mung (the verb)

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mung (the verb)

Post by Ken Greenwald » Wed Sep 05, 2018 3:41 am

<2018 “You gave up the privacy of your personal data a long time ago, said Ian Bogost in Everything you’ve done, online and off, has been ‘recorded, munged, and spat back at you to benefit sellers, advertisers, and the brokers who service them.’”—The Week, 7 September, page 19>
Munged? The only mung I am familiar with is the ‘mung’ bean. And here it’s used as a verb. It turns out that mung has many meanings including noun and adjective as well as a verb, some of which are now rare or obsolete. Here I will only look at the verb as it is commonly used and mainly as it is used in the above quote. Different dictionaries have different takes on the exact meaning so I will include several of their definitions.

Oxford English Dictionary

mung or munge verb, slang transitive (originally. U.S.).: To spoil, ruin, mangle; (Computing) to make damaging and usually irrevocable changes to (a file); to destroy or corrupt (data, etc.).

Etymology: Origin uncertain; frequently explained as an acronym <the initial letters of mash until no good>
<1959 “Abridged Dictionary TMRC [[Tech Model Railroad Club (Massachusetts Institute of Technology; it was already in use there in 1958.)]], Mung, mash until no good.

<1969 “Mung, to spoil; ruin... He mungs up everything that he tries.”—Current Slang (University of South), page 4 i. 11>

<1983 “The system only mungs things maliciously (this is a consequence of Murphy's Law).”—Hacker’s Dictionary by G. L. Steele, et al., page 97>

<1990 “Perl puts as much text as it can into the field, and then chops off the front of the string so that the next time the variable is referenced, more of the text can be printed. (This munges [[alternate spelling]] your variable, so beware!)”— Programming Perl by L. Wall & R. L. Schwartz, iii. page 107>

<1993 “Mail messages can indeed be transferred readily between UUCP and SMTP MTAs without munging the message.”—UNIX Review, May, Page 20/1>

For additional discussion, see Wikipedia’s mung.

The following was found in,, and Wiktionary:

mung also munge verb: computing informal

1) Manipulate (data)

2) To make incremental changes to (a file, system, etc.) which individually may be reversible, yet which ultimately result in an unintentional irreversible destruction of large portions of the original data and possibly eventually ruining or destroying the entire original file, system, etc.; to make damaging and usually irrevocable changes to (a file); to destroy or corrupt (data, etc.).

3) To modify (an email address) in an easily reversible way, to avoid spam. <‘You could do what anti-spammers have done for years and mung the URLs’>

4) By extension, to spoil, ruin, mangle.

Ken Greenwald – September 4, 2018

Re: mung (the verb)

Post by Phil White » Wed Sep 05, 2018 9:12 pm

New one on me. I like it!
Signature: Phil White
Non sum felix lepus

Re: mung (the verb)

Post by trolley » Thu Sep 06, 2018 1:28 am

When I was a kid, "mung" was used to describe something that was dirty, rotten, slimy, bad, spoiled, disgusting, etc.
"You forgot to put that milk back in the fridge. Now it's gone all mungy"
"Wash your hands. You've got mung all over them."
"Thanks a lot. You really munged that up for me"
I still remember the first time I heard of mung beans. "Oooh. That sounds appealing!"

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