I often encounter the words load and fetch in contexts where data are being read from some source, and they seem to have slightly different meanings. What's the difference?

I've done some research and couldn't find any specific technical difference in general usage. While the term fetch can refer to one stage in CPU instruction execution, I've seen it used in contexts not related to CPUs. To keep this question on-topic for Super User, I expect only the technical definition of these terms, rather than their general usage.


"Load" refers to taking the value and assigning it to a register or variable, whereas "fetch" refers to taking the value and using it directly in an operation.

  • I've clarified the question to add that it is not specific to CPUs.
    – bwDraco
    Oct 21 '12 at 16:35
  • 2
    Then you should be taking this to English.SE. Oct 21 '12 at 16:37
  • See meta.superuser.com/questions/5729/…
    – bwDraco
    Oct 21 '12 at 16:59
  • 2
    The problem with this question is that outside CPUs (and GPUs, FPUs, etc.) it mostly stops being jargon and starts being "put something in" and "pick something up". Oct 21 '12 at 17:01
  • Edited again to bring question back on topic.
    – bwDraco
    Oct 21 '12 at 17:46

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