big-endian: adj.

[common; From Swift's Gulliver's Travels via the famous paper On Holy Wars and a Plea for Peace by Danny Cohen, USC/ISI IEN 137, dated April 1, 1980]

1. Describes a computer architecture in which, within a given multi-byte numeric representation, the most significant byte has the lowest address (the word is stored ‘big-end-first’). Most processors, including the IBM 370 family, the PDP-10, the Motorola microprocessor families, and most of the various RISC designs are big-endian. Big-endian byte order is also sometimes called network order. See little-endian, middle-endian, NUXI problem, swab.

2. An Internet address the wrong way round. Most of the world follows the Internet standard and writes email addresses starting with the name of the computer and ending up with the name of the country. In the U.K.: the Joint Academic Networking Team had decided to do it the other way round before the Internet domain standard was established. Most gateway sites have ad-hockery in their mailers to handle this, but can still be confused. In particular, the address could be interpreted in JANET's big-endian way as one in the U.K. (domain uk) or in the standard little-endian way as one in the domain as (American Samoa) on the opposite side of the world.