va·​por·​ware | \ ˈvā-pər-ˌwer How to pronounce vaporware (audio) \

Definition of vaporware

: a computer-related product that has been widely advertised but has not and may never become available

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The practice of marketing products before they are available for sale is common to many industries, but especially the computer industry, where technological advancement is rapid and competition cutthroat. Unforeseen glitches occasionally result in the marketing of products that ultimately never see the light of day. Since the 1980s, such phantom computer products have been referred to by the word vaporware, which is modeled after familiar computer terms such as software and hardware. The word plays on the humorous notion of vapors being equated with rumors surrounding the development of a product that appears to be on its way but that never actually materializes.

Examples of vaporware in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Announcing a phone like this a year in advance is a strange move, and doing so gives the whole endeavor a whiff of vaporware. Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, "The Surface Phone is real! Microsoft surprises with a dual-screen Android phone," 2 Oct. 2019 This is simultaneously a recipe for vaporware and for autocracy. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "Trump’s incompetence and authoritarianism are both scary," 15 Nov. 2018 There's one final thing Atari insisted the VCS is not: vaporware. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Atari’s new VCS isn’t a console, but it isn’t quite a computer either," 13 June 2019 So this another example of overblown Russian military vaporware or is there something more to it? David Hambling, Popular Mechanics, "The Truth Behind Russia’s 'Apocalypse Torpedo'," 18 Jan. 2019 Most, if not all of the missiles are still under development or, like the mystery ICBM, are what might be considered vaporware. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "North Korea Paraded New Missiles, and They're a Big Deal," 17 Apr. 2017 This year's event featured future vaporware like a giant combat walker robot and other concepts far off into the future, such as chameleon camouflage. David Hambling, Popular Mechanics, "The Science of Russia's New Silent Sniper Rifle," 29 Aug. 2018 In the midst of a crypto-gold rush that has bred widespread scams, wild overvaluations, and sketchy vaporware, LO3’s blockchain application is one that, at least in theory, makes sense both technically and philosophically. David Z. Morris, Fortune, "Siemens to Invest in Blockchain-Based Smart Grid Builder LO3," 24 Dec. 2017 But amazingly the hat does not appear to be vaporware, as one YouTube user has posted an unboxing video complete with audio playback. John Patrick Pullen, Fortune, "Facebook Updates the ‘Journalism Project’ to Fight Fake News," 21 July 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'vaporware.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of vaporware

1983, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for vaporware

vapor entry 1 + -ware (in software)

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Time Traveler for vaporware

Time Traveler

The first known use of vaporware was in 1983

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Cite this Entry

“Vaporware.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Nov. 2020.

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