va·​por·​ware | \ˈvā-pər-ˌwer \

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

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 Poke tbh disrupt sriracha four dollar toast tattooed. Poke lyft vaporware salvia thundercats shabby chic shoreditch. Aaron Jansen, Alaska Dispatch News, "anchor tag test," 19 July 2017 The vaunted mission modules often turned out to be vaporware, and even after more than ten years of development, few if any actually deployed to the fleet. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The Navy Is Looking for a New Frigate to Replace the Troubled Littoral Combat Ship," 11 July 2017 Moreover, some of the Trump administration plans that seemed to point toward higher inflation and higher interest rates are looking like vaporware. Neil Irwin, New York Times, "The Low-Inflation World May Be Sticking Around Longer Than Expected," 26 Apr. 2017 In the auto industry, Musk’s production assertions are viewed as the manufacturing equivalent of vaporware—an advance that is promised but has very little chance of becoming a reality. Jeffrey Rothfeder, The New Yorker, "Elon Musk Has Delivery Issues," 10 Jan. 2017 That ’Ring time puts the ZL1 1LE in the company of near-vaporware from carmakers such as Gumpert, Radical, and Donkervoort. K.c. Colwell, Car and Driver, "2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE," 29 June 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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Dictionary Entries near vaporware


vapor seal

vapor trail





Statistics for vaporware

Last Updated

7 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for vaporware

The first known use of vaporware was in 1983

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a knickknack or trinket

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