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hacker: [originally, someone who makes furniture with an axe] n.
   1. A person who enjoys exploring the details of programmable
   systems and how to stretch their capabilities, as opposed to most
   users, who prefer to learn only the minimum necessary.  2. One who
   programs enthusiastically (even obsessively) or who enjoys
   programming rather than just theorizing about programming.  3. A
   person capable of appreciating hack value.  4. A person who is
   good at programming quickly.  5. An expert at a particular program,
   or one who frequently does work using it or on it; as in `a UNIX
   hacker'.  (Definitions 1 through 5 are correlated, and people who
   fit them congregate.)  6. An expert or enthusiast of any kind.  One
   might be an astronomy hacker, for example.  7. One who enjoys the
   intellectual challenge of creatively overcoming or circumventing
   limitations.  8. [deprecated] A malicious meddler who tries to
   discover sensitive information by poking around.  Hence `password
   hacker', `network hacker'.  The correct term is cracker.

The term `hacker' also tends to connote membership in the global community defined by the net (see network, the and Internet address). It also implies that the person described is seen to subscribe to some version of the hacker ethic (see hacker ethic, the.

It is better to be described as a hacker by others than to describe oneself that way. Hackers consider themselves something of an elite (a meritocracy based on ability), though one to which new members are gladly welcome. There is thus a certain ego satisfaction to be had in identifying yourself as a hacker (but if you claim to be one and are not, you'll quickly be labeled bogus). See also wannabee.