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Many people use the term Snake Case to describe variables or other symbols with_the_form_of_underscores.

When did this term enter into use?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 20 down vote accepted

A person named Jack Dahlgren claims on Quora he invented the term in 2002 when he worked at Intel.

Here's what he posted at above link:

I believe that I am the one who coined this term back in 2002 when I was at Intel and we were evaluating Sharepoint Team Services. Based on the unfortunate tendency of Sharepoint to escape spaces in names with [underscore] characters (among other things) I recommended a policy of using underscores to replace all spaces so that URLs would be slightly shorter and much more readable.

Given the existing "camelCase" name with humps in the middle, I called it "snake_case" or if there were two flat spots, I jokingly called it "road_kill_case". Considering the size of Intel and my interactions with Microsoft product team, it is possible that this is the origin, but it is such a simple phase that I think it could have been invented independently elsewhere too.

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The earliest use I found in Usenet is in a post by Gavin Kistner to comp.lang.ruby on 23rd February 2004:

While writing my ValidForm library (http://phrogz.net/RubyLibs/) I
realized that I was mixing camelCase [which I love] with
whatever_you_call_this_case [which I don't, but I see that Ruby uses a
lot of]. (BTW...what do you call that naming style? snake_case? That's
what I'll call it until someone corrects me.)

Ruby still uses this term today, for example in The Ruby Style Guide:

  • Use snake_case for symbols, methods and variables.

  • Use SCREAMING_SNAKE_CASE for other constants.

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I always search google groups to find the origin of phrases. That's exactly that I did. And after that I started searching bing/google with "snake case" 2003, "snake case" 2002, etc. –  dcaswell Aug 28 '13 at 7:46
SCREAMING_SNAKE_CASE, I love it! –  Ant Aug 28 '13 at 22:21
spinal-case ! –  Ben Lee Sep 7 '13 at 5:43
I'm not an English native speaker and I fail to understand why the "snake". I suppose it's because snake_case looks like a snake someone stepped on or ran over with a bicycle or something. Is that the reason? Also why spinal-case? –  Piovezan Apr 10 at 14:53

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