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[spam] /spæm/
a canned food product consisting especially of pork formed into a solid block.
(lowercase) Digital Technology. disruptive online messages, especially commercial messages posted on a computer network or sent as email (often used attributively):
Install spam blocker software and keep your email spam filters updated to protect your accounts from unsolicited spam.
(lowercase) Digital Technology. (of promotional content on the Internet) irrelevant or misdirected:
The search engine delivered spam websites that had nothing to do with my keywords.
verb (used with object), spammed, spamming.
(lowercase) Digital Technology. to send spam to.
(lowercase) Digital Technology. to execute (an action) or use (an item) rapidly or repeatedly in a video game:
Spam the attack button as soon as the fight begins.
verb (used without object), spammed, spamming.
(lowercase) Digital Technology. to send spam.
Origin of Spam
1937; (def 1) sp(iced) + (h)am1; (other defs.) 1990-95; probably referring to a comedy routine on Monty Python's Flying Circus, British TV series, in which the word Spam is used repeatedly
Related forms
spammer, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for Spam
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • To the majority, Spam means no more than chopped meat in a can.

  • You take every word that's in the Spam and count how many times it appears.

    Little Brother

    Cory Doctorow
  • Now, take a ton of email that's not Spam -- in the biz, they call that "ham" -- and do the same.

    Little Brother

    Cory Doctorow
  • If it turns out to be Spam, you adjust the "Spam" histogram accordingly.

    Little Brother

    Cory Doctorow
  • So you're saying that you think the police should suck as hard as my Spam filter?

    Little Brother

    Cory Doctorow
British Dictionary definitions for Spam


verb spams, spamming, spammed
to send unsolicited electronic mail or text messages simultaneously to a number of e-mail addresses or mobile phones
unsolicited electronic mail or text messages sent in this way
Derived Forms
spammer, noun
Word Origin
C20: from the repeated use of the word Spam in a popular sketch from the British television show Monty Python's Flying Circus, first broadcast in 1969


trademark a kind of tinned luncheon meat, made largely from pork
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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Word Origin and History for Spam



proprietary name registered by Geo. A. Hormel & Co. in U.S., 1937; probably a conflation of spiced ham. Soon extended to other kinds of canned meat. In the sense of "Internet junk mail" it was coined by Usenet users after March 31, 1993, when Usenet administrator Richard Depew inadvertently posted the same message 200 times to a discussion group. The term had been used in online text games, and it was from the comedy routine in British TV show "Monty Python's Flying Circus" (beloved by many intellectual geeks) where a restaurant's menu items all devolve into spam.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Spam in Culture

spam definition

Unsolicited, undesired e-mail. Also used as a verb. Spam is the e-mail version of junk mail.

Note: The name comes from a Monty Python comedy skit about a restaurant that served only Spam.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for Spam



To send a computer message out to myriad people: the cost to spam an advertisement in thousands of news groups is typically less than $50/ Spamming. Sending out on the Internet the cyberspace equivalent of junk mail

[1990s+ Computer; fr Spam, trademark for a brand of canned meat, which acquired a probably undeserved unsavory reputation among WWII troops]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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