On the linguistic productivity of the word spam

The word spam has spawned off its own corner of the English language.

spamdexing inflating one's rank in a Web index
sping Trackback spam
splog A fake blog
spim Spam instant messages
spasms Spam SMS messages
spit VoIP spam
sporgery Spamming with a forged From line
spambot A computer which sends spam
blam spam comments on a blog

I'm impressed by how productive the root word spam has become.

Gratuitous cross-promotion: My colleague Terry Zink occasionally writes about spam on his Cyber Security Blog.

Comments (13)
  1. Adam Rosenfield says:

    I'm not convinced; the only words of those which I've heard before are spamdexing and spambot.

  2. Alistair says:

    You might be interested to know that in French the word for spam is pourriel, which is a portmanteau of poubelle (trash bin) and courriel (itself a portmanteau for courrier electronique = email).  The start of the word could also be related to the word pourri, which means rotten.

  3. bzakharin says:

    Like Adam, I'm not sure how widespread the usage is. In my case I've heard of spim (though not recently, and it was always with an explanation of the meaning, so even that is probably not used much). Spambot is the only one that sounds unremarkable to me to the extent that I'd use it myself. Not sure I've ever heard spamdex. The others I wouldn't even be able to guess what they mean without an explanation.

  4. Mike says:

    It has changed the meaning of the word a lot over the last decade or so though.  I never think of the Austin, MN based canned meat product when I hear the word Spam anymore without a qualifier.  "I hate Spam, the meat product."

    What wonders Austin, MN has brought to the world.  Both Spam and John Madden hail from there.

  5. Patrick Hughes says:

    I hereby coin the term "Spamisms"

  6. Mike Dunn says:

    There's also a related term "bacn" which never caught on. It means emails that are not spam (because you agreed to receive them) but don't really convey much useful information, such as notifications from social networking sites and blogs.

  7. Justin G. says:

    Obligatory spam link:


  8. Chris says:

    Instead of Blam, I propose we call them Spomments or Spamments.

  9. c says:

    other than "spambot", none of these words exist.

  10. Rangoric says:


    Yeah, they don't exist. 167,000 Google results just means that there are 167,000 copies of this site in an attempt in spamdexing, er wait a sec…

    (Although a few that are words also used for other things turn up more, but still tend to have something related to this in their results)

  11. Dan F says:

    @Alistair: That's almost poetic

  12. James says:

    Sweet! (Which naturally is a spam tweet with sping.)

  13. c says:

    I guarantee you there are not 167,000 results, if you were to actually click through. Google takes a guess at the number of results. It *usually* overestimates.

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