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cyber-

Computer-mediated electronic communications.

From the first element of cybernetics, the science of communications and automatic control systems, itself derived from Greek kubernētēs, steersman.

Cyber‑ is one of the newest and in the 1990s also one of the most fertile combining forms in the language. The science-fiction writer William Gibson coined cyberspace in the early 1980s to describe a shared but intangible virtual reality space within computers. At about the same time cyberpunk came into being to describe the genre characterised by William Gibson's work, set in lawless future societies dominated by computer technology.

When public interest in the Internet blossomed in the early 1990s, journalists and commentators borrowed cyber‑ to refer to the online world, shifting its sense so it referred to electronic communications in general. This form became fashionable in the mid-nineties, with many hundreds of coinages recorded; only a few are likely to have a lasting place in the language. Cyber, as an adjective for electronic communication, is now also a word in its own right. For examples, See also e‑1.

Examples of words in cyber‑

cyberart

art using computers or computer visualization methods

cybercash

electronic money stored in a smart card

cybercitizen

either a member of the online Internet community, or someone who uses the Net to exercise democratic rights in their community, say through electronic discussion forums or electronic voting

cybercommerce

an older term for electronic commerce (see e‑1)

cybercrime

in theory any criminal activity carried out using electronic communications, but principally electronic theft of money or identity or industrial espionage

cyberdemocracy

another name for electronic democracy, exercised by a cybercitizen

cyberian

a high-tech hippy who embraces technology

cyberlawyer

either someone versed in the law applying to electronic communications, or one who studies its implications for the law

cyberpunk

a sub-genre of science fiction, relating to lawless future societies dominated by computer technology

cybershopping

buying things via the Net, electronic shopping

cyberspace

the notional environment in which communication over computer networks occurs (adjective cyberspatial)

cybersquatting

registering an Internet domain name with the sole purpose of selling it on at a profit

cybersurfer

someone who surfs the Internet

cyberterrorism

the use of electronic techniques to cause damage to the computer systems or communications of an opposition group

cyberwar

using electronic methods to knock out the command systems of an enemy

Copyright © Michael Quinion 2008–. All rights reserved. Your comments are very welcome.