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

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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 But those rumors never seemed to go anywhere, earning a kind of vaporware status similar to the infamous Duke Nukem Forever. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, 2 June 2023 In this cycle, the tech industry’s woes aren’t the result of dot-com vaporware. George Avalos, The Mercury News, 18 Feb. 2024 Share this story Photo by Victoria Song / The Verge There’s always a certain degree of vaporware at CES. Victoria Song, The Verge, 9 Jan. 2024 Put another way, most (if not all) of the presentation was based on vaporware rather than hardware. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, 4 Oct. 2023 But what happens if the vendors of vaporware try to run a dream factory? Madeline Ashby, WIRED, 17 July 2023 This story, of new Russian fighting vehicles introduced with great fanfare and turning into vaporware, has been repeated over and over again in recent years. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 8 Mar. 2023 In another era that was called vaporware. Aaron Pressman, Fortune, 1 Oct. 2020 But the product ended up as vaporware. Michael Kan, PCMAG, 3 May 2022

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 22 May. 2024.

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
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