In computing, is it correct to say "Username and password you have entered don't match"? Won't it sound like username and password should be the same?

  • 3
    Only if you think about it too long. It's really just a shortened form of "The username and password [associated with that username] do not match."
    – J.R.
    Commented Oct 17, 2016 at 17:17
  • This might go over better at the UI/UX stack exchange site. Given that, when a user enter incorrect credentials, a more common paradigm uses words like incorrect or invalid rather than do not match.
    – cobaltduck
    Commented Oct 17, 2016 at 17:23
  • 1
    It would be very poor security if they did match!
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Oct 17, 2016 at 18:03
  • ("Username or password is invalid" would be a better way to phrase it.)
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Oct 17, 2016 at 18:04
  • There are unstated words there: [The] Username and password you have entered don't match [what we have in the database for the username and password] Commented Oct 17, 2016 at 22:23

1 Answer 1


The usage is correct.

"To match" doesn't always mean "to be identical." It can mean that a number of things go together, correspond, or form a set.

From Oxford Dictionaries Online:

VERB: Correspond or cause to correspond in some essential respect; make or be harmonious.

[with object] ‘I thought we'd have primrose walls to match the bath’

[no object] ‘the jacket and trousers do not match’

So just as a jacket can match trousers without the jacket actually being trousers, a password can match a user name if the hash of the entered password is the same as the hash stored for the user name. This doesn't require the password to be character-by-character identical to the user name, or even similar.

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