noun Computers.
software that displays advertisements and is integrated into another program offered at no charge or at low cost.
a type of spyware that gathers information about an Internet user's browsing habits and displays targeted or contextual advertisements. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
adware (ˈædˌwɛə)
1.  a type of computer software that collects information about a user's browsing patterns in order to display relevant advertisements in his or her Web browser
2.  computer software that is given to a user with advertisements already embedded

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source's 21st Century Lexicon
Main Entry:  adware1
Part of Speech:  n
Definition:  a software application in which advertisements are displayed while the program is running, esp. in pop-up windows or banners, and which often is installed without the user's knowledge or consent; also called advertising-supported software
Etymology:  2000-05
Main Entry:  adware2
Part of Speech:  n
Definition:  a form of spyware that collects information about the computer user's online behavior in order to display targeted advertisements in the Web browser
Etymology:  2000-05's 21st Century Lexicon
Copyright © 2003-2014, LLC
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Word Origin & History

by 2001, from ad (see advertise) + -ware, abstracted from software, etc.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Computing Dictionary

adware definition

Any kind of software which is distributed free of charge along with advertisements that are either placed on the web site from which the software is distributed or displayed by the program while it is running.
Nagware might be considered a special case of adware where the program tries to persuade the user to buy a license for the program itself.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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Example sentences
The company insists the app is neither spyware nor adware, but it can still
  slow your computer down.
Spyware and adware cause pop-up ads to appear on your screen or track your
  online activities.
Malware and adware can be difficult to detect and remove.
Spyware and adware can interfere with the catalog website.
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