Mung (computer term)

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Mung or munge is computer jargon for a series of potentially destructive or irrevocable changes to a piece of data or a file.[1] It is sometimes used for vague data transformation steps that are not yet clear to the speaker.[2] Common munging operations include removing punctuation or html tags, data parsing, filtering, and transformation.[2]

The term was coined in 1958 in the Tech Model Railroad Club at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[1] 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.[citation needed] It lived on as a recursive command in the editing language TECO.[3]

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.[2]

As the "no good" part of the acronym implies, munging often involves irrevocable destruction of data.[1] 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. ^ a b c Raymond, Eric S. "The Jargon File, version 4.4.8". Retrieved 15 June 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c Cross, David (2001). Data Munging with Perl. Greenwich, CT: Manning. p. 4. 
  3. ^ Gesswein, David. "OS/8 Help File". Retrieved 15 June 2015. 

External links[edit]