cy·​ber·​punk ˈsī-bər-ˌpəŋk How to pronounce cyberpunk (audio)
: science fiction dealing with future urban societies dominated by computer technology
: an opportunistic computer hacker

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Cyberpunk and Literature

In science fiction circles, "cyberpunk" is a genre that often features countercultural antiheroes trapped in a dehumanizing high-tech future. Its roots extend back to the technical fiction of the 1940s and '50s, but it was years before it matured. The word cyberpunk was coined by writer Bruce Bethke, who wrote a story with that title in 1980. He created the term by combining "cybernetics," the science of replacing human functions with computerized ones, and "punk," the raucous music and nihilistic sensibility that became a youth culture in the 1970s and '80s. Not until the 1984 publication of William Gibson's novel, Neuromancer, however, did "cyberpunk" really take off as a term or a genre.

Examples of cyberpunk in a Sentence

the bank had to overhaul its online banking system after a cyberpunk broke into the accounts of thousands of customers
Recent Examples on the Web An assassin who attacks Adam at a gas station is outfitted in a cyberpunk ensemble; another is a feral Aussie with huge mutton chops. Katie Walsh, Los Angeles Times, 11 Jan. 2024 Its styling is wild and weird and wonderful, a medley of organic forms bisected by creases and LED lighting to form what looks like a cyberpunk canvas. Daniel Golson, The Verge, 27 Oct. 2023 The car silently and accurately slinks around curves, with the precision of sci-fi cyberpunk killer snake assassin. Rob Verger, Popular Science, 9 Aug. 2023 Her songs draw on the cyberpunk heroism celebrated in our pages and pixels. WIRED, 8 Aug. 2023 AIs, a man with the dead LK CEO’s memories, and brain implants shape this dizzyingly subversive cyberpunk thriller. Charlie Jane Anders, Washington Post, 18 July 2023 For the record, each model had crimped blonde cyberpunk hair, deep red lips, intense stares and stomps. Tara Gonzalez, Harper's BAZAAR, 27 June 2023 The collision of this Vitruvian Vulture with Gwen's neon animation and the cyberpunk tech of Spider-Man 2099 (Oscar Isaac, first teased in the post-credits scene of the first movie) is absolutely mind-blowing to watch. Christian Holub,, 31 May 2023 But where the 1993 film took the brothers into a gonzo cyberpunk fever dream, the new Super Mario Bros. plays it safe. Christopher Cruz, Rolling Stone, 4 Apr. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'cyberpunk.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1983, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of cyberpunk was in 1983


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Cite this Entry

“Cyberpunk.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Feb. 2024.

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