AskDefine | Define glitch

Dictionary Definition

glitch n : a fault or defect in a system or machine [syn: bug]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • /glɪtʃ/
  • Rhymes with: -ɪtʃ


  1. A problem affecting function; a bug; an imperfection.
    They are still trying to work out all the glitches.


Extensive Definition

A glitch (also known as "bug") is a short-lived fault in a system. The term is particularly common in the computing and electronics industries, and in circuit bending, as well as among players of video games, although it is applied to all types of systems including human organizations and nature. The term derives from the German glitschig, meaning 'slippery.'

Electronics glitch

In electronics, a glitch is an electrical pulse of short duration that is usually the result of a fault or design error, particularly in a digital circuit. For example, many electronic components such as flip-flops are triggered by a pulse that must not be shorter than a specified minimum duration, otherwise the component may malfunction. A pulse shorter than the specified minimum is called a glitch. A related concept is the runt pulse, a pulse whose amplitude is smaller than the minimum level specified for correct operation, and a spike, a short pulse similar to a glitch but often caused by ringing or crosstalk.
A glitch can occur in the presence of race condition in a poorly designed digital logic circuit.

Computer glitch

A computer glitch is the failure of a system, usually containing a computing device, to complete its functions or to perform them properly. It frequently refers to an error which is not detected at the time it occurs but shows up later in data errors or incorrect human decisions. While the fault is usually attributed to the computer hardware, this is often not the case since hardware failures rarely go undetected. Other situations which are frequently called computer glitches are:
  • Incorrectly written software (software bug)
  • Incorrect instructions given by the operator (operator error) (this might also be considered a software bug)
  • Undetected invalid input data (this might also be considered a software bug)
  • Undetected communications errors
  • Computer viruses
  • Computer security cracking (sometimes erroneously called "hacking")
  • Another human error unrelated to the computer


Canadian Oxford lists it as a 20th century word of unknown origin. Some reference books, including Random House's American Slang, say it comes from the German word glitschen ("to slip") and the Yiddish word gletshn ("to slide or skid"). Either way it's fairly new. So new, in fact, that on July 23, 1965, Time magazine felt it necessary to define it in an article: "Glitches — a spaceman's word for irritating disturbances."

Video game glitches

In video games, a glitch is a term used by players to indicate a programming error which results in behavior not intended by the programmers. There are several different types of glitches that occur in video games. Programming errors in games vary from incorrectly displayed graphics, game-freezing or crashes, data corruption, and others. The occurrence of some glitches can be replicated deliberately by doing a series of certain tasks in a specific order; the infamous Minus World glitch in Super Mario Bros. is a simple example. Another is the spike glitch in the 16-bit version (Sega Genesis) of Sonic the Hedgehog. This glitch occurs when Sonic jumps into a set of spikes, and bounces back into a second or same set and dies, with no temporary invincibility. Sometimes, three deaths can occur with a shield being lost, rings being lost, and a life being lost. In the world of modern video games the term glitch now has another, more common meaning. In recent years, the term glitch has come to be known more often as an oversight by programmers allowing players to do things and go places that are obviously unintended. Recently, "Glitching" in this sense has become more and more popular in the world of video games, although many gamers find exploiting glitches to be taboo due to concerns that glitching may give some gamers an unfair advantage were they to perform glitches in regular multiplayer matches. This negative image has helped keep glitching a mostly quiet subculture in gaming, but despite the negative image of glitchers, many sites have been created that are dedicated to glitching. This has brought glitching out into a more public view, and thus it is growing exponentially in popularity.
Some glitches are a result of accessing unused, unprogrammed space. For example, in Pokémon Red and Blue, there are 151 Pokémon programmed, yet there are 256 spaces. This leaves 105 spaces, and when accessed, produces a various assortment of glitches, often termed "Glitch Pokémon". Also, some spaces may result in "Glitch Trainers."
Many glitches in games involve leaving a map's boundaries in a multiplayer game, or going through what should be physical objects. These require the player to know where to go and what method to use to get to their desired location.
The practice of exploiting glitches in video games is known as "glitching". In some people's eyes, it is a negative thing. However, there are many "glitchers" who look for glitches solely with other friends in private matches. The reason for the negative connotation of the term is due to players glitching during multiplayer matches to have an advantage over other players (e.g. falling through the ground and shooting at other players from below). This gives the other players reasons to dislike glitching, because they may not know how to do the glitch that is assisting the "glitcher", thus creating an unfair disadvantage for the people not "glitching".
glitch in German: Glitch (Elektronik)
glitch in French: Glitch
glitch in Dutch: Glitch
glitch in Portuguese: Glitch
glitch in Simple English: Glitch
glitch in Finnish: Glitch
glitch in Swedish: Glitch
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