n. Unsolicited commercial e-mail messages.
spam v.
spamming pp.

Example Citations:
Internet spam has become ubiquitous. Many e-mail users receive more than 10 spam e-mail messages a day, many of them from Cyberpromo, which sends up to 20 million a day.
—Robert Uhlig, “Spam maker fights Web junk mail king,” The Ottawa Citizen, January 4, 1998

Internet users suffered another “spam attack” last week, this time from a Florida public-access host user who flooded Usenet conferences with ads for I thigh-reducing cream. Retribution. however, was swift. Administrators at the user‘s site quickly yanked his account.
—“Briefs: Canned spam,” Network World, May 30, 1994

Earliest Citation:
The act, while not illegal, violated long-held traditions against random placement of any type of messages on news groups. Such scatter-shot messaging is known as “spamming.”

Each Usenet participant pays, either directly or indirectly, for the data he or she receives. In contrast, the cost to spam an advertisement in thousands of news groups, where it is potentially read by hundreds of thousands of computer users, is typically less than $50.

The first advertisement spamming by Mr. Canter and Ms. Siegel resulted in tens of thousands of complaints — even death threats — from Usenet readers. Electronic vandals jammed the law firm’s telephone, facsimile and computer systems for days.
—Peter H. Lewis, “Arizona Lawyers Form Company for Internet Advertising,” The New York Times, May 7, 1994

Spam originally meant "flooding a [Usenet] newsgroup with irrelevant or inappropriate messages" (The Jargon File). This original sense derived from the overuse of the word "spam" in a sketch performed by Monty Python's Flying Circus. The sketch begins as follows:
Mr. Bun: Morning.

Waitress: Morning.

Mr. Bun: Well, what you got?

Waitress: Well, there's egg and bacon; egg, sausage 
and bacon; egg and spam; egg, bacon and spam; egg, 
bacon, sausage and spam; spam, bacon, sausage and 
spam; spam, egg, spam, spam, bacon and spam; spam, 
sausage, spam, spam, spam, bacon, spam, tomato and 
spam; spam, spam, spam, egg and spam; (Vikings start 
singing in background) spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, 
spam, baked beans, spam, spam, spam and spam...
In recent years, the use of "spam" expanded to include unsolicited commercial e-mail. In case you don't know, spam is a luncheon meat consisting of compressed pork shoulder with a bit of ham tossed in. It is produced by Hormel Foods who even have an Official Spam Home Page.

Related Words: