Foobar

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What Does Foobar Mean?

Foobar is a slang term used in the IT world as a placeholder to refer to generic examples or temporary files or programs that are to be deleted. The technical term for a word like foobar is a metasyntactic variable. These types of terms are used to name variables, programs or other parts of code.

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Techopedia Explains Foobar

A placeholder usually plays a role in situations where a programmer or developer may need to name a variable or other item, but may not have a name in mind. Where naming becomes extremely arbitrary, developers have come up with convenient defaults. One of these is foobar. Another is "foo", the first syllable of foobar, where bar is used as a second placeholder. So a temporary file may be named foobar.txt, foobar.jpg, etc.

It’s important not to confuse foobar with a similar term, fubar, which developed in the U.S. military. Fubar describes a chaotic and problematic situation; fubar has not such connotation in IT. It’s also useful to note that although foobar is an arbitrary placeholder, it has become popular enough to be used in naming some technologies, such as foobar2000, a freeware audio player for Windows.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

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.