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American television viewers have been startled by the recent and apparently growing use of the term app in commercials for portable telephones and other digital devices. It's apparently meant as a shortened form of "application" or just a computer program that can run on such a device. Those unacquainted with the term may hear the announcer's declaration as describing "a nap"! A few viewers may even interpret it as a reference to APP, the Association of Professional Piercers.
One has to wonder what purpose this confusing and undignified term serves. Wouldn't the sense be clear if the commercial said "a program" or "software"? For non-trivial programs they could even call it "an application" without ambiguity.
Microsoft's Encarta Dictionary, 2001, lists the term:
|app n computer application (informal)|
and my other, older dictionaries don't list the term at all. Why would a dignified corporation choose to use an informal and potentially confusing term when established alternatives are available?
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Last modified 9 May 2009