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Assembly language is:

[a] language — verbs, nouns, syntax, etc. — used by programmers to write computer programs. It is relatively ‘low level’ in that the programmer must keep many machine details in mind.[1]
[a] lower leve1 computer language in which the programmer represents single machine language statements, or groups of them, by terse mnemonic codes. Programs written in assembly language are typically able to run only on the make of computer for which they are originally developed.[2]


Assembly language consists of simple symbolic names, mnemonic abbreviations and alphanumeric symbols that can be understood by programmers.[3] For example, a programmer using assembly language could represent the "addition" instruction with the word "ADD." Another typical assembly language instruction is "MOV," which is used to MOVe a piece of data from one place to another inside the computer. Because the computer does not understand the assembly language mnemonics, they have to be translated into machine language instructions using a special program called an assembler.[4] The assembler reads each assembly language instruction and replaces it with the appropriate pattern of 1's and 0's. For example, the ADD instruction might be translated to "00000100."

Assembly language is generally considered to be an "intermediate"-level programming language.[5] Assembly language programs are easier to write and understand than machine language programs, but cannot be executed directly by the computer.


  1. U.S. Copyright Office, Compendium of Copyright Office Practices II, §326 (1984).
  2. A Working Glossary of Computer Software Terms, at 1.
  3. United States v. Brown, 925 F.2d 1301, 1303 n.4, 17 U.S.P.Q.2d (BNA) 1929 (10th Cir. 1991) (full-text); Lotus Dev. Corp. v. Paperback Software Int'l, 740 F. Supp. 37, 44 (D. Mass. 1990) (full-text).
  4. E.F. Johnson Co. v. Uniden Corp. of America, 623 F. Supp. 1485, 1487 (D. Minn. 1985) (full-text).
  5. Id.