va·​por·​ware ˈvā-pər-ˌwer How to pronounce vaporware (audio)
: a computer-related product that has been widely advertised but has not and may never become available

Did you know?

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.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Health tech gadgets tend to end up as vaporware, and this isn’t even the first time a smart menstrual cup has been pitched. Victoria Song, The Verge, 3 Feb. 2023 It’s time for a dive into the world of Russian military vaporware. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 9 Dec. 2022 Of course, Trump is famous for issuing legal vaporware, and the general counsels of the big media companies won’t be quaking in their Manolos. John Cassidy, The New Yorker, 4 Oct. 2022 Mark Spiegel call him a fraud as a result, and criticize prototypes as little more than pretty vaporware that will never make it to market. Jeremy Kahn, Fortune, 29 Sep. 2022 Truthfully, the ride-along didn’t inspire much confidence that Faraday or its FF91 will be more than vaporware, at least in the near future. Abigail Bassett, Ars Technica, 12 Sep. 2022 Often, demoware becomes vaporware, announced for shock and awe in order to discourage competitors, but never released at all. Gary Marcus, Scientific American, 6 June 2022 After all, Google chose to showcase the Pixel Tablet, which is vaporware at best right now. Chris Smith, BGR, 26 May 2022 Wall Street dismissed it as yet another piece of Musk vaporware. Andrea Chang, Los Angeles Times, 25 Apr. 2022 See More

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

Word History


vapor entry 1 + -ware (in software)

First Known Use

1983, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of vaporware was in 1983


Dictionary Entries Near vaporware

Cite this Entry

“Vaporware.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


va·​por·​ware ˈvā-pər-ˌwa(ə)r How to pronounce vaporware (audio)
: a computer-related product that has been widely advertised but has not and may never become available
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

What Did You Just Call Me?

  • brown chihuahua sitting on the floor with squinting eyes looking at the camera
  • Before we went to her house, Hannah told us her aunt was a flibbertigibbet.
Spell It

Hear a word and type it out. How many can you get right?

Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?