Origin of dongleProbably arbitrary coinage.
- (computer hardware) Any small device which plugs into an electronic device, typically a computer, and alters its functionality. Common examples include wireless modems, software copy protect devices, and adapters. Some USB keyboards and mice include USB to PS/2 adapter dongles, enabling their use on machines with PS/2 ports.
- (computer hardware) A hardware device utilized by a specific application for purposes of copy protection.
Apparently from dangle.
dongle - Computer Definition
A small hardware device that dangles from a cable that plugs into a port to add some sort of capability. In asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) installations, for example, the customer generally is provided with a number of dongles that are microfilters that plug into telephone sets or fax machines that share the ADSL line. The filters prevent the telephones and fax machines from causing interference between the analog voice channel and the digital data channel when they go off hook or on hook, or when the telephone or fax receives a ringing signal. Dongles often are used for smart cards and other security devices that provide copyright protection for very expensive software programs or that protect access to virtual private networks (VPNs). See also ADSL, cable, channel, hardware, interference, microfilter, port, software, and VPN.
Originally slang for a plug-in module to copy protect software (see hardware key), the term is used for any small module that plugs in and sticks out of a socket; for example, USB flash memory drives and other USB devices such as a wireless mouse receiver or cellular air card. If it uses a very short cable, it may still be called a dongle. See HDMI dongle, cellular dongle, PC Card dongle and USB drive.