Imagine meeting a friend, but when they open their mouth to speak to you, all you hear is gibberish. When you ask them to explain, the explanation sounds like gibberish too. 

When you’re hearing new programming terms for the first time, it can easily feel like that! Command-line? An array? Huh?

Kids who learn coding are learning a new language that is complete with its own syntax and vocabulary. While not exactly gibberish, it probably seems like it from the outside. Many of these coding terms, definitions, and concepts can feel as foreign as being on a new planet. So, it’s important to understand and feel comfortable with coding jargon before diving into the written portion.

Code documentation and terminology gives a foundation for how a language works and how specific parts of your code will function. By learning the most common programming terms and concepts, kids can feel confident as they read and learn more about specific languages.

This list of the 200 common programming and coding terms is simplified for kids to be easy to understand. Kids can use it as a reference if they are learning or as a refresher if they’ve already started coding.

Browse Terms: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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A

Abstraction

Simplified code or technology that’s easy to use without knowing how it works.

Active Record

Information in a database that’s presented to a user. This term is common in MVC (Model, View, Controller) development.

Agile Software Development

A process of building software in stages. Work is divided into short bursts called sprints. Separate teams may work on different parts of a project.

AJAX

A method for getting data from a web server that uses XML, JavaScript, and HTML.

Algorithm

A sequence of problem-solving steps. For example: Add a series of values together, and then divide by the number of values. These steps produce a mean, or average.

Angular.js

A JavaScript front end framework for building websites. A collection of templates and pre-written code. 

Apache

Apache, or Apache HTTP Server, is an open-source and free web server software. Apache had a significant role in the initial growth of the internet and is also the “A” in LAMP Stack.

API

An application programming interface (API) allows interactions between multiple software programs so programmers have access to data and info from external software. The Google Maps API lets people use satellite photos and maps in their own programs. 

Apprenticeship

An agreement between an employer and an employee. The apprentice (employee) gets training and pay in exchange for work.

Argument

A number, text string, or other value required for a function to run its code. An argument is the x in f(x) = y.

Arithmetic Operators

These operators are used with numbers to perform basic math, for example “+” for addition. Computers have to add and subtract, multiply and divide to do almost anything. 

Array

A single variable that contains a list of data. For example, myNumbers = [0,1,2,3]. Here, myNumbers is an array of numbers.

ASCII  

American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) is a system for electronic communication. It has 128 numbers that stand for letters and other symbols. ASCII is the same all over the world. 

Assignment Operators

An operator that assigns a value to a variable. For example, “=” in Python assigns a value on the right to the variable on the left. 

Asynchronous Learning

Learning that may take place at a different time for each student. The material is usually recorded or pre-made.

Asynchronous Programming Languages

A programming language that doesn’t have to do things in the order they are written. Instead, it can do many things at once. For example, JavaScript.

Augmented Reality

Software that puts digital objects on images or videos of the real world. AR (Augmented Reality) is popular on smartphones.

Autonomous

Self guiding and able to work independently without input from a person. Many drones and some cars are autonomous.

B

Back End

The server side of the internet that the user can’t see. The back end stores, retrieves, and modifies data, it’s essentially the brains of a website. 

Backbone.js

A JavaScript library used mostly for one-page web apps to give structure and handle user input and interactivity.

Binary

A system of two possible states—zero and one. Computers operate in binary, meaning they store data and perform calculations using only zeros and ones.

Binary Alphabet

The numbers 0 and 1.

Binary Numbers

Combinations of zeroes and ones that make up a computer program. 

Bit

A single 0 or 1. It’s the smallest unit of information in computing and digital communications.

Block-based Programming Language

A visual programming language. Block-based programming lets users drag and drop blocks of code to make programs (as opposed to writing text). For example, Scratch is a block programming language.

Blockly

A block programming language created by Code.org. It’s used to teach kids how to code.

Boolean

The “true or false” logic that powers computers. The boolean data type has one of two possible values: it’s either true or false. 

Bootstrap (aka Twitter Bootstrap)

An open-source framework. A group of templates for building the front end of a website. A large set of HTML files, CSS stylesheets, and JavaScript. 

Bug

Broken code that causes a program to malfunction. Bugs often crash a program or make an error message appear.

Build

To build a program is to make it ready for users. Coders may use special tools to create “builds”, or finished applications.  First, coding, testing, and debugging must be completed.

Byte

A byte is eight bits. For example, 0000 0001.

C

C++

A powerful programming language. It’s used to build fast programs. C++ is common in computerized electronic devices. 

Call (a function)

A snippet of code that makes a function begin.

Call (a variable)

To call a variable is to use it somewhere in a program.

Camel Case

A form of capitalization used for naming variables. The first letter is always lowercase, and the first letter of every word after that is uppercase. For example, “thisVariable” is in camel case.

Char

An abbreviation of the word “character.” It refers to a single letter, number, or symbol.

Class (HTML and CSS)

The class attribute specifies one or more classnames for an HTML element. It’s mostly used to point to a class in a CSS page.

Class (Object Oriented Programming)

A template that defines the qualities of everything that belongs to it. Each member of a class is an object. 

Click

To press the button on a computer mouse.

Cloud

A remote data storage location, such as Dropbox. The cloud is a broad term that refers to general internet storage or services.

Code

The written content of a computer program. Code tells the computer what to do, where to store information, and what to show the user. 

Code Review

A process of looking through code for mistakes or bugs. Programmers sometimes do code reviews in teams. This increases their ability to find and fix errors. 

Coding

The process of writing a computer program. Coding is often the majority of what software engineers do. 

Coding Challenge

A problem given to a programmer during a job interview or at school. The programmer must solve it with code, and in the most efficient or effective way possible. 

Coding Languages

A human-readable language used to make computer programs. C, Java, and Python are examples of coding languages.

Command

An order the computer must carry out. Copy, Paste, and Print are examples of commands. 

Command-line

A computer program that works with text-only input from a user. 

Command-line Interface

A text-based way to interact with a computer. There are no buttons, dropdowns, or clickable elements.

Compilation

The procedure that translates code into a format the computer can use. Some programming languages are called compiled languages. They have to be compiled before they can be used. 

Compiler

A program that changes text-based code into the code a computer understands. The result is an application, often a .exe file. 

Computational Thinking

Reformatting a problem so it becomes solvable by a computer. 

Computer Program

A bundle of code that tells a computer what to do. Computer programs do all sorts of things. Some solve math problems. Some play music. Even video games are computer programs.   

Computer Science

The ideas that make it possible to solve problems with computers. A computer scientist knows about bits, bytes, code, and memory. 

Conditional Statements

A statement that helps a computer decide what to do next. A condition statement has an If/Then format. For example, If a = 1, then add a to b.

Constants

A number, text string, or symbol that never changes value while a program is running. Variables can increase or decrease in value. But a constant stays the same.

Crowdsourcing

The act of recruiting big groups of people to work on a project. People may work for free or for pay. But everyone contributes to the final goal.

CSS

The code that controls the appearance of a website. This includes things like font styles, colors, and margins. CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets. 

Cybersecurity

A field of computing that deals with the safety of anything stored on a computer. The primary goal is to prevent hackers from stealing data or money. 

D

Data

Any information that can be stored or used in a computer program. Names, addresses, and phone numbers are data. 

Data Science

The science of finding patterns in data with computers. Facebook, Google, and even the government rely on data science. It helps them make better decisions and more useful products. 

Data Structures

The formats used to store and organize data in a computer program. Data structures make information as easy to access as possible. 

Data Types

The kind of information that a variable or constant can hold. Examples include strings, integers, and booleans.

Database (dbms)

A digital vault that stores information. Databases look like tables in a spreadsheet. A website stores usernames and passwords in a database. 

Debugging

The process of looking for and repairing coding errors. Debugging is an important part of software development.  

Declaration

A single word or symbol used to describe a function or variable. It defines the type of variable or function so the compiler or interpreter knows what to do with it. 

Decompose

To divide a complex challenge into smaller chunks. The goal is to make it easier to solve.

Define (a function)

To create a function and the code that goes inside it. After defining a function, the programmer can call it when needed.

Deployment

The process of launching an application or releasing it to users. 

Digital Footprint

Any piece of information you leave on a website. A blog post, a comment, or a “like” can be a digital footprint. 

Django

A Python framework for the web. Django makes Python website development easier. It’s a collection of templates and libraries. 

DNS (domain name service)

A computer system that turns a written domain name into numbers. These numbers are called an IP (Internet Protocol) address. Computers need IP addresses to find websites.

Double-click

A quick pair of mouse-clicks, usually to open an application.

Drag

To press and hold the button on a computer mouse, and then move the mouse before releasing.

Drop

To let up on the mouse button after clicking and dragging. 

DRY

DRY stands for Don’t Repeat Yourself. This principle states, “Every piece of knowledge must have a single, unambiguous, authoritative representation within a system.”

DSL/Cable

A type of broadband (fast) internet service. It uses phone or coaxial cables.

E

Else Statements

An alternative inside an If statement. It’s essentially tells the computer, “Do one thing if something is true, or else do another thing if it’s not true.”

Endless Loop

A loop that never ends because the condition it depends on is always true. An endless loop is a bug. Every loop should end, otherwise the program would be stuck.

Event

An event is something that triggers a response in a program, for example a mouse click or a button press.

Event Handler

Code that responds to an event such as a mouse click or button press. 

Exception

An error that may be caused by a user or missing piece of data. 

Express.js

The backend framework for Node.js. Express is useful for modules and web apps. Developers can build APIs with Express.

Expression

An arithmetic statement such as 1+2 or x-y.

F

F.A.I.L.

An acronym for First Attempt In Learning. Failure is a regular part of the learning process.

Flask

Flask is a backend web framework written in Python. It’s an API of Python that lets us build up web-applications quickly and easily without special tools or libraries.

For Loop

A block of code that repeats several times. The programmer must specify the number of times the code should repeat. 

Framework

A set of “templates” programmers use to build programs quickly. Frameworks may contain pre-written code, markup, and APIs. Web frameworks exist for the front end and back end. 

Front End

The part of a computer program that a user sees and interacts with. The front end is also called the user interface. 

Full Stack Developer

A developer who works on the back end and front end of a website. 

Function

A chunk of code that takes input, manipulates it, and produces some kind of output. Programmers create a function just once, but they can use it over and over. 

Function Call

A short snippet of code that triggers a function to run. After writing a function, you must call it whenever you want to use it. 

Function Definition

The inner workings of a function. The code inside of a function that makes it work.

G

Git

A version control system that tracks changes to code. Git is open-source, meaning you can access it for free. 

Github

An internet storage hub for code that works with Git. 

H

HAML

HAML (HTML Abstraction Markup Language) is a templating system that cleans and simplifies your HTML. It’s designed to avoid writing inline code in a web document.

Hardcode

Permanent code. Code that a programmer can’t change easily or at all. 

High-level Language

A programming language a person can read and understand. Python is a high level language. Machine code (for example, 00000001) is not.

HTML

The markup language used to build basic websites. HTML determines what shows up on the page. 

HTTP Request

The method a web browser uses to ask for information from a server. HTTP stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol. 

I

IDE (Integrated Development Environment)

A program that developers use to write code. IDEs usually know a language’s keywords and can provide help. They can also run programs. 

If Statement

A conditional statement. It executes a certain block of code if some condition is true. 

Inheritance

The practice of basing a new piece of code on existing code. Programmers use inheritance to create an enhanced version of the original code. 

Input

The information that goes into a computer. User input is one type, which includes text, clicks, and button presses. 

IntelliJ

An integrated development environment (IDE) created for writing and running code. To start writing code in Java, you can use IntelliJ.

Internet

The internet is made of many computers and servers that are connected to each other. The web exists on the internet, but the internet is much larger than the world wide web.

IOS Swift

Swift is an Apple programming language. It combines elements from the C and Objective C languages. 

IP Address

A number associated with a website or a device on the internet. Printers and computers have IP addresses. 

Iteration

One pass of a loop. Each time a block of code is executed counts as one iteration of the for or while loop it belongs to.

J

Java

A programming language developed by Oracle. Java is popular for web and mobile applications. 

JavaScript

A popular coding language for websites and web apps. JavaScript runs on the client side. That means it runs in the browser instead of the computer where the website “lives”.

JavaScript Framework

A web framework in JavaScript used to build apps and websites.

jQuery

A JavasScript library that makes it easy to change elements on a webpage. 

JSON (JavaScript Object Notation)

A common data storage format used in many web apps. JSON files keep data organized. 

Junior Developer

The first job for many coders. Junior developers work under the guidance of more experienced pros.

K

Keywords

Predefined words in a programming language. These words have a special meaning. In an integrated development environment (IDE), keywords appear in special colors.

L

LAMP Stack

LAMP stack uses Linux operating system, the Apache HTTP Server, MySQL, and the PHP programming language. LAMP stack is a popular open-source web platform used by large web companies like Tesla and Lyft.

Linter

A linter, or lint tool, is a basic static code analyzer that checks your program for potential stylistic and programming errors. You can often find linters in your code editor and they are available for various programming languages today.

Linux

Like Windows, Linux is an operating system. But it’s open-source, so it’s free to use. Linux is popular with developers and runs on most web servers.

Local Environment

A personal computer or a server. This is where coders run programs before launching them. A local environment lets coders see their software in action before showing it to the world.

Loop

A block of code that runs over and over. A loop is an important part of any video game or animation. Loops are present in almost all programs. 

Low-level Language

A programming language that isn’t easy for a human to read. Low-level languages make fast computer programs, but they’re difficult to write. 

M

Machine Language

Long combinations of zeroes and ones that power a computer. All programs have to get turned into machine language in order to run.  

Machine Learning

A form of artificial intelligence where programs have the ability to automatically learn and improve from experience. Image recognition is a common type of machine learning. 

Main Function

The first function called after a C or C++ program starts.

Markup Language

A simple language that determines what appears on a computer screen. HTML and XML are markup languages.

MEAN Stack

A complete framework for web development. MongoDB is the M. Express.js is the E. Angular.js is the A. Node.js is the N.

Micro:bit

A tiny computer used in programming courses for kids. The Micro:bit works with lots of sensors and electronic accessories. 

MongoDB

A database for web applications. Mongo uses a JSON-like structure instead of rows and columns. 

MVC

Used for many kinds of development, MVC is a three-part design pattern. It stands for Model View Controller. Each piece of MVC handles a different part of a program. 

MySQL

The most common language used to put info into and take it out of databases. MySQL is often used with another language, like PHP. 

N

Neural Networks

A computer program modeled after the human brain. Neural networks learn over time, just like people.

Node.js

Node.js is a programming tool that lets you run JavaScript code outside of a web browser. 

Null

Empty or without value. Variables and columns in a database can sometimes be null.

O

Object Oriented Programming (OOP)

Programming with classes and objects. A class is simply a prototype that defines what its objects can do. Every object in the class has the class’s properties. 

Object Related Database Management System (ORDBMS)

Two database models in one. It’s part relational database and part object oriented. It has objects and classes as well as tables with rows and columns. 

Objects

A member of a class. It might help to think about a real-world analogy. For example, every person is an object that belongs to the class called “humans”.

Online

Connected to the internet. Someone can be online with a computer, a mobile phone, or another electronic device.

Open-Source Software Development

Software that is free for anyone to use. The code for open-source software is available to developers who want to work on it. They can make improvements and add features.

Operand

The variable or value that will be used in an operation. For example, x and y are operands in the x+y.

Operator

An arithmetic symbol such as a plus sign or a minus sign. Or a multiplication sign, division sign, greater than or less than sign. 

OS (Operating System)

The software that makes a computer work. It’s responsible for organizing files. An operating system also determines what software can run on the machine. 

Output

The content that comes out of a computer. Output may be text or numbers. It could even be sound or video.

P

Package

An organization tool for classes in Java. A package keeps large collections of files neatly ordered. 

Packets

A block of information that moves from one computer to another. 

Pair Programming

Two coders working together on a project. One person codes while the other watches and checks it for errors.

Parameter

The input of a function. A parameter gets replaced by an argument when the function is called.

Pattern Matching

The process of looking for identical characters or data in a dataset.

Persistence

When a piece of data, information, or a web page remains accessible. Persistent data doesn’t get deleted when you close the program. 

PHP

A scripting language frequently used for websites. PHP uses tags like HTML, but a PHP website can do much more and the content can change with user input. 

Pixel

The basic unit of digital displays. A pixel is a little square that can be one of many colors. Every image on a screen is made up of hundreds or even thousands of pixels.

Pointer

Like variables, pointers store information. But a pointer contains a memory address instead of data. It “points” to the address somewhere in computer memory.

Postgresql

An open-source database. To store or retrieve something, a programmer can write code in SQL.

Program

Written code that runs on a computer. Most programs consist of user interfaces and logic. Adobe Illustrator is a computer program. So is Microsoft Outlook. 

Programming

The process of writing code that will become a computer program.

Programming Language

The keywords and special rules people use to write computer programs. Every language has some of its own rules and keywords, but they also have many things in common.

Project-based Learning

Learning by building real projects. It’s possible to learn just by studying concepts, but project-based learning is designed to be fun and to feel like real development. 

Python

An open-source programming language. Python is popular because it’s somewhat easy to learn. Many big applications were made in Python including YouTube and DropBox.

R

A programming language used in data science. 

React

A JavaScript library built by Facebook. Its main purpose is to help with user interface (UI) development. 

React Native

A type of React that lets developers use the same code for different platforms. 

Relational Database Management System (RDBMS)

A program for making and updating databases that use tables.

Repeat  

To perform an action more than once.

REST / RESTful

A set of rules that makes it possible for computers to communicate with each other. REST (Representational State Transfer) makes the world wide web possible.

Ruby

Ruby is a programming language designed to be readable. It’s object oriented and useful for all kinds of applications. AirBnB and GitHub were built on Ruby. 

Ruby on Rails

Ruby’s full-stack web framework. If you want to build web applications with Ruby, Rails makes it easier. 

Run Program

To start a computer program.

Runtime

Runtime is the stretch of time when a computer program is running. 

S

SASS

SASS (Syntactically Awesome Style Sheets) is a scripting language that is interpreted into Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). It helps you keep your CSS organized and lets you create style sheets faster.

Scratch

The block programming language developed by MIT. Scratch is a great first language for young coders. To build a program, all you need to do is click, drag, and drop blocks into place.

Scripting Language

Any language that doesn’t need to be compiled or interpreted. JavaScript is one example.

Scripts

Small programs that do limited steps. Scripts can be part of bigger programs.

Search Engine

Google, Bing, and Yahoo are search engines. They find websites and information based on keywords provided by the user. 

Server

A computer that hosts websites and data. Servers store the information that other people can access on the internet.

Server-side

On the computer that hosts a website instead of on the user’s browser. Sites like WordPress use PHP on the server side and JavaScript on the client (user) side. 

Source Code

The code written by programmers that becomes software. First, the source code has to get translated into machine code by a compiler.

Source Data

The code written by programmers that becomes software. First, the source code may have to get translated into machine code by a compiler. 

Sprint

A period of several days during which a software team works on specific tasks. For each sprint, every member of the team has a certain amount of work to get done.

Sprites

A character or a moving object in a computer game. Sprites respond to button presses, clicks, or other user input.

SQL (Structured Query Language)

The most popular programming language for adding and retrieving information from a relational database.

Stack

Several programs used to build apps for the web or mobile devices. Example stacks are LAMP, WAMP, and MEAN.

Statement

An instruction to a computer written in code. Statements can include text, numbers, and symbols.

Synchronous Learning

Learning that occurs when a student and teacher are online at the same time. This is the kind of learning that happens in CodeWizardsHQ classes.

Syntax

The structure of a language. The rules that state in what order words must appear. Each programming language has its own syntax. 

T

Teaching Language

The language used in a programming course. For young learners, block languages like Scratch are common. In many courses, Python is the chosen teaching language.

Tensor Flow

A library built by Google for creating neural networks. Tensor flow is open-source. 

Terminal

Mac’s text based user interface. In the terminal, users can open files and folders, move things around, and do many other things.

Token

One word, symbol, or operator in a computer program. A plus sign is a token. In most languages, the word “function” is too. 

Training

In machine learning, programs need training. To train a program, you give it as much data as possible. Usually, the more data the better. 

U

URL (Universal Resource Locator)

The text you type into your browser to get to a website. URL stands for Universal Resource Locator.

Usability Testing

The process of observing users to make sure your software works as they expect. Usable software is easy for people to work with. 

User Experience (UX) Design

The design of interactions between a user and a product. The process of making something fun and easy to use. UX isn’t just for software, but that’s where it started.

User Interface (UI) Design

The process of creating the visual parts of a computer program. This includes the buttons, colors, and icons.

Username

A nickname that you type in when you want to enter a certain website or application. 

V

Variable

A container that holds a value, such as a piece of text or a number. The value can change, which is why it’s stored in a “variable”.

Variable Types

The kind of information a variable can hold. Strings, ints, and lists are variable types. 

Version Control

Software that lets coders save several versions of their code. This prevents previous work from getting deleted or lost. It also helps programmers keep track of changes.

W

Website

Several web pages that are linked together and stored on the same server. 

While Loop

A bit of code that runs over and over as long as some condition is true. For example, a loop might run while a certain number is less than 6 and stop once it reaches 6.

Whiteboarding

The process of writing code, pseudocode, or charts with erasable ink. The writing surface is typically glossy white and mounted to a wall or a stand.

Wi-Fi

A way to send and retrieve data without wires. Wi-Fi uses radio waves to transfer information.

X

Xcode

An IDE from Apple for developers who want to build software for Apple devices. 

XML

A markup language that looks similar to HTML and controls the way information shows up on a screen. But XML files also work outside of web browsers.

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