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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.
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
(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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for Spam
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • So you're saying that you think the police should suck as hard as my Spam filter?

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

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

    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
  • To the majority, Spam means no more than chopped meat in a can.

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 American Heritage® 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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Spam in Technology

1. (From Hormel's Spiced Ham, via the Monty Python "Spam" song) To post irrelevant or inappropriate messages to one or more Usenet newsgroups, mailing lists, or other messaging system in deliberate or accidental violation of netiquette.
It is possible to spam a newsgroup with one well- (or ill-) planned message, e.g. asking "What do you think of abortion?" on soc.women. This can be done by cross-posting, e.g. any message which is crossposted to alt.rush-limbaugh and alt.politics.homosexuality will almost inevitably spam both groups. (Compare troll and flame bait).
Posting a message to a significant proportion of all newsgroups is a sure way to spam Usenet and become an object of almost universal hatred. Canter and Siegel spammed the net with their Green card post.
If you see an article which you think is a deliberate spam, DO NOT post a follow-up - doing so will only contribute to the general annoyance. Send a polite message to the poster by private e-mail and CC it to "postmaster" at the same address. Bear in mind that the posting's origin might have been forged or the apparent sender's account might have been used by someone else without his permission.
The word was coined as the winning entry in a 1937 competition to choose a name for Hormel Foods Corporation's "spiced meat" (now officially known as "SPAM luncheon meat"). Correspondant Bob White claims the modern use of the term predates Monty Python by at least ten years. He cites an editor for the Dallas Times Herald describing Public Relations as "throwing a can of spam into an electric fan just to see if any of it would stick to the unwary passersby."
Usenet newsgroup:
See also netiquette.
2. (A narrowing of sense 1, above) To indiscriminately send large amounts of unsolicited e-mail meant to promote a product or service. Spam in this sense is sort of like the electronic equivalent of junk mail sent to "Occupant".
In the 1990s, with the rise in commercial awareness of the net, there are actually scumbags who offer spamming as a "service" to companies wishing to advertise on the net. They do this by mailing to collections of e-mail addresses, Usenet news, or mailing lists. Such practises have caused outrage and aggressive reaction by many net users against the individuals concerned.
3. (Apparently a generalisation of sense 2, above) To abuse any network service or tool by for promotional purposes.
"AltaVista is an index, not a promotional tool. Attempts to fill it with promotional material lower the value of the index for everyone. [...] We will disallow URL submissions from those who spam the index. In extreme cases, we will exclude all their pages from the index." -- Altavista.
4. To crash a program by overrunning a fixed-size buffer with excessively large input data.
See also buffer overflow, overrun screw, smash the stack.
5. (A narrowing of sense 1, above) To flood any chat forum or Internet game with purposefully annoying text or macros. Compare Scrolling.

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