crufty /kruhf'tee/ /adj./ [origin unknown; poss. from
`crusty' or `cruddy'] 1. Poorly built, possibly over-complex.
The canonical example is "This is standard old crufty
DEC software". In fact, one fanciful theory of the origin of
`crufty' holds that was originally a mutation of `crusty'
applied to DEC software so old that the `s' characters were tall
and skinny, looking more like `f' characters. 2. Unpleasant,
especially to the touch, often with encrusted junk. Like spilled
coffee smeared with peanut butter and catsup. 3. Generally
unpleasant. 4. (sometimes spelled `cruftie') /n./ A small crufty
object (see frob); often one that doesn't fit well into the
scheme of things. "A LISP property list is a good place to store
crufties (or, collectively, random cruft)."
This term is one of the oldest in the jargon and no one is sure of
its etymology, but it is suggestive that there is a Cruft Hall at
Harvard University which is part of the old physics building; it's
said to have been the physics department's radar lab during WWII.
To this day (early 1993) the windows appear to be full of random
techno-junk. MIT or Lincoln Labs people may well have coined the
term as a knock on the competition.
Return to Cool Jargon of the Day