software

[sawft-wair, soft-]
noun
1.
Computers. the programs used to direct the operation of a computer, as well as documentation giving instructions on how to use them. Compare hardware ( def 5 ).
2.
anything that is not hardware but is used with hardware, especially audiovisual materials, as film, tapes, records, etc.: a studio fully equipped but lacking software.
3.
Television Slang. prepackaged materials, as movies or reruns, used to fill out the major part of a station's program schedule.

Origin:
1955–60; soft + ware1

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
software (ˈsɒftˌwɛə)
 
n
1.  computing Compare hardware the programs that can be used with a particular computer system
2.  video cassettes and discs for use with a particular video system

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

software
1851, "woolen or cotton fabrics," also, "relatively perishable consumer goods," from soft + ware (n.). The computer sense is a separate coinage from 1960, based on hardware.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
software   (sôft'wâr')  Pronunciation Key 
The programs, programming languages, and data that direct the operations of a computer system. word processing programs and Internet browsers are examples of software. Compare hardware.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

software definition


The programs and instructions that run a computer, as opposed to the actual physical machinery and devices that compose the hardware.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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FOLDOC
Computing Dictionary

software definition

programming
(Or "computer program", "program", "code") The instructions executed by a computer, as opposed to the physical device on which they run (the "hardware").
The term was coined by the eminent statistician, John Tukey.
Programs stored on non-volatile storage built from integrated circuits (e.g. ROM or PROM) are usually called firmware.
Software can be split into two main types - system software and application software or application programs. System software is any software required to support the production or execution of application programs but which is not specific to any particular application. Examples of system software would include the operating system, compilers, editors and sorting programs.
Examples of application programs would include an accounts package or a CAD program. Other broad classes of application software include real-time software, business software, scientific and engineering software, embedded software, personal computer software and artificial intelligence software.
Software includes both source code written by humans and executable machine code produced by assemblers or compilers. It does not usually include the data processed by programs unless this is in a format such as multimedia which depends on the use of computers for its presentation. This distinction becomes unclear in cases such as spread sheets which can contain both instructions (formulae and macros) and data. There are also various intermediate compiled or semi-compiled, forms of software such as library files and byte-code.
Some claim that documentation (both paper and electronic) is also software. Others go further and define software to be programs plus documentation though this does not correspond with common usage.
The noun "program" describes a single, complete and more-or-less self-contained list of instructions, often stored in a single file, whereas "code" and "software" are uncountable nouns describing some number of instructions which may constitute one or more programs or part thereof. Most programs, however, rely heavily on various kinds of operating system software for their execution. The nounds "code" and "software" both refer to the same thing but "code" tends to suggest an interest in the implementation details whereas "software" is more of a user's term.
(2002-07-21)
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010 http://foldoc.org
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Example sentences
Now computer programmers are harnessing software versions of these same
  processes to achieve machine intelligence.
But the bad guy's software can quickly make and then try all possible keys for
  a specific computer.
Computer game companies use increasingly complicated software to protect
  against piracy.
Here are a few favorite websites with great accessible ideas, as well as a
  crafty software program we've been using for years.
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