I am reading 8.Cutting-Storing-Text in elisp introduction

Which complain the word kill as

(The use of the word “kill” in Emacs for processes which specifically do not destroy the values of the entities is an unfortunate historical accident. A much more appropriate word would be “clip” since that is what the kill commands do; they clip text out of a buffer and put it into storage from which it can be brought back. I have often been tempted to replace globally all occurrences of “kill” in the Emacs sources with “clip” and all occurrences of “killed” with “clipped”.)

The word "kill" here does not function literally it does to kill a process which do destroy it. It merely cut out text as clip.

The author "Robert J. Chassell" mentioned it as "an unfortunate historical accident", but did not elaborate it.

What's the historical accident?


Emacs is a derivative of TECO. The history is long and complicated, and I don't have much first-hand knowledge of it, but TECO had a Kill command for removing text from the buffer. This is documented in a TECO manual that a quick search turned up: http://www.copters.com/teco.html#RTFToC31. At some point the kill-ring was added to Emacs for storing recently-killed text, and the name became somewhat inaccurate.

This is the same kind of common accident that happens all the time. We still have functions named CAR and CDR, even though our computers don't have an address register or a decrement register. We still have hardware components called disks even though they don't have disks in them any more. Sometimes we call them drives instead, but that's not any better because they don't have motors in them either. Lots of people call it a "fridge", even if they didn't buy it from Frigidaire. I suspect it's also related to skeuomorphism, where objects have a design that mimics the functional aspects of older objects.

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