Mung (computer term)

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Mung or munge is computer jargon for a series of changes to a piece of data, which are often well defined and individually reversible, but which transform the original item into an unrecognizable form. The changes may be destructive, e.g. by corrupting a computer file, or simply concealing, e.g. changes to an email address to disguise it from spambots.

The term was coined in 1958 in the Tech Model Railroad Club at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1960 the backronym "Mash Until No Good" was created to describe Mung, and a while after it was revised to "Mung Until No Good", making it one of the first recursive acronyms. It lived on as a recursive command in the editing language TECO.

Usages of the term appear in munged password (a strong, secure password created through character substitution), data munging (cleaning data from one "raw" form into a structured, purged one) and address munging (disguising an e-mail address).

Munging may also describe the constructive operation of tying together systems and interfaces that were not specifically designed to interoperate. Munging can also describe the processing or filtering of raw data into another form.[1]

Munging implies destruction[dubious ]—to make large-scale and irrevocable changes to a file and to destroy it. Hence in the early text-adventure game Zork, also known as Dungeon, the user could mung an object and thereby destroy it (making it impossible to finish the game if the object was an important item).

See also[edit]

  • Jargon File – a glossary of hacker slang.
  • Slug – an application of munging for creating human-friendly URLs.
  • Kludge, a neologism developed near this time with a similar meaning


  1. ^ "Perl Books - Book: Data Munging with Perl". Retrieved December 30, 2010. 

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