See Hack (computer game) for the Hack computer game.
A Hack is a person lacking talent or ability (e.g. "hack writer"). It has also become jargon meaning either a kludge, or the opposite of a kludge -- a clever or elegant solution to a difficult problem. As a verb, it means creating or participating in a hack. The term word is commonly (but not exclusively) used in relation to computer programming; see hacker.

The context determines whether the complimentary or derogatory meanings is implied. Phrases such as "ugly hack" or "quick hack" generally refer to the latter meaning; phrases such as "cool hack" or "neat hack" refer to the former.

In MIT lingo, a "hack" is an elaborate and flamboyant student prank. Past MIT hacks include:

  • Covering the university's signature "Great Dome" (which seems to be something of a magnet for hacks) with tin foil
  • Putting a fake (but convincing) MIT Campus Police cruiser on the Dome
  • Decorating the Dome as R2D2
  • Hiding the university president's office by covering its entrance with a fake bulletin board
  • Inflating a huge balloon on the playing field during a Harvard-Yale football game

In a similar vein, a "hack" may refer to works outside of computer programming. For example, a math hack means a clever solution to a mathematical problem. The GNU General Public License has been described as a copyright hack.

For Palm OS users, a "hack" refers to an extension of the operating system which provides additional functionality.

A hack can also refer to the goal of the game hacky sack.

See also: cruftmanship, Wiktionary:hack

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