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A term broadly used to describe hardware and software research and development, and modification. "To hack" essentially means "to plow," and refers to assembling and modifying computer systems and programs. Programmers with high technical capabilities are given the honorary title of hacker.
The word can also refer to invading another person's computer, but the correct term is "cracking." Programmers who are adept at cracking refer to themselves as hackers. As a result, hacking is often taken to mean a criminal act.
Person 1 : Hi, I'm a hacker!
Person 1 : No you moron, that would be a cracker.
by linuxroxxx August 27, 2011
A person skilled with the use of computers that uses his talents to gain knowledge. Tere are three classifications of hackers:

White-hat (hacking for the enjoyment of exploration)

Black-hat (hacking to find exploits and system weaknesses, see cracker)

and Grey-hat (someone who is a little of both)
by Chuck May 06, 2003
A person (usually possessing thorough knowledge in no single field), who is talented at devising superficial "fixes," which are nothing more than auxiliary work-arounds for problems which eventually have to be solved "correctly" by a "trained professional."

Hackers are self-motivated, and learn through experimentation and persistence, as opposed to through "traditional" means.

Computer hackers do not completely fit this definition. Due to the high artificiality of computer technology itself, computer hackers must be highly knowledgable before they can implement their first successful "hack." For them, "hacks" are the product of brilliant insight and thorough investigation, rather than the talent and natural law that go with hacking in more humanity-driven fields, such as entertainment or sports.

Chess masters have a similar level of mental discpline, although many hackers tend to lack the attention span necessary to be good at chess :')

Many people would tend to disagree, but then again many people are not skillful enough to be called a "hacker."
by handle187 October 31, 2003
An individual capable of solving complex non-intuitive problems in a seemingly intuitive manner. The processes and techniques used are not necessarily methodical to the observer, but yet achieve results significantly and consistently faster than known experience would predict. A hacker is not defined in terms of intention or purpose, but rather by the talented single-mindedness of method. A hacker is not a hack.

Hackers are not limited to computer hacking.

Commentary: The movies "Tron" (1982) and "War Games" (1983) significantly influenced the common use of "hacker" (by non-hackers) in reference to computer hackers. The widespread use of the Internet beginning around 1993 made millions of unwitting parents concerned that their adolescent child was turning into a hacker. Some of the twit kids even believed it themselves. Please see reference to "lacker" for a more appropriate name for these individuals.
A hacker typically uses genius or intuitive methodology to solve complex problems.
by CHOK June 25, 2006
A group of people that:

a) Enter computer systems by means of hacking
b) Chop wood
Get those hackers out of the forest's mainframe.
by Bastardized Bottomburp September 13, 2003
Back in the 70's, hacker was a term given to those fortunate enough to know how to code. During the 80's and 90's it was a term meant for those who worked their way through systems, without approval. Now, its meaning has been completely replaced by cracker, and hacker means nothing more than any idiot that can decipher a small page of HTML. Those who are computer illiterate still widely use the word in its 80s/90s sense. Not to be confused with hax0r, meaning a person who dreams to one day know how to hack, or another name for l337sp33k.
Of the 80s/90s version, there were three primary denominations:
The casual Hacker-hacks to learn information for his own curiosity.
The White Hat Hacker-hunts down and destroys malicious code.
The Black Hat Hacker-designs and releases malicious code;gathers dangerous information;brings down sensative systems.
"The hackers are working very hard."
"The hackers have managed to find their way into the system."
"The hackers are getting on my nerves."
by Almighty Sapling November 07, 2005
The media's definition of the real term malicious cracker. A hacker used to be a well respected individual who loved to tinker with gadgets. In the early 90's the term changed to: A person who maliciously cracks software and or passwords. The real term "Malicious cracker" was not used because the media was careful not to offend with something close to a derogatory term. So to prevent criticism they formed a word that would not offend most people. The correct term for what society labels a hacker is malicious cracker. There three kinds of crackers. (White hats), who detect security flaws and then report them. (Black hats), who maliciously use them to their benefit and (Grey hats), who do both. A group of hackers were described in most of the media during the late early to late 90's. There were too major groups "The brotherhood" (Black hats) : a Canadian group of hackers and "Legion of Doom" (White hats): A group of well known hackers from the east coast of the United States.
Today there is a well known group of hackers (Grey Hats) known as Anonymous.
by Phaedrus2nd March 23, 2010
1. (Traditional Defination) A hacker is one who is able to aptly code, or wire hardware without the need for a manual, instruction book or other documentation.

2. (Modern Defination) A hacker is also one who is skilled in the art of obtaining access to a computer to which is defened by a security program.

3. (Modern Defination) A hacker can also be considered someone who uses of an assistive device in some online games. See: wall hacks aimbot myg0t cheaters

1. I want you to hack that new program as fast as you can, we have to meet our release date.

2. Damn hackers, wiped out the database.

3. "Damn OGC Newb. Get some skill."
by Teegtahn June 22, 2006