Mainframe Slang

I've collected a list of Mainframe slang terms and folklore for your enjoyment. You'll be up and spouting Mainframe-speak in no time. Helpful to those attempting to communicate with Mainframe systems programmers.


ABnormal END
S0CB is to Spit On Charlie Brown    (but it may not have been spit...)

"What's a SOC4?" Answer: To keep your foot warm.

On a sad note, a colleague at another MVS site in town said they were getting applicants for MVS systems programming positions that didn't know what a S806 ABEND was!
Auditor of Data Processing

Someone that goes onto the battlefield after the battle has been fought and shoots the survivors.


Occurs because of some type of automation or setting of options.

(2 Gigabyte) Bar

The term to describe the boundry between storage available to 31-bit programs and storage only available to 64-bit programs.

Will come into widespread use after the 64-bit OS/390 is available. As in: "If you thought it was hard explaining the 16 megabyte line to users, wait till we have the 2 gigabyte bar to hurdle."
Attributed to John Ehrman (at the February 1998 Share conference)
BERT Technology

JES2 now has a few BERT macros:


BookMaster (product of IBM) See related term Lookie


Affectionate name for IBM's BookManager


To stop and restart an executing task. Alias is Cycle As in: "Please bounce CICS overnight and that should fix the storage problem."

Casters Up

A mainframe in a very non-functional state.
Courtesy of Danal Estes
Endless Loop

See See Loop, Endless.

FISH mode

When a computer is locked up, it is running in FISH mode. Where FISH stands for First In Still Here. This is a parody of real queuing methods like FIFO (First In First Out), LIFO (Last In First Out), etc.

Flat file

Sequential (non-VSAM) file. Sometimes this term is misused to mean any non-VSAM file.

Easy Sue and I Easy Sue

Short for the IEASYS00 member of SYS1.PARMLIB. Its origin is seen if you break down IEASYS00 to I EASY S00 (Sue)


Note: Using this term around someone named 'SUE' wouldn't be politically correct!


Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt -- A philosophy once used by IBM but now wielded by Microsoft.


Short for the IBM utility IEBGENER. As in "I got a B37 using gener on the General Ledger Audit flat file."


Slang for SMS. This is a reference to the main load module of SMS which is named IGDZILLA which is h-uuu-ge!

From the Newsletter


The GDG (Generation Data Group) number as in "What's the googoo number for that GDG?"

For Example:
hosimus maximus

System failure


A utility program that you have to use for situations where an IBM utility isn't comprehensive enough for the task. Sometimes spelled IEBEyeball. As in: "I finally found the problem using the IBM utility IEBEyeball."


Irish commands

The OpenMVS/OpenEdition/Unix_System_Services commands like OBROWSE, OCOPY, OGET, OPUT, etc.
You got to wonder if they were written by somebody named O'Reilly or O'Brian.
JES2 Sing Along

It only happens twice a year and only at the SHARE conference during the Thursday night SCIDS. Sing along: "HASPy days are here again, the SPOOL is full again" I've got a JES2 songbook in a box somewhere. I got to swing the MVT Paddle during the sing along the last time I went.


The way to remember the interrupts on a S/390 system:


IBM Sports Center

When a southerner wants to say "IBM Support Center" but slurs it together. Kinda like "FIZE Yew" which when translated for Yankees means "If I was you".

Lazy L

The ¬ (NOT SIGN) key/code. Since the ¬ character is part of EBCDIC but not in the standard ASCII character set, it's always "fun" telling someone how to hit the ¬ key on a PC keyboard. Psst: It's usually the SHIFT 6.

Another useful character not found in the standard ASCII character set (but on 3270 keyboards) is the ¢ (Cent) key/code.

(16 Megabyte) Line

The term to describe the boundry between storage available to 24-bit programs and storage that is only available to 31-bit programs.


BookManager/READ (product of IBM) See related term Bookie
Courtesy of Philip H. Smith III as posted on the IBM-Main Newsgroup/Mailing List on Tue, 22 Sep 1998.
Loop, Endless

See See Endless Loop.


Misleading Indicator of Processor Speed
Misleading Indicator of Performance Sampling

MVT Paddle

Mystical wood that only comes out at the SHARE conference.


Object Code Only. You don't get the source code for an OCO module.


See Recursion

Stand Alone Dump

Sometimes performed after the mainframe is running in Fish Mode. I get paid the big bucks to say this a couple of times a year: "Take a Stand Alone Dump and IPL!"

Stand Alone Resume Writer

Fictional term for the last activity you might perform at your current company. As in: "If this machine goes into a wait state again, we'll need to IPL the Stand Alone Resume Writer".

Not as popular as "It looks like I picked the wrong week to give up sniffing glue" which is often muttered during unscheduled outages.


Stop with Class. Although you can still use the stopc command to exit from Omegamon (a product of Candle), it no longer does anything fancy. The screen use to swirl around when using stopc to exit.


Systems Programmer See related term God

That's All Folk

The identifer at the end of a FDR (a product of Innovation) backup file.


Wild A$$ Guess

If you spend at least 5 seconds thinking about it, a WAG becomes a SWAG: Scentific Wild A$$ Guess

Y2K problem

Applications programmer's problem.

Z Team

A set of products from Platinum (formerly Altai Software): Zeke, Zack, Zebb and Zara.

Return to Mainframe Humor page. (Not an exit from SCIDS)

Last Updated: 2003-09-26
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