6

MY CONCLUSION:

From the options I have seen so far, the options that seem to me best were, for a generic description of hacking, to say that it is in computatorium irrumpere, with a hacker being a irruptor computatoriorum and the art of hacking, in an academic sense, be ars in computatoria irrumpendi. For specifically malicious hackers, I would use praedo cyberneticus.

I'm looking for a Latin word for "hacker" and for "hacking" in general. I looked around in the internet and haven't found any translations for this concept. Has anyone come across an attempt at translating this and if not does anyone fancy a go at it? I'd prefer a term that was not more than two words long, because more than that seems more like a description than an actual term.

EDIT: To be clearer, I accept answers that are both for "ethical hackers" (i.e. pentesters) as much as for "malicious hackers". If you can distinguish them in your answer, explaining which one you mean, I'd be grateful. If you believe both can be encapsulated into only one term, that is fine too!

EDIT 2: While perusing the stackexchange I found by chance this response that includes an expression that I would classify as representing a malicious hacker: https://latin.stackexchange.com/a/11335/6230

effractarius electronicus. I find it a perfectly valid term for malicious hacker. If anyone has any better ideas and if anyone also has ideas for an expression for "ethical hacker" I'd be grateful.

EDIT 3: putting my hat in the ring, maybe something along the lines of invasor electronicus might be more neutral than *effractarius

EDIT 4: I should have given a definition of hacking from the start. Sorry about that! I'd define hacking as: The art of forcefully gaining access to someone else's computer through electronic means.

This excludes literally stealing physically someone's computer and opening it. The adverb used is forcefully so as to leave the intentions of such act ambiguous. A hacker can be hacking someone's computer by request of the owner, so as to test their security. They can also be doing it maliciously. What makes it a hack is that the computer is being forcefully invaded, the owner did not provide the means for the invasion himself.

EDIT 5: A suggestion I got from the Latin Discord channel was for the act of hacking to be in computatorium irrumpere, because it is the act of breaking into a computer. A hacker would then naturally be an irruptor computatoriorum and the discipline of hacking could be called Ars in computatoria irrumpendi when spoken in an academic context.

3
  • 2
    Since "ethical hacker" is specifically a subversion of the malicious kind of hacker and not "hacker" in the neutral sense of programmer, I actually think effractarius electronicus is perfectly cromulent as a base for that.
    – Cairnarvon
    Jun 10, 2023 at 22:23
  • 1
    @Cairnarvon but "unethical hacker" isn't actually the complete definition of default "hacker" either. That's why Victor BC was right to consider it a hyponym instead of a proper complete translation of the idea. Standard hacking is an entirely amoral idea of passion and capability. Even w/r/t unauthorized entry into systems, it's mostly about the ability to do so and not necessary bad intentions. The Romans were pretty heavy on authority, though, so that would be an argument for treating it all as illicit/ill-intentioned.
    – lly
    Jun 11, 2023 at 12:41
  • 1
    I like the irruptor suggestion. The noun for the action would be irruptio.
    – cmw
    Jun 13, 2023 at 14:24

4 Answers 4

3
+50

In the more criminal sense, you could have:

fur / praedo computatralis.

This describes the activities of e.g. hackers who steal trade secrets or break into computer networks unlawfully, but it would only be used in a pejorative way. You wouldn't use it to describe the participants of hackfest.

The verb related to praedo is praedor, and the corresponding noun would be praedatio. So something like praedatio electronicus or praedatio computatralis would be my initial suggestion on hacking in the unethical sense, with a strong implication of theft in the process.

6
  • Those make s lot of sense, especially praedo, but would you have any suggestions for s positive use of the term Hacker?
    – Victor BC
    Jun 8, 2023 at 2:20
  • @VictorBC I'm still thinking about that. I don't have the time at the moment, but I'm not sure off the tip of my head either, so I need some time to come up with something for that, too. I think it would be something completely different.
    – cmw
    Jun 8, 2023 at 4:41
  • I'll await your suggestion when you can then, thank you! From then we can think up an expression also for "hacking" itself.
    – Victor BC
    Jun 9, 2023 at 0:37
  • Just saw your edit. I think your answer is currently the more complete one. I think that for malicious hacking, praedatio electronica sounds very good! Would you care to try a swing at the concept of ethical hacking? FlatAssembler suggested investigator securitatis computatrorum for an ethical hacker but he failed to provide a term for ethical hacking itself as a discipline. Also I would prefer it to stay in the two words range, as your answer did, which I find very good.
    – Victor BC
    Jun 12, 2023 at 1:10
  • 1
    @VictorBC If you like investigator, the corresponding noun is investigatio. However, it doesn't sound much like hacking to me. That said, I think at some point we're going to run up against anachronism no matter how rooted the word is. Ultimately to get a better term you would need to define the word better, including what the basic mechanism you want translated. There is not always a simple one-to-one correspondence.
    – cmw
    Jun 12, 2023 at 4:24
2

Fun question. I think the very best answer would depend on the period you were aiming to evoke.

Starting from the actual meaning of 'hacker' as a capable, creative, and enthusiastic programmer and the Vocabula Computatralia, I think the defaults would be

  1. Something Greek in antiquity, probably either involving piloting (cyber-) or love of learning and wisdom (philosophus or its roots);
  2. Something built off doctus/or ("the learned") and overdone superlatives in any medieval context; and
  3. Something vernacular-based in any present-day context, whether American English or Italian or Finnish, except (4.) for the Catholics who have St. Expedite/Expeditius.

My own suggestions would be cyberneticus/a ("skilled pilot"); philosophus/a or magister/ra electronicorum ("device hacker"); programmator/trix doctissimus/a ("badass programmer"); explorator/trix doctissimus/a computatralis ("most learned investigator of all things computational"); explicator/trix computatralis (going back to explicare being 'unfolding', 'disentangling', and the root of 'exploit'); Expeditianus/a ("Expeditian"); or—in the present day—repurposing two words that have other meanings in standard Latin.

facinus n. 'deed, action; hence adventure, venture; also crime, wickedness'

It's actually based on Proto-Italic forms of facere but let's ignore that as too general. Let's hack the language and make a new verb by bolting on a 1st conjugation ending to capture doing that whole range of good/badness. Let's throw an agentative suffix on that puppy. Facinator. Doer of Deeds. Haver of Adventurers. Screwer Upper of Things. 'Hacking' would then become facinatio. Perfect.

Alternatively, let's just look at what modern Latin (i.e. Italian) already uses for English 'hacker'. Happens to be genderbending masculine -a stem pirata, which is already—in only the naval sense—perfectly good Latin. It gets better, though. It is just ripped off Greek and the original Greek, apart from the brigandage, comes from

πεῖρα (peîra, “a try, an attempt, an experiment”) +‎ -της (-tēs, agentative suffix)

Again, picture perfect. 'Hacking' would then be piratica (Class.), piratia (Med.), or pirataria if you wanted a clean N.L. hack via Italian.

I'm in favor of either of those and I frankly don't care if Nuntii Latini hasn't realized how perfect they are yet. Of course, the default with English speakers is still going to be something along the lines of hacerius if interlingual clarity is a concern. It's not like English isn't the new Greek as far as being the international language of science at the moment.

5
  • For the curious, Vicipaedia's current crutch for this is to just redirect discussion to their their Hacker News article, which includes a gloss. In other words, currently on the main modern platform for living Latin, the preferred term is hacker with an asterisk. xD
    – lly
    Jun 11, 2023 at 12:50
  • 1
    This is a very good and well thought out answer, thank you! My main worry with words like Pirataria is that it is also used to talk about pirated online content like movies for example. If I were trying to speak of the discipline of hacking (be it maliciously exercised or not), pirataria might obscure more than elucidate.
    – Victor BC
    Jun 12, 2023 at 1:07
  • I appreciate that. It shouldn't be pirataria (I just made that up I thought) but there's definitely that association... Pretty accurate for hacker though too and the trying but dealing with bad associations in general culture seems dead on to me. If you're really only going for 'skillful' there's some of the other avenues of attack though.
    – lly
    Jun 12, 2023 at 8:23
  • I edited the OP to include a definition of the word Hacking. I hope this helps. I should have done so from the start!
    – Victor BC
    Jun 12, 2023 at 15:19
  • @VictorBC Sure, I still like pirata and facinator for the reasons above; the actual current terms are hacker (with gloss) or effractarius electronicus; and your invasor (invasatrix?) computatralis should be fine for what you need if you have an issue with those but want to limit the sense to digital intruders. Hacking would then be invasio electronica.
    – lly
    Jun 13, 2023 at 5:17
2

Plautus uses the term perfossor parietum (dig-througher of walls) to describe a burglar, someone who breaks into a building.

My understanding of hacking is that it's less about theft per se than about breaking into systems. Or preventing that, I suppose.

The parallel phrase would be perfossor computatrorum, which could be perfossor for short.

3
  • I REALLY like this suggestion, it is very neutral regarding the intentions of the user! How would you call the art of hacking, then?
    – Victor BC
    Jun 12, 2023 at 18:18
  • Maybe Ars Perfodiendi Computatrorum
    – Victor BC
    Jun 12, 2023 at 19:01
  • @VictorBC to be grammatical, it needs to be either perfodiendorum computatrorum or perfodiendi computatra. Jun 13, 2023 at 21:36
1

Nuntii Latini calls Linus Torvalds "sollertissimus programmator", I guess that's as good as you can get for "hacker" (in the positive sense of the word).

If you mean "computer security researcher", I'd go with "investigator securitatis computatrorum" or "investigator securitatis computatralis".

1
  • This is very helpful! I was waiting for someone to give a positive use of the term. I think investigator securitatis computatralis sounds good. But what would you call the art of "hacking" itself?
    – Victor BC
    Jun 8, 2023 at 2:22

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.