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Probably from Yiddish גליטש(glitsh), from German glitschig (slippy), from glitsch (slide, glide, slip) + -ig (-y). Related to gleiten (glide). Cognate with French glisser (to slip, to slide, to skid).

Popularized 1960s, by US space program. Attested 1962 by American astronaut John Glenn, in reference to spikes in electrical current.[1]



glitch (plural glitches)

  1. A problem affecting function.
    Synonyms: bug, hitch, imperfection, quirk
    • 1965, Time magazine:
      Glitches—a spaceman’s word for irritating disturbances.
    • 1999, Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity, The Matrix, written by The Wachowski Brothers:
      A déjà vu is usually a glitch in the Matrix. It happens when they change something.
    They are still trying to work out all the glitches.
  2. (informal, engineering) An unexpected behavior in an electrical signal, especially if the signal spontaneously returns to expected behavior after a period of time.
    Coordinate terms: surge, spike, instability
    • 1962, John Glenn, Into Orbit, London: Cassell:
      Another term we adopted to describe some of our problems was "glitch." Literally, a glitch is a spike or change in voltage in an electrical circuit which takes place when the circuit suddenly has a new load put on it. You have probably noticed a dimming of lights in your home when you turn a switch or start the dryer or the television set.
  3. (computer games) A bug or an exploit.
    Performing this glitch gives you extra lives.
  4. (music) A genre of experimental electronic music since the 1990s, characterized by a deliberate use of sonic artifacts that would normally be viewed as unwanted noise.
    Hypernym: electronic music
    Hyponym: glitchcore
    Coordinate term: noise
    • 2011, Simon Reynolds, Bring the Noise: 20 Years of Writing About Hip Rock and Hip Hop, Soft Skull Press (→ISBN), page 313:
      You can hear this in the contemporary genre of ‘glitch’, where artists like Oval and Fennesz make radically beautiful music using the snaps, crackles and pops emitted by damaged CDs, malfunctioning software, etc.

Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


glitch (third-person singular simple present glitches, present participle glitching, simple past and past participle glitched)

  1. To experience an intermittent, unexpected, malfunction.
    My computer keeps glitching; every couple of hours it just reboots without warning.
  2. (computer games) To perform an exploit or recreate a bug while playing a video game.
    His character will glitch into the wall and out of the level.

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ Moradi, Iman. (2004) Glitch Aesthetic