( n. A navigation feature that displays a list of places a person has visited or the route a person has taken.
breadcrumb n.

Example Citation:
"And the navigational footers at the bottom of each page — similar to the 'breadcrumbing' found on many Websites — prevents readers from getting lost amid the welter of pages."
—Shayn Ferriolo, "Black Box, 2000," Catalog Age, September 2001

Earliest Citation:
"Once the receiver locks onto the satellites, both programs show you where you are automatically and almost instantly and update your position regularly. Both let you customize maps and print them. Both let you record a route as you travel (a DeLorme spokesman, remembering the tale of Hansel and Gretel, calls it 'breadcrumbing') and then save it and play it back on the screen."
—Stephen Manes, "Global Positioning Maps: Lots of Fun and Glitches," The New York Times, March 25, 1997

Today's word is based on the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel, who threw down bits of bread to help find their way out of the forest. This feature is common on Web sites where the content is organized as a hierarchy or as a sequence of pages. Yahoo! ( may be the most famous example. Here's a nice explanation of a site's breadcrumbing feature, which also shows that each page the user has visited is called, logically, a breadcrumb:

"As you continue to browse through the Web site, a 'breadcrumbing' feature ... offers you a map of where each page is located.

These breadcrumbs will always be found at the top of the page in the garnet bar. As you explore deeper into the Web site, your breadcrumbs will continue to expand.

Clicking on a breadcrumb could take you a page you visited before or to related information. If you get lost or want to find different information, this trail helps you see the path to the current page."
—"Introduction," Florida State University Career Center

A loaf of thanks to subscriber Diane Burkhardt for telling me about today's term.

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