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The word swizzle can refer to an operation performed in GPU algorithms:

[The] ability to compose vectors by arbitrarily rearranging and combining components of other vectors.

Swizzle (computer graphics) - Wikipedia

I've found another reference to "swizzle" in a CS context when dealing with pointers, i.e. Pointer swizzling.

The word has always struck me in its impact and distinctiveness. Who decided on the word swizzle? When did they decide to use the word swizzle in this way?


It seems swizzle as a verb has a historical definition in the context of alcoholic beverages, meaning to "stir (a drink) with a swizzle stick." (Google’s English dictionary, Oxford Languages) A swizzle stick being an apparent common term for an instrument used to stir cocktails.

Perhaps the originator of the term in the CS context enjoyed drinking rum swizzles or had a background in mixology?

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  • $\begingroup$ @GuyCoder Normally, I would have done just that. However, only one of the articles I cited contains any cited references and it only goes so far as to call swizzle, "funny-named." Hence, this question. $\endgroup$ Feb 13, 2022 at 11:27
  • $\begingroup$ Sure, given the historical significance of the verb "swizzle", it makes sense how the connection could have been made to its usage in a computing context. But at that point I'm just guessing. It's not proof of how the verb came to be used this way. Who decided on the word swizzle? When did they decide to use the word swizzle in this way? $\endgroup$ Feb 13, 2022 at 11:45
  • $\begingroup$ In etymologies I've seen elsewhere, citations of usage are given as evidence of a word's history. Given the relative youth of these concepts in CS, I was expecting to easily find documents using "swizzle" that could offer more context. I was not, hence this question. I have edited the question to better clarify what I'm after. $\endgroup$ Feb 13, 2022 at 11:58

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