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From small talk; according to Alan Kay (one of its creators):[1]

The name actually appeared before the first Smalltalk design, which was done in 1971. I had mentioned to someone that the "prose" of then current programming languages was lower than a cocktail party conversation, and that great progress would have been made if we could even get to the level of making "smalltalk". It then occured[sic] to me that this word was also a great pun for a language aimed at the world of small children.

As for hype: Another motive for "smalltalk" was the practice at the time of naming operating, and other, systems (which hardly did anything) after mighty indo-european gods, such as Thor, Zeus, Odin, etc. I figured that if Smalltalk ever did something neat, then people would be pleasantly surprised.

Proper noun[edit]


  1. (computer languages) An object-oriented, dynamically-typed, reflective programming language.

Derived terms[edit]


  1. ^ “Where did the name Smalltalk come from?”, in Squeak/Smalltalk[1], 15 December 2006, archived from the original on 2007-01-03.


Alternative forms[edit]


Borrowed from English small talk.


  • IPA(key): /ˈsmɔːlˌtɔːk/, /ˈsmɔlˌtoːk/
  • (file)


Smalltalk m or (rare) n (strong, genitive Smalltalks, plural Smalltalks)

  1. small talk
    Synonym: Plauderei
  2. a conversation involving small talk
    Synonym: Plauderei

Usage notes[edit]

  • Generally masculine; the neuter is very rare.


Further reading[edit]

  • Smalltalk” in Duden online
  • Smalltalk” in Digitales Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache