What Does Ohnosecond Mean?

Ohnosecond is a slang term for a type of epiphany in which a technology user realizes they have misused technology and lost large amounts of data or records of their work. It might also be used to refer to other gaffes, such when a user sends an email without including the intended attachment. The word mashes together "oh no" and "second" to refer to that split second when a user realizes his or her mistake.


The term is believed to have been coined by Elizabeth Powell Crowe in her book "The Electronic Traveler" (1993).

Techopedia Explains Ohnosecond

Different kinds of ohnoseconds reflect the nature and use of specific technologies. For example, a common kind of ohnosecond used to happen a lot with earlier versions of Microsoft Windows. Those who did not adequately back up their work could easily lose a lot of data just by pressing the wrong key. Newer versions have different features to mitigate some of the problems with user errors and to make data more persistent as it is entered.

Other kind of ohnoseconds happen when a user just doesn’t pay attention to the controls for a particular system. Many different kinds of technologies on computers, mobile phones and tablets have delete keys. Some of these may have backup commands or other screens that come up to confirm erasing something, so that the user has another chance to reconsider whether they pressed the right button. Although software often attempts to reduce ohnoseconds, user error can never be completely eliminated, so ohnoseconds will always be a part of working with technology.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.