COBOL Fingers

What Does COBOL Fingers Mean?

COBOL fingers is a once-common term used to describe a fictional health condition caused by typing Common Business Oriented Language (COBOL) code into a computer.


COBOL fingers is not an actual disease. The basic idea behind the term is that COBOL code is considered verbose or excessive by many developers and programmers, leading to the tongue-in-cheek idea that writing in COBOL can wear down the fingers or cause various ergonomic problems.

Techopedia Explains COBOL Fingers

COBOL is a language that was used extensively in past decades. While it is now rarely used for new projects, there is still a significant amount of COBOL out there.

New languages have improved the efficiency of typing code into computers. A basic look at simple COBOL programming shows how commands and other elements have a syntax that is relatively labor-intensive to type. For example, basic text output examples show the typing of various linear code sequences with numeric identifiers, as well as different divisions and references that are multiple characters in length. In contrast, popular modern languages like Java, C# or C have more modern syntax that many developers find more acceptable and versatile for modern use.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse 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 explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…