How do you write "hacker" in Japanese?...

For purposes of this question, here is the definition in English:

Hacker /ˈhækər/
1. One who likes to program.
2. One who utilizes technology to go beyond the limits inherent to the design of an application.

Or in other words; I'm not talking about only Black Hats (which is unfortunately the public perversion of the word "hacker" and has an evil connotation in addition to usually referring incorrectly to mostly script kiddies and not true Black Hats anyways ☺)... but instead the definition above (which may include the entire gambit Black-Grey-White, but is not limited to those subsets).

I am inclined to go with Saito Jiro's definition, as found in @KeithMaxx 's answer; however, perhaps there has been further codification/consensus/adoption surrounding [ハッカー] since 2007 in 2017.

Is [ハッカー] still valid in 2017 given the original definition of hacker above?

Thanks! ☺

Expanding what I found in @KeithMaxx 's answer: - [Original Text - Link] ハッカー

ハッキングを行う、もしくは行う能力のある人物のこと。ハッキングとは、システムの構造を理解するために解析する行為で、本来悪い意味ではない。しかし、解析の過程でネットワークやコンピューターの不正利用を行うことが多く、そうした不正利用者をハッカーと呼ぶようになってしまった。元来の意味でのハッカーを擁護する立場からは、クラッカー(破壊者)などの呼称が使われるが、定着していない。 (斎藤幾郎 ライター / 西田宗千佳 フリージャーナリスト / 2007年)

  • [Google Translation] hacker

A person who has the ability to do or hack. Hacking is an act of analyzing to understand the structure of the system, which is not inherently bad meaning. However, the network and in the course of the analysis computer often perform unauthorized use of the over, it has become such a unauthorized user to call a hacker. From the standpoint of defending hackers in the original meaning, the designation of crackers ( destroyers ) etc is used, but it is not fixed. (Saito Jiro writer / Chika Nishida free journalist / 2007)

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    Possible duplicate of Is there a kanji for "hacker"? – macraf Sep 28 '17 at 22:56
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    @macraf That question explicitly focuses on the evil sense of the word, which is not what OP is asking for. – naruto Sep 28 '17 at 23:25
  • @naruto You own answer under the other question explains nuances well enough, – macraf Sep 28 '17 at 23:27
  • macraf I disagree that naruto's answer under the question [Is there a kanji for “hacker”?] directly applies to this question (I read that carefully before submitting my question) as naruto states in his comment for the following reasons: (1) I'm not limiting my answer to only Kanji, (2) that question does not ask with respect to OP definition given above, but the rather unfortunate connotation with Black Hat Hackers. ... that being said, I would like to hear your answer to my question @naruto, unless you agree with keithmaxx 's assessment/answer below. – George 2.0 Hope Sep 29 '17 at 11:45

This heavily depends on your target audience.

If you write something to IT workers, ハッカー can safely refer to non-evil ones. For example, this ロシアの天才ハッカーによる新人エンジニアサバイバルガイド (with almost 6000 likes from Japanese engineers) obviously uses ハッカー in its non-evil sense. Rest assured, people who may be interested in this article will never think he is a criminal :)

If you write something to ordinary people, however, ハッカー is still likely to be misunderstood. If you do need the cool nuance of hacker, you can use ハッカー and explain its definition to avoid confusion (unfortunately there is no good native Japanese equivalent). Phrases like ホワイトハッカー, 正義のハッカー or 善意のハッカー may be used to help people understand better (even though they're theoretically redundant). Alternatively, if you just want to plainly refer to someone who is very good at coding, a safe approach would be スーパープログラマー, 天才プログラマー, etc.

| improve this answer | |
  • 天才プログラマ is a good interpretation for the non-negative meaning for "hacker" rather than スーパープログラマ. I prefer 天才プログラマー to 天才プログラマ in the sense of ordinary Japanese people. – mackygoo Sep 30 '17 at 2:17
  • ありがとうございます、確かに一般向けだと「プログラマー」のほうが普通ですね、直しました。 – naruto Sep 30 '17 at 4:01

Hacker /ˈhækər/
1. One who likes to program.
2. One who utilizes technology to go beyond the limits inherent to the design of an application.

As for today in 2017, there is not a word in Japanese corresponding to "hacker" with the definition written above, so we have no way to write it in Japanese.
ハッカー is understood in Japan only as a "cracker" or a "Black Hat hacker", and the meaning has been understood without change since its introduction to Japan as a loanword.

In spite of the effort of those who are familiar with English language or computer terminologies including Saito Jiro and Chika Nishida, ordinary Japanese people uderstand it as I said above not only in 2017 but also in 2007. So I'm sorry to say, but the definition of ハッカー which is not inherently bad meaning by Saito Jiro and Chika Nishida didn't reflect the actual understanding of common Japanese people.

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    I think the same is (approximately) true in English, actually. Most people outside the field aren't familiar with the non-negative meaning of hacker. See: discussion on English.SE – snailplane Sep 29 '17 at 16:37

By all accounts, the word is written plainly as:


Just as in English, the Japanese also do understand both the negative connotation of the term and its wider use that includes all sorts of people with deep knowledge and engineering abilities when it comes to computing.

You can find the general consensus about the word in this compilation of definitions.

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  • I appreciate your contribution to my question; however after reading the source reference; I clarified my question above... do you feel the codification/consensus/adoption surrounding [ハッカー] since 2007 in 2017 has remained the same? – George 2.0 Hope Sep 29 '17 at 12:04

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