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mid-14c., "a tiler" (early 13c. as a surname), agent noun from point (v.). From c.1500 as "maker of needlepoint lace." From 1570s as "thing that points;" meaning "dog that stands rigid in the presence of game, facing the quarry" is recorded from 1717. Meaning "item of advice" first recorded 1883.
An item of advice or instruction: She gave me a few pointers about how to say it (1883+)Related Terms
The terms "pointer" and "reference" are generally interchangable although particular programming languages often differentiate these two in subtle ways. For example, Perl always calls them references, never pointers. Conversely, in C, "pointer" is used, although "a reference" is often used to denote the concept that a pointer implements.
Anthony Hoare once said:
Pointers are like jumps, leading wildly from one part of the data structure to another. Their introduction into high-level languages has been a step backward from which we may never recover.
[C.A.R.Hoare "Hints on Programming Language Design", 1973, Prentice-Hall collection of essays and papers by Tony Hoare].