= S =
In early Unix days, a well-known
technical paper analogized the lexical analyzer lex(1) to a
Swiss-army knife; this was a comment on the remarkable variety of
more general uses discovered for a program originally designed as a
special-purpose code generator for writing compilers. Two decades
later, well-known hacker Henry Spencer described the Perl
scripting language as a "Swiss-Army chainsaw", intending to
convey his evaluation of the language as exceedingly powerful but
ugly and noisy and prone to belch noxious fumes. This had two
results: (1) Perl fans adopted the epithet as a badge of pride, and
(2) it entered more general usage to describe software that is
highly versatile but distressingly inelegant.
--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.