You Keep Using That Word: Hack

Posted By Debbie on March 18, 2015

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.


As a transitive verb:

  1. To cut or chop with repeated and irregular blows.
  2. To cut or mutilate as if by hacking.
  3. To cope with successfully; manage.

As an intransitive verb:

  1. To write or refine computer programs skillfully.
  2. To use one’s skill in computer programming to gain illegal or unauthorized access to a file or network.

As a noun:

  1. A person who is a professional at doing some sort of service, but does crappy work.
  2. A really bad cough.

At some point, people started using it to mean a very clever solution to a problem.

When you say you “hacked your life,” what do you mean? You probably didn’t mutilate it. You didn’t computer program it.

I recently saw an ad offering a “dinner hack.” What was it? It was a paid service that brings you ingredients and recipes in a box; you then do the cooking of said recipe with said ingredients.

Is that even a very clever solution to a problem? By that logic, is a TV Dinner a life hack?

How about these?



Does that mean any helpful tip someone has is now a hack or life hack?

You keep using that word. Stop using that word.