In several fields, especially computing, deprecation is the discouragement of use of some terminology, feature, design, or practice, typically because it has been superseded or is no longer considered efficient or safe, without completely removing it or prohibiting its use. Typically, deprecated materials are not completely removed to ensure legacy compatibility or back up practice in case new methods are not functional in an odd scenario.
It can also imply that a feature, design, or practice will be removed or discontinued entirely in the future.
In general English usage, the infinitive "to deprecate" means "to express disapproval of (something)". It derives from the Latin verb deprecari, meaning "to ward off (a disaster) by prayer".
An early documented usage of "deprecate" in this sense is in Usenet posts in 1984, referring to obsolete features in 4.2BSD and the C programming language. An expanded definition of "deprecate" was cited in the Jargon File in its 1991 revision, and similar definitions are found in commercial software documentation from 2014 and 2023.
While a deprecated software feature remains in the software, its use may raise warning messages recommending alternative practices. Deprecated status may also indicate the feature will be removed in the future. Features are deprecated, rather than immediately removed, to provide backward compatibility and to give programmers time to bring affected code into compliance with the new standard.
Among the most common reasons for deprecation are:
cifs. The latter provides better security, supports more protocol features, and integrates better with the rest of the kernel. Since the inclusion of
smbfshas been deprecated.
gets()is an example, because using this function can introduce a buffer overflow into the program that uses it. The Java API methods
.resumeare further examples.
FONTelement to allow page designers to specify the font in which text should be displayed. With the release of Cascading Style Sheets and HTML 4.0, the
FONTelement became extraneous, and detracted from the benefits of noting structural markup in HTML and graphical formatting in CSS. Thus, the
FONTelement was deprecated in the Transitional HTML 4.0 standard, and eliminated in the Strict variant.
A building code example is the use of ungrounded ("2-prong") electrical receptacles. Over time, these older devices were widely deprecated in favor of safer grounded ("3-prong") receptacles. The older, ungrounded receptacles were still permitted in many places by "grandfathering" them in existing electrical wiring, while prohibiting them for new installations. Thus, though ungrounded receptacles may still be available for legal purchase in a location where they are obsolete, they would generally be intended only for repairs to existing older electrical installations.
In writing and editing, usage of a word may be deprecated because it is ambiguous, confusing, or offensive to some readers. For example, the words sanction and inflammable may be misinterpreted because they have auto-antonymic or self-contradictory meanings; writing style guides often recommend substituting other words that are clearly understood and unambiguous. Some word usages that have acquired different connotations over time, such as gay or colored, may be deprecated as obsolete in formal writing.
In technical standards, use of a certain clause may be discouraged or superseded by new clauses. As an example, in the Ethernet standard IEEE 802.3-2012, Clause 5 (Layer Management) is "deprecated" by Clause 30 (Management), except for 5.2.4.
Deprecation may also occur when a technical term becomes obsolete, either through change or supersession. An example from paleontology is the previously deprecated term Brontosaurus; before being re-recognized as a unique genus, it was considered a popular, yet deprecated, name for the genus Apatosaurus. Some examples of deprecated terms from medicine include consumption (tuberculosis), grippe (influenza), and apoplexy (stroke). In chemical nomenclature, the international standards organization IUPAC (International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry) has deprecated the term "methyl ethyl ketone", and now recommends using the term "ethyl methyl ketone" instead.
Deprecated function: char * gets (char *s). ... The
getsfunction is very dangerous because it provides no protection against overflowing the string
s. The GNU library includes it for compatibility only. You should always use