firmware

[furm-wair]
noun Computers.
a microprogram stored in ROM, designed to implement a function that had previously been provided in software.

Origin:
1965–70; firm1 + (soft)ware

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
firmware (ˈfɜːmˌwɛə)
 
n
computing a fixed form of software programmed into a read-only memory

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

firmware
1968, from firm (adj.) + ending from software.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang Dictionary

firmware

/ferm'weir/ n. Embedded software contained in EPROM or flash memory. It isn't quite hardware, but at least doesn't have to be loaded from a disk like regular software. Hacker usage differs from straight techspeak in that hackers don't normally apply it to stuff that you can't possibly get at, such as the program that runs a pocket calculator. Instead, it implies that the firmware could be changed, even if doing so would mean opening a box and plugging in a new chip. A computer's BIOS is the classic example, although nowadays there is firmware in disk controllers, modems, video cards and even CD-ROM drives.
FOLDOC
Computing Dictionary

Firmware definition


Software stored in read-only memory (ROM) or programmable ROM (PROM). Easier to change than hardware but harder than software stored on disk. Firmware is often responsible for the behaviour of a system when it is first switched on. A typical example would be a "monitor" program in a microcomputer which loads the full operating system from disk or from a network and then passes control to it.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010 http://foldoc.org
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Example sentences
In my experience as a firmware engineer, you've got the order of causes
  backwards.
The idea is to sign all the code that your computer runs to the boot firmware,
  so in theory no malware can run on the machine.
Firmware is embedded software that controls hardware.
You'll need to roll your own malware to override the manufacturer's firmware.
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