Contrast zen, which is a similar supernatural understanding experienced as a single brief flash.The entry existed in the very earliest forms of the Jargon File, dating from the early 1980s.It means almost everything that we mean by religion, philosophy, and science and it means as little to us as color does to a blind man." "The Martian Race had encountered the people of the fifth planet, grokked them completely, and had taken action; asteroid ruins were all that remained, save that the Martians continued to praise and cherish the people they had destroyed." Robert A.Heinlein originally coined the term grok in his 1961 novel Stranger in a Strange Land as a Martian word that could not be defined in Earthling terms, but can be associated with various literal meanings such as "water", "to drink", "life", or "to live", and had a much more profound figurative meaning that is hard for terrestrial culture to understand because of its assumption of a singular reality.He groks over that ..." In his counterculture Volkswagen repair manual, How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive: A Manual of Step-By-Step Procedures for the Compleat Idiot (1969), dropout aerospace engineer John Muir instructs prospective used VW buyers to "grok the car" before buying.The first article in the Brewery Highlight Series for Redhook Ales. August 11, 1982, the room was packed with local news, beer fans and even the governor of the state of Washington. In a classic tale of entrepreneurship, the unknown, the underdog or what have you, Gordon Bowker, mastermind behind Starbucks, and Paul Shipman, a young marketing guru, teamed up in the early 1980′s under one notion, creating fresh, flavorful craft beer, locally.The term and aspects of the underlying concept have become part of communities as diverse as polyamory (in particular the Church of All Worlds) and computer science. Then you can hate—and (I think) Martian hate is an emotion so black that the nearest human equivalent could only be called mild distaste.
Uses of the word in the decades after the 1960s are more concentrated in computer culture, such as a 1984 appearance in Info World: "There isn't any software! For example, to say that you "know" Lisp is simply to assert that you can code in it if necessary — but to say you "grok" LISP is to claim that you have deeply entered the world-view and spirit of the language, with the implication that it has transformed your view of programming.This is all latter day usage, the original derivation was from an early text processing utility from so long ago that no one remembers but, grok was the output when it understood the file. Tom Wolfe, in his book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968), describes a character's thoughts during an acid trip: "He looks down, two bare legs, a torso rising up at him and like he is just noticing them for the first time...he has never seen any of this flesh before, this stranger.Heinlein describes Martian words as "guttural" and "jarring".Martian speech is described as sounding "like a bullfrog fighting a cat".