Perhaps from British military slang, possibly based on a Scots word kludge or kludgie (“common toilet”), or perhaps from German klug (“clever”). Alternatively, possibly related to Polish and Russian klucz (“a key, a hint, a main point”).
Alternatively, perhaps from to Dutch Low Saxon klütje (“(little) dumpling, clod”), Jutland Danish klyt (“piece of bad workmanship, klud(g)e”); compare and standard Danish kludder (“mess, disorder”). (Compare klutz.)
There is evidence that kluge (which see) was once a separate word with similar meaning but separate derivation, but the spelling kludge was widely popularized in the US by a 1962 Datamation article on “How to Design a Kludge”, and since then the two words have often been used as alternative spellings of each other.
kludge (plural kludges)
- (electronics engineering) An improvised device, usually crudely constructed. Typically used to test the validity of a principle before doing a finished design.
- (general) Any construction or practice, typically inelegant, designed to solve a problem temporarily or expediently.
- (computing) An amalgamated mass of totally unrelated parts forming a distressing whole.
- Today, kluge and kludge are often used as alternative spellings of the same word, although a distinction in usage can perhaps be detected: in the UK, the connotation of kludge is almost wholly negative (as befits its alleged derivation), while US usage of kluge, following its alleged German derivation, admits some fondness or admiration for the cleverness or functionality underlying a working klu(d)ge.
- To build or use a kludge.