noun Computers.
  1. software that displays advertisements and is integrated into another program offered at no charge or at low cost.
  2. a type of spyware that gathers information about an Internet user's browsing habits and displays targeted or contextual advertisements.

Origin of adware

1980–85; ad(vertising-supported) + (soft)ware Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for adware


  1. a type of computer software that collects information about a user's browsing patterns in order to display relevant advertisements in his or her Web browser
  2. computer software that is given to a user with advertisements already embedded
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

Word Origin and History for adware

2000 (earlier as the name of a software company), from ad (n.) + -ware, abstracted from software, etc.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper