What is a plugin? Definition and examples

A Plugin, Add-on, or Extension is a piece of software added to an existing computer program.

We can write the term with a hyphen, as in plug-in, or without, as in plugin. Whichever one you choose, make sure you stick to it throughout your text; do not switch in the middle of your writing.

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Plugins have unique capabilities that add a specific feature to an existing program. For example, if you want to watch a video on a website, you may need to download a plugin for your web browser to play the video.

They can make your software either more powerful or better targeted to your specific requirements. In the world of website design and development, things would be significantly more limited if we had no plugins.

Always verify that a plugin is compatible with your software’s version to avoid conflicts that could impair functionality.

Sometimes we need a plugin to watch a video online
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Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary defines the word ‘plug-in’ as: “a small device or computer program that is designed to be used with and fits into a larger one.”

Software developers that allow plugins may choose to do so for third-party developers to create new features to extend the functionality of a program, reduce the size of an application, and also separate source code from application.

Purpose of plugins

Plugins exist for various different purposes, including:

Free vs. premium

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Most plugins are available as free downloads. Premium plugins are the ones we pay for.

Premium plugins typically offer more advanced functionalities and 24/7 dedicated support.
They also tend to come with tutorials to help us use them properly.

If you are not sure whether you want to risk paying for one, ask them whether they have a simpler free version. Some companies offer a free plugin as an incentive to later upgrade to a premium version. They’re more like a free trial.

An example – WordPress

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WordPress is the most popular application globally for creating and developing websites. WordPress plugins offer tons of features and functionality that your website would not have otherwise.

Did you know that there are over 50,000 WordPress plugins? Make sure you do not saturate your website with them! If your website develops problems such as slowing down, it might be because you are using too many plugins.

Compound phrases with “plugin”

There are many compound words that contain the word “plugin.” Let’s have a look at some of them, understand their meanings, and see how we use them in a sentence:

  • Plugin architecture

The design structure of a software that allows plugins to interact with it.
Example: “The browser’s plugin architecture facilitates seamless integration of new functionality through various extensions.”

  • Plugin manager

A tool or feature that allows users to organize and control plugins within a software application.
Example: “After installing the new audio software, she used the plugin manager to sort and update her sound processing plugins.”

  • Plugin library

A collection or database of plugins available for a specific platform or software.
Example: “The video editing program boasted an extensive plugin library, offering a wide range of visual effects.”

  • Plugin update

The process of refreshing a plugin to its latest version.
Example: “Regular plugin updates are essential to ensure compatibility and security within the content management system.”

  • Plugin conflict

A situation where two or more plugins interfere with each other’s operations.
Example: “Solving the plugin conflict required deactivating each plugin one by one to identify the culprit causing the error.”

  • Plugin marketplace

An online platform where users can buy, sell, or download plugins.
Example: “She browsed the plugin marketplace for a reliable SEO tool to enhance her website’s visibility.”

Video – What is a Plugin?

This educational video comes from Marketing Business Network, our sister YouTube channel. It explains what a “Plugin” is using easy-to-understand language and examples.