I see the cryptic status message "Reticulating splines . . ." whenever I use the wonderful online service Mozy to back up my hard drive (as I did last night). Thus Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day caught my attention this morning:
reticulate \rih-TIK-yuh-lut\ adjectiveReticulate is also a verb, transitive ("to divide, mark, or construct so as to form a network") and intransitive ("to become reticulated"). A spline is a curved element used in computer graphics. So what are "reticulating splines"? A programmer's joke.
1 : resembling a net or network; especially : having veins, fibers, or lines crossing
2 : being or involving evolutionary change dependent on genetic recombination involving diverse interbreeding populations
Wikipedia's article on the computer-game Sim City 2000 explains:
SimCity 2000 was the first sim game to feature the semi-nonsensical phrase "Reticulating Splines," which means "to make a network of splines." [Game designer] Will Wright has stated in an interview that the game does not actually reticulate splines when generating terrain, and he just inserted the phrase because it "sounded cool."And there are people who get it: one Mozy user gives the service "super huge geek bonus points" for "Reticulating splines."
If you need to back up your hard drive, you can't do better than Mozy, reticulating splines and all.
[All definitions from Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary.]