I'm looking for something like "greenhorn" or "neophyte" that applies specifically to writing code. Does this word exist?


3 Answers 3


I don't think you will find something that hits the nail on the head. I've found these possible options, depending on your situation.

I've come across these terms in the Jargon File.

script kiddie

This is someone who puts together, normally unlawful, programmes from bits of code they have found online, without any real idea of what the code does. The use of kiddie implies a certain newness to the craft, however the term is always derogatory.

cargo cult programmer

Similarly to script kiddie, the cargo cult programmer doesn't know how the code they have written works. They found chunks and have pasted them in and hacked at them until they work. They reek of inexperience.


Written-only variant of newbie in common use on IRC channels, which implies specifically someone who is new to the Linux/open-source/free-software world.

I think this could apply if you are talking about someone new to programming for the free software world.


Almost synonymous with muggle. Implies both ignorance and a certain amount of willingness to learn, but does not necessarily imply as little experience or short exposure time as newbie and is not as derogatory as luser. Both a novice user and someone using a system for a long time without any understanding of the internals can be referred to as chainiks.

Chainik does seem to apply to computer users in general, so might not be what you're looking for.

  • 1
    "Script kiddy" is primarily used to describe someone that is interested in "hacking", but that has no skills or desire to learn anything about the field of computer security. The term is usually reserved for people who download a bunch of tools or scripts with no regard for their actual workings.
    – Polynomial
    Dec 1, 2011 at 11:28
  • Voodoo programmer catb.org/jargon/html/V/voodoo-programming.html seems to be another word that's applicable
    – xji
    Jun 27, 2018 at 22:11

I'm afraid I've never encountered such a term as a single word, if one does indeed exist at all. I've been a programmer in several different contexts, and the closest I've ever seen is borrowed from gamer usage - "newbie"/"noob" and variations.

Every other construction I've seen is of the form "X programmer" (e.g., "rookie programmer", "novice programmer").


The Jargon File attests several terms that might fit the bill.

Code monkey (and here) often connotes a coder with limited experience or ability.

Code grinder (the other end of the leash?) denotes a pitiable person who is little more than a report writer.

Naive user describes someone who is incompetent due to lack of experience.

  • 2
    I would disagree with all of these: The first two, in my experience of how they're used (by actual programmers), imply that the person is doing boring labourious "grunt" work in programming - but there no implication or connection to being a rookie. The third one might fit, but usually user is not usually used to refer to programmers. Nov 28, 2011 at 21:15
  • I won't disagree with you; there's no exact fit that simply means a rookie. The same is true for the ones Matt posted. Probably "gnubie" comes closest, but it has a more restrictive meaning.
    – MetaEd
    Nov 28, 2011 at 21:18

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