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From the seminal text adventure game Adventure (c.1975), where it served as a "magic word"; possibly originated as a mnemonic for the subscripts of the cross product in mathematics.


  • enPR: zĭz'i, IPA(key): /ˈzɪzi/
  • Rhymes: -ɪzi
  • (file)


xyzzy (uncountable)

  1. Used as a placeholder word or metasyntactic variable.
    • 2001, Simson Garfinkel, Gene Spafford, Web Security, Privacy and Commerce:
      Especially bad are "magic words" from computer games, such as xyzzy. These magic words look secret and unguessable, but in fact they are widely known.
    • 2002, Mark Gaynor, Network Services Investment Guide:
      Suppose stock xyzzy is selling at $100.00 on January 1, 2002. The classic call option is to pay a fixed amount per share (say $10) for the option to buy...
    • 2005, Ruslan Mitkov, The Oxford Handbook of Computational Linguistics:
      The path that relates xyzzy to XYZZY cycles many times through the single state of the transducer.
    • 2006, Venkat Subramaniam, Andy Hunt, Practices of an Agile Developer:
      How you even form the sentence makes a difference; if you say, "We need technology xyzzy because...," then the battle for common sense is already lost.
    • 2008, Randal L Schwartz, Tom Phoenix, Brian Foy, Learning Perl:
      Perl doesn't care if you call your loop labels things like XYZZY or PLUGH.