged" before long.

From 1951, The Flying Lady

An ignition system, no matter how ornery, is still logical, and can be de-bugged using step-by-step analysis

From 1959, Automatic Control:

two members of the class trying to repair one of the twelve Dynalog recorders which were purposely “bugged” by the instructor

From 1960, from an article about the "IBM Development Laboaratory in Endicott, New York" in Missile Design & Development volume 6:

At the conclusion of this study, 2500 randomly inserted bugged components had been investigated. An automatic detection capability of 99.1 percent was attained for a group of 300 consecutive tests. An average of two package replacements were required in this study to correct any of the bugs introduced into the machine.

From 1960, Radio-electronics, Volume 31 :

It is very likely that the tubes that give unsatisfactory oscillation are being “bugged” by parasitic oscillation.

Then the word "bugged", already in use, entered use in software:

From 1962, Fundamentals of electronic data processing: An Introduction to Computer Programming

We are going to assume that this programmer knows no more about his job than you would, at this stage. In fact, we are going to assume that you are this programmer. A "premature" programmer.You will produce a program bugged with wrong assumptions and errors, so that it will take several tries before you develop one that is workable.

From 1964, by Micheal J. Synge of Boeing, A Case of Too Much Precision, Communications of the ACM: Volume 7, page 723 :

...I have transliterated it into FORTRAN II for the IBM 7094. In doing this I stumbled across solutions to a decimal-to-binary conversion problem that has long bugged FORTRAN.

From 1965, Data Processing Digest, Volume 11:

An interesting feature is a bugged code and the history of what happens to it through the successive compilations

From 1965, Alchemy and artificial intelligence by Hubert Lederer Dreyfus

Newell, Shaw, and Simon's claims concerning their still bugged program had launched the chess machine into the realm of scientific mythology.

(The above passage is quoted or repeated in many other works and seems to be the most famous use of "bugged" to characterize flawed computer software).

From 1970, Ten statement Fortran plus Fortran IV for the IBM 360, featuring the WATFOR and WATFIV compilers:

Many involved and carefully written programs have been "bugged" because their authors did not know this principle.

From 1971, Symposium on Engineering Computer Software: verification, qualification, certification

The model involved over 3,000 unknowns and required approximately 3/4 hour to obtain the "bugged" radial displacement solution

From 1972, Data Processing Digest, Volume 18 :

Bugged programs are the usual reason for schedule slippage, unusable outputs, or— sequentially— both

From 1972, What computers can't do: a critique of artificial reason

Public gullibility and Simon's enthusiasm was such that Newell, Shaw, and Simon's claims concerning their still bugged program

From 1973, Computing with mini computers ,

Figure 8.6 A bugged code.


[index entry] Bugged code, 88

From 1975, Data Management, Volume 13 :

dually coded modules have been used for instant "repair" of programs, which in fact took two weeks to repair (the bugged module).

From 1980, InfoWorld:

The emulator is virtually crash-proof since the bugged program never actually executes. Instead, every instruction, errant or not, is simulated.

From 1981, Human factors in software development (3 distinct instances):

the bugged program that they are studying
The reader can readily reconstruct each bugged listing by referring to Table 1 in conjunction with the "un-bugged" version of each program
the bugged line (line 7400)

From 1982, The Visible Computer: 6502 (Apple II version)

Almost never press reset. Use it only as a last resort in situations such as when you have crashed the system by GOing a bugged subroutine

From 1983, Computer Education

total there were 24 bugged programs prepared

From 1983, The American Mathematical Monthly

But this bug, once discovered, is easy to fix: simply eliminate 3 from the product in the bugged definition.

The 1984 Apple IIe Programming: A Step-by-step Guide, Book 1 has a section titled:


From 1984, Research in British Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges, Volume 1

An intelligent program checker: PROLOG program incorporating knowledge of novices to comment on their bugged PASCAL programs

From 1984, The Visible Computer: 6502, Machine Language Teaching System,
Commodore 64 Version

running a program, no matter how bugged, can't physically damage your computer. The only thing a bugged program can hurt is your ego.


Suffice it to say, bugged machine language programs are not especially forgiving.


That's why faulty Basic programs are much less likely to crash the computer than bugged machine language programs.

1986 Writer's Market: Where to Sell What to Write:

Becauase space is limited we look for short articles. Try to avoid sending bugged programs and incomplete submissions — no cassette of program listing

From 1986, Assessing Learning with LOGO

Make up a program that contains bugs. The program can have any commands you want, but it should make a design or pattern of some sort when it is fixed. Write both the correct commands and bugged commands below.

From 1986, Empirical Studies of Programmers: First Workshop, Volume 1, Part 3

Table 1: The Output of the Bugged Functions

From 1986, Human Resources and Computing

The 'bugged' program was then passed to another student
The bugged version was as follows

From 1987, The Art of C Programming:

Here's a (bugged) program to evaluate

From 1987, The debugger's handbook, TURBO Pascal:

To help you appreciate the process of debugging, study the following example of a bugged program.

From 1989, The Art of Lisp Programming:

Just occasionally, debugging becomes the art of throwing away a bugged function and replacing it with one that was already there!

From 1991, Advanced Research on Computers in Education

The 'instantiation to an unexpected value' bug, for instance, implies that a goal containing variables succeeds in both the ideal and bugged code. Thus only bugs capable of yielding this result need to be considered....For reasons of tractability and clarity, we also stipulate that the bugged code may only have one difference from the ideal code, that of the bug chosen. ... If the 'problem' clause has a lower number than the 'ideal' clause the traces will show a failed resolution for the 'ideal' code where the 'bugged' code has a successful one.

From 1991, The design, implementation, and use of DSTutor: a tutoring system for denotational semantics:

execution of programs with a bugged semantic equation where the goal is the detection and specification of the bugged semantic equation based on input/output behavior

From 1993, Visual Basic for Dos: Developers Guide :

Errors are trappable, and the Visual Basic interpreter can stop execution to tell you that something's wrong. A bug, according to the definition subscribed to by professional programmers, is far more serious. The bugged program can go about

From 1994, Proceedings of the Second Workshop on Environments and Tools for Parallel Scientific Computing

The execution of this bugged version starts with an initial state where N=4, and terminates with a segmentation fault.

From 1995, The Mathematica Journal:

This article discusses the advantages of a general method, called distribution-free testing, and demonstrates it at work correcting a very badly bugged multiplication function...Coping with such a bad function should therefore be an interesting challenge for distribution-free testing. When we use distribution-free testing with this bugged multiplication function, we will get a startling improvement - the correct results.

From 1995, Proceedings of the 4th International Workshop on Object-Orientation in Operating Systems

Debugging: A problem with persistence is that if a bugged program is run, it can often destroy parts of the store it needs, or at least modify parts of the store and cause each run to have a different behaviour.

From 1998, Tenth Conference on Software Engineering Education & Training :

The mail headers provided timing information together with the subject's identity, and the sequence of mail messages from each subject provided the sequence of changes that they made to their 'bugged' program in trying to fix the errors.

From 1999, "Debug It: A debugging practicing system" in Computers & Education vol. 32:

Furthermore, all programs should be short in nature so as to encourage the students to comprehend the logic of the given bugged program rather than guessing for the correct solution.

From 2000, DHTML and JavaScript

After I've explained how this Property works currently, which is the bugged version, I'm going to put a section in that explains how it is supposed to work, just in case they decide to fix the problems.

From 2002, Estimating Residual Faults from Code Coverage

To establish the mean growth in detected faults, we measured the failure rate of each fault inserted individually into PREPRO, using a test harness where the outputs of the bugged version were compared against the final version

From 2003, LINUX and UNIX Programming Tools: A Primer for Software Developers

In the following session, we run the bugged program in background. The PID of the process is 3574.

From 2003, Professional PHP4

[index entry] bugged version, output, 168

From 2005, Unix: The Textbook :

The end of bugged code !

From 2005, Software That Sells: A Practical Guide to Developing and Marketing

The Windows versions of WordPerfect came out 16 months after its Microsoft competitor and was badly bugged.

From 2006, Pro Perl :

If we chose to return a result rather than modifying the passed argument, then the code would be perfectly valid but badly bugged.

From 2009, Introduction to Embedded Systems: Interfacing to the Freescale 9S12 :

Often it is easier to visualize bugs by looking at the assembly listing in and around the bugged code.

From 2009, CUDA Solutions for the SSSP Problem :

4.3 A Bugged Implementation

From 2009, Encyclopedia of Play in Today's Society

Dungeon Lords was not a success and is known for its complex interface, poor performance, and bugged game play.

From 2010, Automated Reasoning: 5th International Joint Conference

All systems—except 'GermanBug' (a bugged version of 'German07')—are certified to be safe by mcmt while for 'GermanBug,' the tool returns an error trace consisting of 16 transitions.

From 2011, EMBOSS Developer's Guide: Bioinformatics Programming

A debugger executes the bugged program and traces its internal state to allow problems with the code to be rapidly identified and fixed.

From 2012, Solving PDEs in C++: Numerical Methods in a Unified Object-Oriented Approach :

The bugged instruction in this segment usually calls another function; the block of this function is then debugged

From 2013, Local Networks and the Internet: From Protocols to Interconnection

These numbers were due to a bugged implementation.

From 2013, Software Design for Real-time Systems:

Fig.11.7 Debriefing a bugged program

So "de-bugged" and to a lesser extent "bugged" have been used as long as there have been software bugs.

So the answer to when is between 1959 and 1965.

As to, where, well Professor Dreyfus was at MIT when he wrote Alchemy and Artificial Intelligence in 1965, which includes "bugged program".

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    May 18 '16 at 17:17
  • Are you on some kind of mission?Do you plan to list an example for every year? We're missing examples from 1992, '96 and '97 by the way. Does this omission invalidate your well researched answer?
    – Mari-Lou A
    May 23 '16 at 18:23
  • @Mari-LouA Maybe I can stop now. I guess I wanted lots of legitimate examples, especially older examples, because some experienced people said they never heard the term being used.
    – DavePhD
    May 23 '16 at 18:40
  • That sounds sensible enough to me, and I think you made your point.
    – Mari-Lou A
    May 23 '16 at 18:48
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    Not surprised that "Professional PHP4" has the word "bugged" in it. >:) May 5 '17 at 19:06

I would agree with the other answers. "bugged" is incorrect usage. The standard American programming terminology is that the "software is buggy" or "has bugs" and this has been true since I began programming around 1980.

  • 1
    Google ngrams agrees with you - books.google.com/ngrams/… - buggy is far more common. May 16 '16 at 21:08
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    This is not just true in American English, it is true for British English too.
    – Mark Booth
    May 17 '16 at 9:45
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    The fact that "bugged" is less common does not make it incorrect usage.
    – barbecue
    May 17 '16 at 23:45
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    @RockPaperLizard You asked if it's universal. It's not.
    – Nic
    May 18 '16 at 0:11
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    Even if you said "commonplace" instead of "universal", the answer would still be "no". It stands out as unusual when people say "bugged". Sure, there are examples of that usage, and everyone would know what it means, but it is not in anyway normal. May 18 '16 at 8:52

I have mostly seen it from non-native speakers, or children (approximately under 14) on the forums of Blizzard games and Plex. I agree with all other posters that buggy is the correct adjective. There is no verbal form. See the buggy/bugged software n-gram.

  • 1
    You could say "X bugs out," I do that sometimes. May 16 '16 at 19:13
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    'bug out' is a different etymology though - en.wiktionary.org/wiki/bug_out#Etymology May 16 '16 at 20:31
  • @PeteKirkham From the link you've given: 5. (idiomatic, computing) To crash or glitch. May 17 '16 at 9:53
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    If it has too many bugs, it's buggered. May 17 '16 at 12:26
  • 2
    To bug out == eject from a plane or leave a field of combat to avoid defeat. So unless the software has shut itself down to prevent a disaster, it's a very odd use. May 17 '16 at 20:35

The prevalent usage is "the function has a bug" or "the function is buggy".

There is a very subtle, but important difference that is highlighted when you look at the word debugging. Debugging is the process of intentionally tracking down and removing bugs. Bugging would be the opposite, intentionally placing bugs.

This makes sense - if a room is bugged, then a person purposely planted a bug there. But for software, this would mean someone purposefully wrote those bugs into it. This might happen, but is unlikely (e.g. a hiring test where you are tasked to debug something that has ben bugged on purpose before).

So if you say "the function is buggy", you simply describe the status quo - without giving an assumption about how it got that way.

At least, that is what the current, prevalent usage amongst people more involved with software is. But bugged seems to be becoming more popular especially amongst young, inexperienced people new to the field.


While I agree with others that 'buggy' is far more common usage, I do hear the term 'bugged' used to describe code from time to time. Additionally, it is usually from professional software engineers or developers who are native speakers of American English that I hear the term used.

Usually, I hear 'bugged' in reference to code that has (or had) a particular, known bug. For example, it could be used as:

We're aware of that behavior. Version 1.0.2 was bugged, but this was corrected in 1.0.3.

Of course, the phrase "had a bug" could have been used equally well in that context.

'Buggy,' on the other hand, seems to be a broader term that can describe software that has a particular, known bug, software that is generally of low quality, or software that is not behaving as intended for a reason that is not yet diagnosed (or some combination thereof.)

In the example I gave previously, I would personally prefer "had a bug" or 'bugged' there rather than 'buggy,' because saying

Version 1.0.2 was buggy.

sounds like

Version 1.0.2 was full of bugs.

rather than

Version 1.0.2 had one particular bug that we know about and have since fixed.

  • 9
    As a professional developer who would use the term, and in the way you describe, I can only agree :) "Buggy" gives me a notion of the general prevalence of bugs, "bugged" is much narrower.
    – hobbs
    May 17 '16 at 0:15
  • I'd prefer to specify which bug. I agree that "buggy" is indicative of a wider problem; I suspect it's used mostly for software that either glitchy (intermittently faulty) or has a number of non-blocking bugs (which affect some functionality, but wouldn't necessary prevent the product from shipping).
    – Mathieu K.
    May 17 '16 at 1:59
  • @MathieuK. Yes, I agree that specifying which bug would normally be more useful. I was just providing an example of the sort of context in which I usually hear the term used.
    – reirab
    May 17 '16 at 2:20
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    100% agree, this is what this term means and how it is used
    – DCShannon
    May 18 '16 at 16:41

At the moment, this seems like a common mistake rather than a new usage. I think it's a logical guess to use 'bugged' that way' like using 'breaked' instead of 'broken.'

However, when native speakers and domain experts all use 'buggy', and 'bugged' is often found in sentences and paragraphs with basic errors, it suggests a mistake rather than a new usage.

For example, we see it in paragraphs like this:

This Tool is only usable by EVE Online Gamer. The tab source code does not hold the source caus this is pretty bugged for me, use the zip in download instead.

But you never see it in professionally written books or hear amongst native-English-speaking software developers.

If 'bugged' were usable like this, it would be because it was the past participle of a verb, 'to bug,' with the meaning of 'to add a defect to software.' This would make the following sentences seem natural;

the programmer bugged the function


I keep fixing it, and he keeps bugging it again.

It's not, therefore, a valid sense of 'to bug,' which only means 'to install a monitoring device' or 'to annoy'

  • 1
    I agree with your conclusion, but not your argument. You can't say "the pilot soared the plane into the sky," but all of those words are fully integrated into the English language.
    – phoog
    May 16 '16 at 16:45
  • 1
    But then you're begging the question (in the proper rhetorical sense); the argument is circular. You are arguing that the word doesn't have that meaning because you can't use it in a sentence that requires that meaning. Someone who does think the word has that meaning probably would use the word in those sentences.
    – phoog
    May 16 '16 at 17:01
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    Yes I suppose so. Still you have to be careful about saying what sounds funny to native speakers of English as regional standards differ.
    – phoog
    May 16 '16 at 17:32
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    I think it's a logical guess to use 'bugged' that way. Like using 'breaked' instead of 'broken.' However, when native speakers and domain experts all[1] use 'buggy', and 'bugged' is often found in sentences and paragraphs with basic errors[2], it suggests a mistake rather than a new usage. [1] my experience of reading lots of books and bugging software professionally for >20 years :) [2] eg "This Tool is only usable by EVE Online Gamer. The tab source code does not hold the source caus this is pretty bugged for me, use the zip in download instead." May 17 '16 at 5:33
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    True. But that page also contains "Frank needs a working code written", "The first matter is related to the measurement of your progresses," "the first brainstorm you have to get," and more instances of clear but slightly off text. (I'd expect 'Frank needs working code,' 'measurement of progress,' 'the first brainstorm to perform.') The author - Fabrizio Fioravanti - is Italian, which I think supports my idea that it's a logical guess by talented non-native speakers, missing out because English is a silly language, May 17 '16 at 14:06

I often hear bugged used to mean that something is in a non functional state. It's more often used to describe that something is currently broken, either completely or partially. Typically I hear it used when talking about some feature or component as a whole, rather than talking about specific code.

For example, it is common in gaming communities to refer to a mission/quest as bugged if it is not functioning properly. A quick search for "bugged" on World of Warcraft's forums returns 37,100 hits and for Hearthstone's forums 4,660 hits.

I would certainly say that using bugged to refer to a software bug is becoming commonplace.

  • We used to use broken for something that's significantly, well, broken. I'm thinking about developer/tester usage, though. I'm not sure where gamerspeak is at these days.
    – Mathieu K.
    May 17 '16 at 2:03
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    WoW was also where I've seen/heard "bugged" the most. Gamers are much more likely than most non-developers to talk to each other about software bugs. "bugged" is a binary condition, though. If something sort of works, or only occasionally breaks, people that would say "bugged" instead of broken will still say "a bit buggy" instead of "a bit bugged". May 17 '16 at 7:00
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    WoW and Hearthstone are probably the best sources for non-English language speakers talking about software in English. I would expect the highest levels of mistakes in their use of the language, so am not surprised to hear this confirmed. May 17 '16 at 15:13

The following Ngram confirms the many answers that "buggy" is the conventional term in the context of software, whereas "software is bugged" and "code is bugged" doesn't feature at all in the database used by Ngram.


Here are some definitions:

Buggy adjective - of a computer program, system, etc. : having many problems or errors that prevent proper operation : having many bugs - M-W

(definition 3) 1. transitive verb : to plant a concealed microphone in
(definition 3) 2. transitive verb : bother, annoy don't bug me with petty details
(definition 3) intransitive verb : to lose one's composure : freak —often used with out
(definition 4 - of the eyes) intransitive verb : protrude, bulge —often used with out
(definition 4 - of the eyes) transitive verb : to cause to bug
- M-W

Buggy code describes an attribute of the code itself, while bugged code refers to something done to the code.

Based on the definitions, Ngram and personal and others' experience, "bugged code" is not idiomatic when referring to code with software problems. The term is likely a back-formation from "debugged".

  • "Most geostatistics software is bugged, and most of it is woefully inefficient" books.google.com/…
    – DavePhD
    May 17 '16 at 13:05
  • "In the following rather contrived and bugged code the call to ajAcdGetString will overwrite the pointer to memory allocated and returned by the (unnecessary) call to ajStrNewC: /* This code is bugged */ " books.google.com/…
    – DavePhD
    May 17 '16 at 13:07
  • 3
    @DavePhD The OP cites many more examples of the use of "bugged" for "buggy". However, "bugged" in this context is not idiomatic and arguably not fluent. I'd grant that it may be a back-formation from "debugged" so there is a plausible argument for new usage, though whether this is becoming mainstream will need to be established via more recent corpora. My primary argument here is that it's not the case in my experience and the collective experience of the other respondents, for good reasons backed by established differences in the ways the verb and the adjective are used.
    – Lawrence
    May 17 '16 at 14:21
  • I agree that "bugged" originated from "de-bugged", but I think that "buggy" originated in the same way, but latter. I don't see any example of "buggy" referring to software prior to 1970, but "bugged" goes back to 1962 books.google.com/… and 1965 books.google.com/…
    – DavePhD
    May 17 '16 at 14:34
  • 1
    @Lawrence on the other hand "bugged" may have come before "de-bugged" (as far as literally having bugs), based on this 1880 book that says, "bugged branch", "bugged tree" and "never seen the guava bugged in its wild state". books.google.com/…
    – DavePhD
    May 23 '16 at 21:55

There are lots of great answers here! I think Nicholas is on to something when he mentions use of the term by children. I've also noticed "bugged" being used (in the US) to describe buggy software primarily among young (teenage) "gamers", as opposed to software professionals. This may be the beginnings of a transition in usage... Not too long ago I'd have said something "has a glitch", but not that it's "glitchy" or "glitching". All three sound fine to me now, though I'll admit that it's going to take a while for "bugged" to sound right (and not conjure mental images of wiretapping).

  • 4
    I'm a 30-something professional developer that uses the term. Maybe I'm just really "down with the kids".
    – Blorgbeard
    May 17 '16 at 1:20

I've been doing software for a few decades now and have never heard "bugged" to describe code with faults.

For native English speakers "bugged" already has two common uses: 1) meaning something or someone is annoying the speaker or 2) a covert listening device.

The word "buggy" and the phrase "to get the bugs out" or more revealing "to iron the bugs out," comes from the pre-pesticide days when lice were common. Has lice and lice eggs could survive a standard washing of the era, the only way to remove them clothes was to go over the clothes with a hot iron. It's also why having freshly ironed clothes became a status symbol. If you had a rumpled look, you might have lice as well, and be buggy. But no one would have said you were "bugged."

The terms transition to computer famously occurred in WWII when then Lt. but eventually Vice Admiral Grace M. Hopper, traced a fault to moth beaten to death in one of the electro-mechanical relays of the system she was programming (don't remember which one at the moment) using the sense of bug and buggy from the previous paragraph, she logged the episodes as IIRC, "I got the bug out," and from then on bug, bugs and buggy became programmer speak for a fault.

Sense "bugged" doesn't have the same connotation as "buggy" historically I'm going to say it's never really been standard usage. Probably seen most often as the result of editors trying to eliminate passive voice.

Of course, the term could be evolving. It might be "Buffy-Speak." My favorite example being, "Could you vague that up a little more for me?" Turning "vague" from an adjective to a verb.

  • 2
    While I agree with all your main points, as an aside, the famous Grace Hopper anecdote actually reveals that the usage of 'bug' was prevalent before the moth episode - the joke was that it was a 'bug' in both senses.
    – peterG
    May 16 '16 at 22:35
  • 2
    As a counter-point to your anecdotal evidence, I have also been a software developer for a decade or so, and I have heard "bugged" a bit; it sounds natural to me to say "this function is bugged in version x.y.z".
    – Blorgbeard
    May 17 '16 at 1:08
  • 2
    Plenty of real-world examples exist. It's not as common as "buggy" but it is by no means rare or unusual. In fact, I heard it used by a .NET developer earlier today when he said that a service was bugged.
    – barbecue
    May 17 '16 at 1:16

The only time I hear "bugged" used around software is when used as "DEbugged". For example, "She debugged my code."

Code may be "buggy", not "bugged". Code may be "debugged", not "bugged". Code is never "bugged". Don't say that that. It's weird. Any examples to the contrary are examples of people doing it wrong. Tell them to stop. Don't follow their example. Shame them.

  • 3
    Wow, that's an awfully rigid stance. May 18 '16 at 21:53
  • And DavePhD gives examples to the contrary going waaaay back to present day... I would offer though that the usage never really caught on in the first place and still hangs on like the vestigial wings on an Ostrich. ;) May 19 '16 at 22:37
  • @TracyCramer LOL. That's definitely one possibility, although I'm seeing it's use by many young people, so it's more like a new genetic mutation in which the ostrich has grown a third leg. The benefit is that they are setting new land speed records. ;) May 20 '16 at 0:17
  • LOL - Now THAT'S funny ;) May 20 '16 at 16:05
  • @RockPaperLizard - he is merely holding you to a standard he maintains consistently. Software developers have to achieve perfection in spelling, punctuation and grammar before our code will compile. When we not only can achieve perfection but are obliged to do so all day, every day, why should we tolerate sloppiness, laziness and ignorance in others?
    – Peter Wone
    May 21 '16 at 16:34

The term for software with faults is at the boundary between the specialized language used by software developers and the language used by everyone. Laymen and laywomen talk about bugs in software.

Software developers will call a single software fault a "bug", software that doesn't have such faults "bug free" (although that happens only very rarely), software that has too many faults "buggy", the process of removing bugs "debugging".

Non-software developers may call software with bugs whatever they like, for example "bugged". Software developers hearing this just cringe and don't change how they call it. No doubt that you can find examples in the literature, but very few from software developers.

  • I think you raise a very important point. While the meaning of professional jargon may evolve within a profession, lay opinion on the meaning of the word is irrelevant.
    – Peter Wone
    May 21 '16 at 16:25
  • 1
    @PeterWone You may have that backwards. Colloquial usage of words often dictates the more prevalent use, even if that meaning is erroneous. For example, the consistent colloquial erroneous use of the professional psychiatric terms schizophrenia and OCD by lay people cannot be described as irrelevant. In those cases, the lay opinion has been so strong that most non-experts (and many experts) no longer understand the true meanings of those technical terms. But in this question, we are referring to a word that is being used with a different syntax, not a different meaning. May 21 '16 at 21:01

In the fine tradition of verbing nouns, software can "bug out". Naturally, the past tense of using "bug" as a verb, is "bugged".

Software bugs out, or bugs up a process. I don't hear the term very often, but I have come across it. I've typically felt that such usage was rather informal. The word, used as a verb, simply means to experience/demonstrate a bug.

"Ah! It bugged me!"

(Actually, that would be very straightforward English, using the word "bug" like "irritate". However, it could also be used like Nickelodeon Slime, when children on TV would slime their parents, which meant dumping slime on their heads.)

I have also heard "buggered", though also very uncommonly (and I would be even less inclined to use that word in communications where I was striving to be formal).

In general, I would consider such usage to be rather informal (as already mentioned twice), and possibly even improper, but generally understandable. Such is how I've seen several words evolve. I would expect this usage to become more widely used, and more widely spread, if computer programming skills grow among the general population. Until then, I suspect that other ways (to phrase the concept) will likely be more widely appreciated.

  • "buggered" means something totally different. It can be used the same as "f***** up" for software that has too many bugs, but that the first few letters coincide with "bug" or "bugged" is probably coincidence.
    – gnasher729
    May 21 '16 at 16:03
  • "Don't bug me" might be something you tell a six year old when he asks for ice cream for the third time after being told "no" twice already. Also unrelated to software problems. Of course software bugs can be annoying, so I might say "this bug is bugging me" (I probably wouldn't) meaning "I find this software fault very annoying".
    – gnasher729
    May 21 '16 at 16:07

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