See more synonyms for hacker on Thesaurus.com
  1. a person or thing that hacks.
  2. Slang. a person who engages in an activity without talent or skill: weekend hackers on the golf course.
  3. Digital Technology.
    1. a person who has a high level of skill in computer technology or programming; a computer expert or enthusiast: My brother is a real hacker—he fixed my laptop in no time.
    2. a person who circumvents security and breaks into a network, computer, file, etc., usually with malicious intent: A hacker got into my computer remotely and wiped my hard drive! The company has hired hackers to test system security.

Origin of hacker

1200–50 for def 1 Middle English (as surname); see hack1, -er1; 1975–80 for def 2


  1. a person, as an artist or writer, who exploits, for money, his or her creative ability or training in the production of dull, unimaginative, and trite work; one who produces banal and mediocre work in the hope of gaining commercial success in the arts: As a painter, he was little more than a hack.
  2. a professional who renounces or surrenders individual independence, integrity, belief, etc., in return for money or other reward in the performance of a task normally thought of as involving a strong personal commitment: a political hack.
  3. a writer who works on the staff of a publisher at a dull or routine task; someone who works as a literary drudge: He was one among the many hacks on Grub Street.
  4. British.
    1. a horse kept for common hire or adapted for general work, especially ordinary riding.
    2. a saddle horse used for transportation, rather than for show, hunting, or the like.
  5. an old or worn-out horse; jade.
  6. a coach or carriage kept for hire; hackney.
  7. Informal.
    1. a taxi.
    2. Also hackie.a cabdriver.
  8. Slang. a prison guard.
verb (used with object)
  1. to make a hack of; let out for hire.
  2. to make trite or stale by frequent use; hackney.
verb (used without object)
  1. Informal. to drive a taxi.
  2. to ride or drive on the road at an ordinary pace, as distinguished from cross-country riding or racing.
  3. British. to rent a horse, especially by the hour.
  1. hired as a hack; of a hired sort: a hack writer; hack work.
  2. hackneyed; trite; banal: hack writing.

Origin of hack

First recorded in 1680–90; short for hackney
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for hacker

operator, technician, programmer

Examples from the Web for hacker

Contemporary Examples of hacker

Historical Examples of hacker

  • The bishop and Hacker melted into tears as they bade their master farewell.

    Charles I

    Jacob Abbott

  • This morning Hacker and Axtell were hanged and quartered, as the rest are.

  • Then Colonel Hacker said I might go home, and keep at home, and not go abroad to meetings.

    George Fox

    George Fox

  • Vastly impressive and weird is Mr. Hacker's "And there was a great cry in Egypt."

  • I directed my hacker to my apartment, and grabbed the phone in the bubble.

    Modus Vivendi

    Gordon Randall Garrett

British Dictionary definitions for hacker


  1. a person that hacks
  2. slang a computer fanatic, esp one who through a personal computer breaks into the computer system of a company, government, etc


  1. (when intr, usually foll by at or away) to cut or chop (at) irregularly, roughly, or violently
  2. to cut and clear (a way, path, etc), as through undergrowth
  3. (in sport, esp rugby) to foul (an opposing player) by kicking or striking his shins
  4. basketball to commit the foul of striking (an opposing player) on the arm
  5. (intr) to cough in short dry spasmodic bursts
  6. (tr) to reduce or cut (a story, article, etc) in a damaging way
  7. to manipulate a computer program skilfully, esp, to gain unauthorized access to another computer system
  8. (tr) slang to tolerate; cope withI joined the army but I couldn't hack it
  9. hack to bits to damage severelyhis reputation was hacked to bits
  1. a cut, chop, notch, or gash, esp as made by a knife or axe
  2. any tool used for shallow digging, such as a mattock or pick
  3. a chopping blow
  4. a dry spasmodic cough
  5. a kick on the shins, as in rugby
  6. a wound from a sharp kick
See also hack off

Word Origin for hack

Old English haccian; related to Old Frisian hackia, Middle High German hacken


  1. a horse kept for riding or (more rarely) for driving
  2. an old, ill-bred, or overworked horse
  3. a horse kept for hire
  4. British a country ride on horseback
  5. a drudge
  6. a person who produces mediocre literary or journalistic work
  7. Also called: hackney US a coach or carriage that is for hire
  8. Also called: hackie US informal
    1. a cab driver
    2. a taxi
  1. British to ride (a horse) cross-country for pleasure
  2. (tr) to let (a horse) out for hire
  3. (tr) informal to write (an article) as or in the manner of a hack
  4. (intr) US informal to drive a taxi
  1. (prenominal) banal, mediocre, or unoriginalhack writing

Word Origin for hack

C17: short for hackney


  1. a rack used for fodder for livestock
  2. a board on which meat is placed for a hawk
  3. a pile or row of unfired bricks stacked to dry
verb (tr)
  1. to place (fodder) in a hack
  2. to place (bricks) in a hack

Word Origin for hack

C16: variant of hatch ²
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 hacker

"a chopper, cutter," perhaps also "one who makes hacking tools," early 13c. (as a surname), agent noun from hack (v.1). Meaning "one who gains unauthorized access to computer records" is attested by 1983, agent noun from hack (v.2). Said to be from slightly earlier tech slang sense of "one who works like a hack at writing and experimenting with software, one who enjoys computer programming for its own sake," 1976, reputedly a usage that evolved at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (however an MIT student from the late 1960s recalls hack (n.) being used then and there in the general sense of "creative prank," which clouds its sense connection with the "writing for hire" word, and there may be a source or an influence here in hack (v.1)).



"to cut roughly, cut with chopping blows," c.1200, from verb found in stem of Old English tohaccian "hack to pieces," from West Germanic *hakkon (cf. Old Frisian hackia "to chop or hack," Dutch hakken, Old High German hacchon, German hacken), from PIE *keg- "hook, tooth." Perhaps influenced by Old Norse höggva "to hack, hew" (cf. hacksaw). Slang sense of "cope with" (such as in can't hack it) is first recorded in American English 1955, with a sense of "get through by some effort," as a jungle (cf. phrase hack after "keep working away at" attested from late 14c.). Related: Hacked; hacking.



"person hired to do routine work," c.1700, ultimately short for hackney "an ordinary horse" (c.1300), probably from place name Hackney, Middlesex (q.v.). Apparently nags were raised on the pastureland there in early medieval times. Extended sense of "horse for hire" (late 14c.) led naturally to "broken-down nag," and also "prostitute" (1570s) and "drudge" (1540s). Sense of "carriage for hire" (1704) led to modern slang for "taxicab." As an adjective, 1734, from the noun. Hack writer is first recorded 1826, though hackney writer is at least 50 years earlier. Hack-work is recorded from 1851.



"tool for chopping," early 14c., from hack (v.1); cf. Danish hakke "mattock," German Hacke "pickax, hatchet, hoe." Meaning "an act of cutting" is from 1836; figurative sense of "a try, an attempt" is first attested 1898.



"illegally enter a computer system," by 1984; apparently a back-formation from hacker. Related: Hacked; hacking. Earlier verb senses were "to make commonplace" (1745), "make common by everyday use" (1590s), "use (a horse) for ordinary riding" (1560s), all from hack (n.2).



"to cough with a short, dry cough," 1802, perhaps from hack (v.1) on the notion of being done with difficulty, or else imitative.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper