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Probably from Yiddishגליטש(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]


  • IPA(key): /ɡlɪt͡ʃ/
    • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɪtʃ


glitch (countable and uncountable, plural glitches)

  1. (countable) A problem affecting function.
    Synonyms: bug, hitch, imperfection, quirk, gremlin
    They are still trying to work out all the glitches.
    • 1965, Time magazine:
      Glitches—a spaceman’s word for irritating disturbances.
    • 1999, The Wachowski Brothers, The Matrix (motion picture), spoken by Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss):
      A déjà vu is usually a glitch in the Matrix. It happens when they change something.
    • 2021 July 20, Masayuki Yuda, “Foodpanda faces backlash after calling Thai protest 'terrorism'”, in Nikkei Asia[1], Nikkei Inc, retrieved 2021-07-20:
      Some claimed on Monday that Foodpanda's account deletion system reported being under maintenance and could not process their request. It is unclear if the flock of requests had created a system failure, or Foodpanda had cut access on purpose, or the timing was merely a coincidence. The glitch only added fuel to online sympathizers' outrage.
  2. (countable, 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. (video games) A bug or an exploit.
    Performing this glitch gives you extra lives.
    • 2021 September 4, Paarnahkrin, “8.550 War Assets - How to achieve the highest possible score”, in Steam Community[2], archived from the original on 07 December 2021, Paarnahkrin's Guides‎[3]:
      How to reach 8.555 ー The glitch
      You need to have Wrex alive and sabotage the cure. Without the glitch, Wrex will discover the lie and try to kill you after Priority: Citadel II when you try to go back to the Normandy. Triggering this scene will remove Wrex and the Clan Urdnot in the war assets list
      The glitch is easy, when you want to leave the Citadel, simply go to a fast travel shuttle, then in a DLC area (Dr. Bryson's Lab or Silversun Strip)
      Then again the shuttle, and go back to the Normandy from here
  4. (uncountable, 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.
  5. (astronomy, countable) A sudden increase in the rotational frequency of a pulsar.

Derived terms[edit]


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

  1. (intransitive, especially of machines) To experience an unexpected, typically intermittent malfunction.
    My computer keeps glitching; every couple of hours it just reboots without warning.
    • 2020 September 1, Nicholas Barber, “Five stars for I'm Thinking of Ending Things”, in BBC[4]:
      Jake’s parents, played unnervingly well by Colette and Thewlis, are like alien robots who have been programmed to behave like human beings, but keep glitching.
  2. (intransitive, video 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.


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

Further reading[edit]