What Does Mouse Mean?

A mouse is a small handheld input device that controls a computer screen’s cursor or pointer in conjunction with the way it is moved on a flat surface. The mouse term name originates from its likeness to a small, corded and elliptical shaped device that looks like a mouse tail. Some mouse devices have integrated features, such as extra buttons that may be programmed and assigned with different commands.


Because the mouse reduces the use of a keyboard, its invention and continuous innovation is considered one of the most important breakthroughs in computer ergonomics.

Techopedia Explains Mouse

The mouse was invented in 1963 by Douglas C. Engelbart from Stanford and later pioneered in 1981 by the Xerox Corporation. Computer users were generally skeptical about the mouse invention until approximately 1984, when the original Apple Macintosh (Macintosh 128K) was released.

Early mouse devices connected to computers through a cable or cord and were characterized by a roller ball integrated as a movement sensor underneath the device. Modern mouse devices use optical technology, where cursor movements are controlled by a visible or invisible light beam. Many models feature wireless connectivity through various wireless technologies, including radio frequency (RF) and Bluetooth.

The three main mouse device types are:

  • Mechanical: Built with a trackball underneath the mouse and mechanical sensors, allowing easy movement in all directions
  • Optomechanical: Similar to the mechanical type but uses optical, rather than mechanical, sensors to detect trackball movement
  • Optical: The most expensive. Uses a laser to detect mouse movement, has no mechanical parts and reacts more precisely than other types.

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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…