Semantic Satiation and How It Can Effect Your Code.

Does a word get used so often that it seems to stop making sense to you? This is known as semantic satiation/saturation and it can effect your code.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

“Semantic satiation is a psychological phenomenon in which repetition causes a word or phrase to temporarily lose meaning for the listener, who then perceives the speech as repeated meaningless sounds. Extended inspection or analysis (staring at the word or phrase for a lengthy period of time) in place of repetition also produces the same effect.” From Wikipedia

There was a time when myself and a few others were practicing a bit of code and whether it was due to the long hours spent in front of our computers that day or just the lack of sleep from the previous day, the word “character” stopped making sense. It just did not look like a “real word” anymore, almost as if it were misspelled. We all pretty much commented on this to the same effect. I’ve had this happen before many times and it turns out that there is actually a term for this occurrence “Semantic Satiation/Saturation”. It can leave you feeling like that picture above especially when you are coding for long hours.

When we are coding we want to have our code make as much sense to ourselves and others as possible. The use of our words in variables, state, props, file names and the like, as a rule, are meant to have meaning to what they are related to usually.

What a character!

Even though we want to be as descriptive as possible, using the same word over and over again in our code can have a downside and become the opposite of what we are trying to achieve. Just look at all of those “characters” above and let me know when your nose stops bleeding.

Mean what you say and say what you mean but also, switch it up a little so it doesn’t become too confusing. Happy Coding characters!