The earliest attestations of the word glitch were in the 1940s among radio operators and television repairmen, who started using it to describe intermittent bursts of static. By the 1950s, it started to refer to computers acting funny, as well, and it became a mainstream word in the 1960s after NASA's expeditions popularized it. Glitch's etymology is not known for certain, but there is one strong contender for the origin: the Yiddish word glitsh, which meant "a slip" (with a "mistake" connotation"). That would hail from German glitschen, "to slip" (with a "losing footing" connotation") and eventually trace back to Proto-Germanic glidan, or "to glide". Finally, we can reconstruct it all to the Proto-Indo-European root ghel, meaning "shine", presumably because you glide on shiny surfaces. Interesting how the word denotes less and less of a mistake as you go back in time there.
Adam Aleksic is a 220-month-old, 2800-ounce high school senior with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law. Adam will be studying linguistics at Harvard University in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd