I'm currently trying to turn some R code (interpreted language) into C code (a compiled language), and I need to explain what is being done and/or why.

Does anybody know of a term/verb for this sort of practice?

  • 3
    Compiler or if you want to sound fancy, transpiler. There is no difference between compiling C (one language) to assembly (another language) and compiling SomeLanguage (one language) to C (another language). That's what a compiler does.
    – user40980
    Feb 15, 2016 at 22:09
  • 2
    They are. They are also called source to source compilers. But they are still compilers.
    – user40980
    Feb 15, 2016 at 22:16
  • 11
    That is more commonly known as "porting".
    – user40980
    Feb 15, 2016 at 22:17
  • 1
    A transpiler is a compiler-like tool that translates one programming language to another. If you are manually rewriting a program in another language, this is called porting.
    – amon
    Feb 15, 2016 at 22:18
  • 5
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because word definitions are not conceptual programming problems as defined in the help center.
    – user22815
    Feb 24, 2016 at 4:17

1 Answer 1


If you are talking about a manual rewrite of the code in another language, then as MichaelT suggested in the comments, "porting" would be the most likely term.

While the historical connotation would be that "porting" is something you do to make software written for one hardware platform or operating system run on a different one, it can certainly also apply to rewriting from one language to another.

e.g. I work in the .NET field, and a lot of popular libraries and packages are ports of ones originally written in Java or other languages. For instance, unit-testing framework NUnit describes itself as "Initially ported from JUnit" (emphasis mine).

As for specifically rewriting code from an interpreted language to a compiled one - I don't think you'll find any word for that.

If, however, you are talking about using a tool which takes in R code and produces C code (thanks @aeongrail for point out that I had overlooked this), then the Wikipedia article on source-to-source compilers offers "transpiling" and "transcompiling" as two possible words.

  • 1
    The transpiling comment is in my opinion a reasonably close answer too. A word specifically for rewriting code from an interpreted language to a compiled one would, at least in my mind, be relatively useful. Someone should get the Oxford dictionary on that
    – aeongrail
    Feb 16, 2016 at 19:10
  • @aeongrail I realized that when I wrote this, I was thinking the OP had specified that this was a manual rewrite. I now realize that they did not - they just said "turn some R code into C code". If we were talking about using a tool to do the work, transpiling would definitely be a word for it Feb 17, 2016 at 3:49
  • @aeongrail added a paragraph to the answer, thanks! Feb 17, 2016 at 5:00
  • Software tools to convert files from one format to another are called translators. Compilers and interpreters are both types of translators. Mar 9, 2016 at 21:37

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