What Is Camel Case?


Camel speaking

I still remember the day I thought of the name WriteAtHome. I dreamed up the business idea while running on a treadmill at the YMCA and wondered what kind of name would cleverly communicate the idea of a tutorial writing course focusing on home learners. One of my first thoughts was Write at Home, with it’s punny play on words. I liked associating an educational program with the expression “make yourself right at home.”

To my surprise, the domain name was available and I snatched it up. When it came time to register the business, I decided to mash the words together so that people would more easily recognize it as a web address. But writeathome is hard to read, so I capitalized each word: WriteAtHome. That’s better. What I didn’t know then, but — thanks to Facebook commenter, Jason — I know now, is that this mashing of words and unorthodox capitalization has a name: camel case.

According to Wikipedia, there is some disagreement about whether words in camel case can begin with a capital letter, but I’m getting the feeling that it doesn’t really matter. Words written like that look humpy, like a camel. I like it.

The name camel case (or CamelCase) came out of the world of computer coding, but the idea has been around. You see it in names like McGregor, DiCaprio, or LaBron. Mine is not the first company to do it either; MasterCard, WordPerfect, and PowerPoint have been around much longer.

So there you go — a new term to add to your collection. Thanks for dropping the knowledge, Jason.


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About the Author

Brian WaskoBrian is the founder and president of WriteAtHome.com. One of his passions is to teach young people how to write better.View all posts by Brian Wasko

  1. hyphenman

    Hi, Brian,

    I like everything about this post — except for one thing. The definition of “camel case.”

    Seems like it comes out of those same late-teenage brains from MIT that thought up CSS, hyperlinks, and other gibberish.

    That aside, anyone who blogs can certainly relate to the struggle over a catchy name. I personally wanted to use hyphens to separate words, and a friendly sales agent at my host provider told me that was a no-no. (Not forbidden, just not a good idea.)

    Best of all is the hook you used and the irresistible appeal to curiosity of what on earth is “camel case.” That’s exactly what good writing is supposed to do.

    Nicely done!

    • Brian Wasko
      Brian Wasko04-04-2013

      Thanks, hyphenman. Sorry you don’t like camel case. I think it’s rather clever. I’m fascinated by the constant stream of neologisms in American English.

      I appreciate the encouragement. Oh, and I’ll reply to your email ASAP.

  2. Cheryl Jones
    Cheryl Jones04-01-2013

    Every idea starts somewhere! It’s just great that you went through with it! an idea is a dime a dozen and very few push through with it.

    • Brian Wasko
      Brian Wasko04-01-2013

      I’m glad I went through with it too, Cheryl. Could not have happened without the help of many good friends and a supportive family though. Thanks for the encouragement. 🙂

  3. Saved Girl/ Amber
    Saved Girl/ Amber03-29-2013

    Ok, I have a question for you. A friend of mine is studying an English/Grammar course online. She recently shared this bit of text with me.

    Verbs must match their subject in the following categories:
    • Person
    o first- (“I think”)
    o second- (“you think”)
    o third- (“she thinks”)
    • Number
    o singular (“Humpty Dumpty sat”)
    o plural (“all the king’s men couldn’t put”)
    • Mood
    o indicative (“he cooks my dinner”)
    o imperative (“cook my dinner”)
    o subjunctive (“I wish I could cook my dinner”)
    • Voice
    o active (“I damaged your bicycle”)
    o passive (“Your bicycle has been damaged”)
    • Tense
    o past (“Yesterday was rainy”)
    o present (“It is raining right now”)
    o future (“Tomorrow it might rain”)

    This started a discussion about whether or not this is correct. I maintain that verbs cannot agree with nouns in mood, voice or tense. After all, nouns do not have mood, voice, or tense.

    Is the course correct or am I? Is there a way that verbs and nouns agree in these areas? How can they?

    • Brian Wasko
      Brian Wasko04-01-2013

      I would be on your side in this debate, Amber. In fact, I’d add “person” to the list of categories I question because only pronouns have the characteristic of person. Verbs don’t.

      In fact, the more I think about it, the sillier this seems to me. Mood, voice, and tense are all important characteristics of verbs, but they have nothing to do with agreement. Nouns and verbs can only agree or disagree in number. That’s what we mean by subject-verb agreement. Pronouns and antecedents can agree or disagree in both number and gender.

      I am very curious what the grammar course is. I think I’d like to do some more investigation. Seems like a course I’d recommend people avoid. Would you be willing to email the name to me at brian-at-writeathome-dot-com? I’d rather not post it publicly here. If not, no problem.

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