25
votes

Many people use the term Snake Case to describe variables or other symbols with_the_form_of_underscores.

In the past week, I've launched several broad searches. I can't find anything about the origin of this term that is more detailed than what Wikipedia says (above)

When did the earliest record of this term enter into use?

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    This question appears to be off-topic because it fails to have done sufficient prior research, or presented it as described on meta.
    – user40980
    Nov 15 '14 at 2:52
  • 1
    @MichaelT, I revised the body to reflect the work I had done at the time. My searched had really turned up nothing of more substance than Wikipedia, an honestly I feel my edit now only crufts-up an otherwise clean question. This question is quite old, and did quite well, so I hope you can manage a pardon that I no longer have my browser history to link inline for reference. Nov 16 '14 at 13:59
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    I have re-read the FAQ to made the question more answer-able, in addition to more clearly stating the research that I performed. I cannot do more research without copying the original research of those that answered the question. I propose this meets the guidelines Nov 19 '14 at 18:19
26
votes

A person named Jack Dahlgren claims on Quora he invented the term in 2002 when he worked at Intel.

Here's what he posted at above link:

I believe that I am the one who coined this term back in 2002 when I was at Intel and we were evaluating Sharepoint Team Services. Based on the unfortunate tendency of Sharepoint to escape spaces in names with [underscore] characters (among other things) I recommended a policy of using underscores to replace all spaces so that URLs would be slightly shorter and much more readable.

Given the existing "camelCase" name with humps in the middle, I called it "snake_case" or if there were two flat spots, I jokingly called it "road_kill_case". Considering the size of Intel and my interactions with Microsoft product team, it is possible that this is the origin, but it is such a simple phase that I think it could have been invented independently elsewhere too.

11
votes

The earliest use I found in Usenet is in a post by Gavin Kistner to comp.lang.ruby on 23rd February 2004:

While writing my ValidForm library (http://phrogz.net/RubyLibs/) I
realized that I was mixing camelCase [which I love] with
whatever_you_call_this_case [which I don't, but I see that Ruby uses a
lot of]. (BTW...what do you call that naming style? snake_case? That's
what I'll call it until someone corrects me.)

Ruby still uses this term today, for example in The Ruby Style Guide:

  • Use snake_case for symbols, methods and variables.

  • Use SCREAMING_SNAKE_CASE for other constants.

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    I always search google groups to find the origin of phrases. That's exactly that I did. And after that I started searching bing/google with "snake case" 2003, "snake case" 2002, etc.
    – dcaswell
    Aug 28 '13 at 7:46
  • 1
    +1 for putting the image of a snake screaming "I AM ALWAYS 4" at me, in my head.
    – Chris
    Nov 19 '14 at 18:49

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