A slang term for a computer enthusiast, i.e., a person who enjoys learning programming languages and computer systems and can often be considered an expert on the subject(s). Among professional programmers, depending on how it used, the term can be either complimentary or derogatory, although it is developing an increasingly derogatory connotation.
The pejorative sense of hacker is becoming more prominent largely because the popular press has coopted the term to refer to individuals who gain unauthorized access to computer systems for the purpose of stealing and corrupting data. Hackers, themselves, maintain that the proper term for such individuals is cracker.
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