Sign up ×
Programmers Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional programmers interested in conceptual questions about software development. It's 100% free.

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

In the past week, I've launched several broad searches. I can't find anything about the origin of this term that is more detailed than what Wikipedia says (above)

When did the earliest record of this term enter into use?

share|improve this question

closed as primarily opinion-based by GlenH7, MichaelT, Dan Pichelman, Kilian Foth, gnat Nov 17 '14 at 9:31

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

This question appears to be off-topic because it fails to have done sufficient prior research, or presented it as described on meta. – MichaelT Nov 15 '14 at 2:52
@MichaelT, I revised the body to reflect the work I had done at the time. My searched had really turned up nothing of more substance than Wikipedia, an honestly I feel my edit now only crufts-up an otherwise clean question. This question is quite old, and did quite well, so I hope you can manage a pardon that I no longer have my browser history to link inline for reference. – New Alexandria Nov 16 '14 at 13:59
I have re-read the FAQ to made the question more answer-able, in addition to more clearly stating the research that I performed. I cannot do more research without copying the original research of those that answered the question. I propose this meets the guidelines – New Alexandria Nov 19 '14 at 18:19

2 Answers 2

up vote 22 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.

share|improve this answer

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 ( 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.

share|improve this answer
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
+1 for putting the image of a snake screaming "I AM ALWAYS 4" at me, in my head. – Chris Nov 19 '14 at 18:49
+1 for the idea of a screaming snake. – Loren Pechtel Nov 19 '14 at 19:29

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.