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n. 1 (context computer hardware English) Any small device which plugs into an electronic device, typically a computer, and alters its functionality. Common examples include wireless modems, software copy protect devices, and adapters. Some USB keyboards and mice include USB to PS/2 adapter dongles, enabling their use on machines with PS/2 ports. 2 (context computer hardware English) A hardware device utilized by a specific application for purposes of copy protection.


n. (computer science) an electronic device that must be attached to a computer in order for it to use protected software


A dongle is a small piece of hardware that connects to another device to provide it with additional functionality. In relation to computing, the term is primarily associated with hardware providing a copy protection mechanism for commercial software—in which the dongle must be attached to the system that the software is installed on in order for it to function.

The term "dongle" is also associated with similar devices meant to provide additional forms of wireless connectivity to devices (such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth support), often over USB connections, as well as small form factor digital media players (such as Amazon Fire TV Stick, Chromecast, and Roku Streaming Stick) and personal computers (such as Chromebit and Intel Compute Stick) meant to plug directly into an HDMI input on a television.