Garbage in, garbage out

Garbage in garbage out is an idiom that became popular in the twentieth century. We will examine the meaning of the common idiom garbage in garbage out, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

Garbage in, garbage out means faulty input yields faulty results. Garbage in, garbage out originally referred to computer input and output; if one wrote a faulty program one would not get the results one sought. However, the expression garbage in, garbage out has come to also mean if one starts with a faulty premise, one’s results will not be viable; if one starts with shoddy materials, one’s product will not be of high quality. The expression garbage in, garbage out was coined by an IBM computer programmer and instructor, George Fuechsel, in the 1960s to describe the fact that a computer processes what it is tasked to process, no more and no less. Garbage in, garbage out is sometimes abbreviated as GIGO, especially in computer circles.

Examples

The difference may boil down to one of the simplest rules of computer programming: garbage in, garbage out. (Forbes)

When we fail to give public offices to individuals with the right quality and capacity, we end up with a GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out). (Vanguard News)

Third, blaming the machine ignores the well-established principle of GIGO – garbage in, garbage out. (The Mandarin)