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Why Is it Called Spam? The Origins & Support

The term spam, in the context of unsolicited or unwanted email messages, has an interesting and well-documented origin. It is not an acronym like many other IT-related terms (eg. IT, TCP/IP, GB, SSD, etc.) Instead, it has a historical and humorous background.

The use of the term spam to describe unwanted email messages can be traced back to a famous sketch by the British comedy group Monty Python. In this sketch, two customers are trying to order food at a cafe, but nearly every item on the menu includes Spam, a canned meat product made by Hormel Corporation. As the waitress recites the menu, a group of Vikings in the cafe loudly sings “Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam… Lovely Spam! Wonderful Spam!” This repetition and intrusion of Spam in the sketch parallel the way unwanted emails can inundate and disrupt an inbox.

In the early days of the internet and email, when users started receiving an increasing number of unsolicited and repetitive email messages, the term “spam” was humorously borrowed from this Monty Python sketch to describe these unwanted messages. It highlighted the annoyance and intrusiveness of these emails, much like the excessive presence of Spam on the cafe menu. Over time, this usage of spam to refer to unwanted emails became widespread, and it is now a standard term in the world of Internet communication. The widespread influence of popular culture is intriguing, isn’t it?


Spam skit in Monty Python

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