Python, C++, Ruby and Java all use exceptions. To them, “exception” means, “nifty piece of syntax kinda like goto.” Language specifications and communities haven’t defined “exception” in a way humans can understand.

It’s the only incomprehensible term out there. Anybody who’s programmed for five hours can explain “if” to a human. Same goes for “else”, “while” and “for”. Deeper concepts like “function” and “class” can be clarified, too. Humans can even grasp flawed terms — like, “int” meaning “32-bit signed integer” and not “integer”.

But “exception” is completely incomprehensible. Ask ten beginners and ten experts to define “exception” to a…

Adam Hooper

Journalist, ex software engineer

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