The username’s counterpart is in a very unfortunate situation when its name is in question in the English language. If you had not guessed, I am talking about the password (/ˈpɑːswɜːd/). Originally, passwords had been used long before computers were invented. Everyone can guess the etymology of the word. Of course, it Is pass + word. This suggests, as is very well known, that the password is a word used when you wish to gain admittance (to pass through an entrance). Normally, passwords are supposed to be kept secret and should never be something obvious or easy to guess or “figure out”. Early on, in the domain of home computing, passwords rarely had any real purpose, as everyone in the household usually knew what it was and would type it in to unlock the computer when it was needed. Only when computers became constantly connected to the Internet and people started using remote services, web portals etc. did the need for private passwords for personal accounts arise. These passwords used to be shorter and most of the times, they were still very easy to guess. This led to many problems, such as unwanted access to personal information and similar. Companies and developers began requiring passwords to be longer and more complex. However, too rigorous password complexity policies led to dissatisfaction among users and these policies were eventually lowered to a compromisable level. Over time, these policies gradually became more and more severe until eventually companies have it their way and users must adhere. Currently, some web portals have such demanding password security and complexity policies that they sometimes do not allow common dictionary words to be a part of the password in addition to already existing requirements of mixing characters in both cases, numbers and special symbols. This had led to creation of passwords that much closer resemble l33t talk than words.

Hence, the main argument of this post. Why do we still call passwords “pass-words” when we cannot even use real words as their parts. My passwords have long ago stopped looking like combinations of words and are more like a program written in Brainfuck, compressed with the Gzip algorithm and encoded in base 64. Therefore, why don’t we completely abandon the historic “password” and use something like a “keycode”, “passcode” or some similar and, probably, more adequate word for this no longer simple piece of identification information?