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[lok-in] /ˈlɒkˌɪn/
an act or instance of becoming unalterable, unmovable, or rigid.
commitment, binding, or restriction.
Origin of lock-in
1965-70; noun use of verb phrase lock in Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for lock-in
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • To every appeal they heartlessly refused to divulge the key to the lock-in.

    Meeting of the Board Alan Edward Nourse
British Dictionary definitions for lock-in


an illegal session of selling alcohol in a bar after the time when it should, by law, be closed
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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lock-in in Technology

When an existing standard becomes almost impossible to supersede because of the cost or logistical difficulties involved in convincing all its users to switch something different and, typically, incompatible.
The common implication is that the existing standard is notably inferior to other comparable standards developed before or since.
Things which have been accused of benefiting from lock-in in the absence of being truly worthwhile include: the QWERTY keyboard; any well-known operating system or programming language you don't like (e.g., see "Unix conspiracy"); every product ever made by Microsoft Corporation; and most currently deployed formats for transmitting or storing data of any kind (especially the Internet Protocol, 7-bit (or even 8-bit) character sets, analog video or audio broadcast formats and nearly any file format).
Because of network effects outside of just computer networks, Real World examples of lock-in include the current spelling conventions for writing English (or French, Japanese, Hebrew, Arabic, etc.); the design of American money; the imperial (feet, inches, ounces, etc.) system of measurement; and the various and anachronistic aspects of the internal organisation of any government (e.g., the American Electoral College).

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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