Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Computer Science The programs, routines, and symbolic languages that control the functioning of the hardware and direct its operation.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Encoded computer instructions, usually modifiable (unless stored in some form of unalterable memory such as ROM). Compare hardware.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. (computer science) written programs or procedures or rules and associated documentation pertaining to the operation of a computer system and that are stored in read/write memory

Etymologies

From soft +‎ -ware, by contrast with hardware ("the computer itself"). Coined 1953 by Paul Niquette; first used in print by John Tukey 1958. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • CNC Software, Inc. is proud to introduce Mastercam® for SolidWorks®, which combines the world's leading modeling software with the world's most widely-used CAM software*.

    2BakSa.Net

  • Commercial software development: the * software* is the product.

    RealClimate

  • NICKJ AirRadar is an excellent piece of software, and it deserves a review that reflects your opinion of it * as a piece of software*.

    MacUpdate - Mac OS X

  • Working in software is often one of the most thankless tasks (.. and I don't work in games).

    My Latest Crazy Idea: Sexy Developerland

  • Given the fact that (a) that Indian legislators have clearly chosen to exclude software from the list of patentable inventions (b) that open source software is important to India's long-term strategic interests, and (c) there is a growing global outcry against software patents, we hereby request you to ensure that the Draft Patent Manual reflects the will and intent of the Indian Parliament.

    Archive 2008-05-08

  • The term software, on the other hand, is ambiguous.

    EPO Wins Patent for Jesuitical Casuistry

  • The term software engineering was used occasionally in the late 1950s and early 1960s, though some argue that software engineering was coined by F.L. Bauer.

    In the New Year…

  • At home, I realized that the latest version of the label software doesn't replace characters when exporting, at least not for thirty days.

    elfpvke Diary Entry

  • In other news, I've rolled the label software out to 18 out of 19 branches now. 4 of those branches are in full production, another 6 or 7 at least are partially in production.

    elfpvke Diary Entry

  • Afterwards, Neil was mobbed, and he said one more interesting thing that I can't help but repeat: that he doesn't like the term software architect because it pre-supposes a rigidity in software when what is so wonderful about it is that it is very plastic, something people write for ourselves and can change how we like …

    Redfin Corporate Blog: Notes on Redfin, technology, real estate and life at a startup.

Comments

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  • License, Licence or Licensed

    March 20, 2010

  • I would say that the -ware words (silverware, hardware, earthenware) all tend to be collective nouns and take singular verbs. That doesn't mean, however, that someone cannot distinguish between different "softwares" (in the sense of different "kinds/species of software", not different individual programs) and be perfectly well understood. But this would be an anomalous usage.

    November 22, 2009

  • Yes, you'd be unlikely to hear "there are various softwares available". Instead you'd talk about multiple "software packages" or "programs", or say "various kinds of software".

    November 22, 2009

  • I thought 'software' was like 'sheep' or 'fish'. It meant both singular and plural.
    What VO said.
    :-)

    November 22, 2009

  • I take it to be a mass noun: software is code, water is wet...

    November 22, 2009

  • Isn't software plural? I would never refer to "a software" but "some software" is fine. Or "a piece of software" or "a software program."

    November 22, 2009

  • A question for you: If you are using software in the sense of "many programs", do you still need to use it as a singular?

    November 22, 2009