July 31, 2017
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Linters in the modern sense generally refer to programs which check code for potential errors (or even just style errors) in a static context (without running the code). Potential such errors might include syntactic errors, “variables being used before being set, division by zero, conditions that are constant, and calculations whose result is likely to be outside the range of values representable in the type used.” [Wikipedia]
The name comes from a program called Lint that performed this function for C code, but has since become a more general term.
Linting can be helpful for debugging interpreted languages like Python, since they don’t have a compilation phase where things like syntactic errors would be caught.