- A system, especially a computer system, that is constituted of poorly matched elements or of elements originally intended for other applications.
- A clumsy or inelegant solution to a problem.
Origin of kludgeProbably alteration of mid-20th century American military slang kluge complex device with a simple function perhaps of imitative origin or perhaps after the Kluge (paper feeder) a piece of printing equipment first manufactured in 1919 by Brandtjen & Kluge, Inc., and reputedly difficult to repair
- (electronics engineering) an improvised device, usually crudely constructed. Typically used to test the validity of a principle before doing a finished design.
- (general) any construction or practice, typically inelegant, designed to solve a problem temporarily or expediently.
- (computing) an amalgamated mass of totally unrelated parts forming a distressing whole [from the Datamation article mentioned in the Usage Note below].
(third-person singular simple present kludges, present participle kludging, simple past and past participle kludged)
- to build or use a kludge
Today, the terms kluge and kludge are widely believed to be alternative spellings for the same word, although a distinction in usage can perhaps be detected: in the U.K., the connotation of kludge is almost wholly negative (as befits its alleged derivation), while U.S. usage, following the older spelling kluge and the alleged German derivation, admits some fondness for the cleverness or functionality underlying a kludge that works.
Ample jokes have been made about how these terms self-referentially apply to their own tangled history.
Perhaps from British military slang, possibly based on Scots word kludge or kludgie (“common toilet”) or from the German klug (“clever”); possibly related to Polish and Russian klucz (“a key, a hint, a main point”)
Cf. German Klōß, diminutive Klößchen "clod", Low Saxon klut, klute, Dutch kluit, perhaps related to Low German diminutive klütje "dumpling, clod", Danish Jutland dial. klyt "piece of bad workmanship, kludge", and Standard Danish kludder "mess, disorder". If so, related to klutz.
There is evidence that kluge was once a separate word with similar meaning but separate derivation, but the spelling kludge was widely popularized in the U.S. by a 1962 Datamation article, “How to Design a Kludge”.
kludge - Computer Definition
Also spelled "kluge" and pronounced "klooj." A crude, inelegant system, component or program. It may refer to a makeshift, temporary solution to a problem as well as to any product that is poorly designed or that becomes unwieldy over time.