Brian Cryer's Web Resources

Brian Cryer's Glossary of IT Terms with Links


1. Technically a word is the number of bits (or bytes) that a CPU can process at a time. At the hardware level a word may therefore be 8, 16, 32 or 64 bits (1, 2, 4 or 8 bytes).

It should be noted that in the programming sense the word size is 2 or 4 bytes. The concept originally came into existence because the bus and/or CPU register size is know as the word size. On old 16 bit CPU's this led to a common word size of 2 bytes. The most common CPU these days is 32 bit and therefore the word size is 4 bytes. However in general the word size defined by the compiler or programming language should not be confused with the word size of the hardware. Windows running on a 64 bit platform may or may not still define a word size as 4 bytes.

2. Common abbreviation for Microsoft Word, which is part of Microsoft Office.