Richard Rivera’s Expanded Definition of Programmer

TO: Prof. Jason Ellis
FROM: Richard Rivera Urgiles
DATE: 03/24/2021
SUBJECT: Expanded Definition of Programmer


This is an expanded definition that explores the word’s history of this term as a general education for undergraduates that are studying computer systems technology. The term I am defining is “Programmer”. The context that I use the term in is a person that writes code or programs/develops applications whether it be on computers or on mobile devices. Therefore, whenever my colleagues and I are discussing about ways to troubleshoot an application, I consider all of us programmers because the topic is about code or in relation to software languages. In the following document, I discuss several definitions of the term, I compare and contrast different contextual uses of the term, and finally I write my own working definition of the term based on these definitions and contextual examples.


Within the Oxford English Dictionary, one of the definitions stated, “A person who writes computer programs or software” (Butterfield et al., 2016). Personally, I would say this is more of a modern definition because this is how people refer to others that code or develop applications.  

This next definition comes from the Oxford Reference and it states, “Person who builds and constructs the programme” (Gorse et al., 2020). In this definition, it is like calling someone a general constructor. In other words, it is saying that it is a person that creates a blueprint, does all the planning, and creates it whether it be a house, a theater play, structures in general, or an application. I never use this word like that because my mind has been wired in a way where the term “programmer” has one solid definition and that is specifically people that actually do coding to develop applications or even websites. In a way, it relates to the previous definition I discussed because you are still constructing something and that includes applications. The only difference is that this definition is more flexible or can be used in different contexts.


In a New York Times newspaper, it states “He took a Remington Rand course in ‘programming’ for computers and is now chief programmer for the machine” (The New York Times, 1958, p. 39). The quote is direct in what it is trying to say, a person decided to take a class involving coding and he became successful to gain a rank as a chief for a computer they were working on. It is clear that when they used the term, they were referring to the first definition from Oxford English Dictionary because the topic or the context of it is about computers.

Here is another quote from a book called ‘Excel 2003 VBA programmer’s reference’, “If you are a new VBA programmer, then reading this chapter will help you optimize your code writing and debugging experience” (Paul, 2004, p. 63). In this context, it still relates to the first definition about coding because they explicitly state the word “code” in this quote. I believe the book is meant to teach the programmer, or coder about a programming language known as Visual Basics for Applications which in short is VBA because the quote does state if the reader has any experience with that specific language and if not, they will learn the basics reading the said chapter.

For the final quote, it also comes from the New York Times newspaper and it states, “Small fry is ‘Big Town Girl,’ which is filling that spot on the Globe’s bill… A typically average programmer, it gives the long arm of coincidence one of the stiffest workouts it has had this year and invites Claire Trevor… and Alan Baxter to animate one of the wildest scenarios ever devised by four desperate script writers” (Nugent, 1937, p. 23). From this quote/context, I am not entirely sure what the definition of the term programmer really means but from my educated guess, it could relate to the second definition. The quote could be saying that for a constructor, it is difficult to animate a play or a scene. In other words, it can be very difficult to construct an animation of some sort, nothing coding related.

Working Definition

Most of the context that I found for the term means it’s a person that programs or codes on a computer therefore that is the definition that I will still proceed to give to whoever it may be that asks, “What is a programmer?”. To be more specific, someone who develops web applications or applications in general through various programming languages.


Oxford. (n.d). Programmer. In Oxford English Dictionary. Retrieved February 26, 2021, from programmer, n. : Oxford English Dictionary (

Oxford University Press. (2020). Programmer. In Oxford Reference. Retrieved February 26, 2021, from Programmer – Oxford Reference (

The New York Times. (1958, November 3). Blind Man Guides Data on Thruway. The New York Times. TimesMachine: November 3, 1958 –

Paul, K. (2004). Excel 2003 VBA programmer’s reference. Indianapolis, IN.:Wiley Pub. Excel 2003 VBA programmer’s reference – New York City College of Technology (

Nugent, F. S. (1937, December 13). The Screen. The New York Times. TimesMachine: December 13, 1937 –

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