I'm not sure whether I should use ORing or OR'ing when referring to the action of applying the Boolean operator OR to two terms. I am a native English speaker and I know that someone would understand what I mean (in the context of computer science), but I am not sure if this is an actual word. I haven't found any meaningful results in a reputable dictionary, though I have seen OR'ing used. My gut feeling is that an apostrophe should be used because it would clearly separate the noun in the word and help the reader identify that this is an unusual word. Another example of this would be how butter is a noun and buttering is a verb meaning to apply the related noun to something; however, this is a commonly used word. Something more unusual, yet feasible, would be mayonnaise'ing (or mayonnaising).

Aside: I lack knowledge of linguistics to beable to include relevant jargon and terms to this question. My instinct is that this question title can be phrased to be more general and helpful to others; if someone has a suggestion to reword the question title to be of more help to others, I would be happy to do so. Also, I tagged this as best as I could and would not be opposed to improving the tagging by suggestions from knowledgeable users.

  • Boolean o-ring : books.google.it/… – user66974 Aug 19 '16 at 13:03
  • 1
    Check this post out: english.stackexchange.com/questions/79659/… – JonLarby Aug 19 '16 at 13:06
  • 1
    Is "how to properly write a clearly ungrammatical bit of jargon specific to a field" even on-topic here? – cobaltduck Aug 19 '16 at 13:10
  • 1
    As ever, convention is king. Ie, do what the majority of other people do in this context. Personally I would write "OR'ing" as it leads the reader to "mentally pronounce" the word the same way that you would speak it. "ORing" might be "mentally pronounced" as "oh-ring" rather than "or-ing" which is how you would say it. – Max Williams Aug 19 '16 at 13:14
  • 1
    @Josh61 I think the article is speaking about a different o-ring. They refer to it as a sigma ring, which is quite different from the computer science "OR" operator. o-ring would also be pronounced differently. – Klik Aug 19 '16 at 13:38

The verbing of words like this, like the pluralization of acronyms, is a relatively recent invention in English. As such, it doesn't appear that a good convention has arisen and neither approach is really standard.

  • ORing — looks like camel-case for O Ring, violates normal capitalization rules
  • OR'ing — looks like you're elided some letters, forming a contraction, rather than made a new verb/gerund
  • orring or oring — this is how I imagine the word would look if we'd been using it for a century, yet nobody ever proposes this and I've never seen it used.

Linguistically this is the bleeding edge of the language. Insisting on using all caps for OR, AND, XOR, etc, is a violation of centuries of spelling convention. Taking the name of a logical operation and making it a verb is nonsense in most contexts, and so many people find the word itself to be too slangy or colloquial. Using apostrophes to delineate troublesome words from their suffixes is non-standard and potentially confusing (when the suffix is -s for pluralizing). Making the word look more like how you might expect it to look if everyone orred and anded all the time is definitely non-standard and isn't even done by the people who or or and.

In short, there is no good solution. No matter what you pick, you'll have detractors. You could recast the sentence to avoid the use of these troublesome new words, or just pick a style and stick to it.

  • This is a great answer. I'll wait to see if anyone manages to find a well-defined standard. – Klik Aug 19 '16 at 13:36
  • @Klik I don't really have time at the moment to back up my claims with stats, so take with a grain of salt. But I've seen lots of people write things like OR'ing, ORing, ATMs, ATM's, etc... It seems we have no problem saying these things but we all feel uneasy writing them down. – Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Aug 19 '16 at 13:38
  • My sentiments exactly. Verbally, I know that someone will understand what I am referring to; in written word, I don't know of a convention. – Klik Aug 19 '16 at 13:39
  • 1
    'and'ing and 'or'ing? and-ing and or-ing? – AmI Aug 19 '16 at 22:19
  • These questions are difficult because even if they were not at the cutting edge of evolution, people interested in Boolean logic have little interest in even their native language and vice versa.I think Mr Shiny… is very obviously right in that neither apostrophes nor strings of capitals has any place here. – Robbie Goodwin Sep 2 '16 at 21:46

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.