syntactic sugar

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syntactic sugar /n./ [coined by Peter Landin] Features added to a language or other formalism to make it `sweeter' for humans, features which do not affect the expressiveness of the formalism (compare chrome). Used esp. when there is an obvious and trivial translation of the `sugar' feature into other constructs already present in the notation. C's `a[i]' notation is syntactic sugar for `*(a + i)'. "Syntactic sugar causes cancer of the semicolon." -- Alan Perlis.

The variants `syntactic saccharin' and `syntactic syrup' are also recorded. These denote something even more gratuitous, in that syntactic sugar serves a purpose (making something more acceptable to humans), but syntactic saccharin or syrup serve no purpose at all. Compare candygrammar, syntactic salt.


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