I have trouble understanding the following sentence from lwn.net

Because the nightly builds are not full browsers, the interface leaves out most of the traditional browser chrome.

I know there's a browser called Chrome but I doubt that's the meaning here. Using a dictionary I can only find chrome as my title says. I think it means something like user interface but I'm not sure.

  • 8
    I thought this question was going to be about Mad Max: Fury Road Jul 18, 2016 at 19:46
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    Chrome is also a treatment applied to metals to preserve their appearance, discourage rust/oxidation from forming, and to reduce abrasion of the surface. Possible relationship to UI is that the browser's interface is relatively consistent over time, and doesn't change anywhere as often as the user changes website.
    – Criggie
    Jul 20, 2016 at 9:03
  • I would say that this has less to do with learning english as most native English speakers wouldn't know this. I think it's more of a UX, SO, or SU question. Maybe we can get it moved there?
    – jfa
    Jul 20, 2016 at 17:18

5 Answers 5


From Glen's answer on Quora, which also goes on to explain Chrome's name:

In design terminology, 'chrome' refers to the non-webpage parts of the browser's interface - the toolbars, tabs and buttons

  • 3
    But this is about the Google Browser, Chrome... and the quote in the question is not.
    – Catija
    Jul 18, 2016 at 19:35
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    @Catija: Google Chrome was named after the term that the question is asking about. Jul 18, 2016 at 19:36
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    @Catija Adding to Nathan's comment: Firefox also uses that term (which I must say, results in some funny confusions when dwelling its intrinsics).
    – Kroltan
    Jul 18, 2016 at 23:12
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    and Firefox gets it from Mozilla Browser, which apparently gets it from Netscape Navigator (it was already in use as of the March 1998 source release, before any big "Mozilla" rewrites). I think the term originated within Netscape, but that's difficult to prove :)
    – hobbs
    Jul 19, 2016 at 4:00
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    Funny that Chrome is named after that considering it had a smaller visual footprint by default than any of the other popular browsers when it came out.
    – corsiKa
    Jul 19, 2016 at 19:38

The term "browser chrome" comes by analogy to "chrome" on vehicles — shiny surfaces that appeal to buyers/drivers. So browser chrome is the visible user interface, the menus and toolbars and icons and tabs and so forth, which are the parts of the browser that are actually distinct (from the webpages, which are presumably displayed the same by all browsers) and can therefore be marketed to users.

The Chrome browser was, of course, named after this term.

  • 7
    The irony here is that the chrome on cars was not related to the function of the car, only to the aesthetics. So to name user interfaces (and even a software product) for non-functional bits seems downright absurd. Jul 18, 2016 at 21:57
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    @AdrianMcCarthy: Naming is hard, okai? :P Jul 18, 2016 at 21:59
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    @AdrianMcCarthy You aren't a back-end developer are you? Anything fancier than a command line interface, or maybe the keyboard interface for vi, is frivolous. :)
    – ColleenV
    Jul 18, 2016 at 22:25
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    The chrome browser was specifically named that because it got rid of so much chrome, especially compared to other browsers of the time: thewindowsclub.com/google-chrome-reason-revealed
    – Dan Staley
    Jul 18, 2016 at 23:00
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    @DanStaley: I assume that was intended to be a reply to Adrian? Jul 18, 2016 at 23:03

From the Jargon File:

[from automotive slang via wargaming] Showy features added to attract users but contributing little or nothing to the power of a system. “The 3D icons in Motif are just chrome, but they certainly are pretty chrome!” Distinguished from bells and whistles by the fact that the latter are usually added to gratify developers' own desires for featurefulness. Often used as a term of contempt.


Chrome is something that isn't needed, but it looks nice.

From the link you gave, one example mentioned is that it doesn't include the usual start page. Leaving out chrome makes the browser is smaller and simpler, but it's still 100% usable. It may be missing pretty graphics, the interface may not include some visual-effects, and optional/unneeded features might be left out.


This is a double meaning: it is lacking features of moderns browsers LIKE chrome and is missing the classic look. Reading more into the source https://lwn.net/Articles/693588/ the browser shown is lacking the place for an omnibar and a bookmark bar. In other words it says that its user interface is unlike the browser Chrome and unlike others web browser like today.

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