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11% of Americans believing that 'HTML' - the standard mark-up language used to create web pages - in a sexually transmitted disease.

A new study has revealed just how little the average person knows about technical language, with one in four believing that an 'MP3' is a robot from Star Wars.

Americans' tech knowledge may not be as good as expected, as a study by money-saving website Vouchercloud has revealed. In fact, over three quarters of Americans can't correctly identify what 'SEO' is, while one in eight thought 'USB' was an acronym for a country in Europe.

The study was conducted by vouchercloud as part of research into the technology-related knowledge of consumers across the US. 2,392 men and women aged 18 and over from across the US took part, and were required to put their tech knowledge to the test.

The study presented respondents with a list of technology related terms, as well as non-technology related terms; and asked them to select from a choice of three possible definitions what best defined the word they had been shown. Respondents were unaware that the study was specifically looking at knowledge of technology- hence why a mix of both normal and technology related words were used.

According to the results, just 23% of respondents correctly identified 'SEO' as 'Search Engine Optimisation'; with 77% of those taking part unable to correctly define the term.

27% of respondents incorrectly identified a 'gigabyte' as 'an insect commonly found in South America'; whilst over two fifths, 42%, thought that a motherboard was correctly defined as 'the deck of a cruise ship.'

Some of the most commonly misinterpreted technology terms by Americans, in no particular order, were revealed by the study as follows:

  • MP3 - Star Wars Robot (23%)
  • Blu-Ray - Marine animal (18%)
  • Software - Comfortable clothing (15%)
  • USB - Acronym for country in Europe (12%)
  • HTML - Sexually-transmitted disease (11%)

2% of those taking part incorrectly identified a 'tablet computer' as a computer that reminds people about tablet medication and when to take it.

Despite these common misconceptions, 61% of respondents claimed it was 'important' to have a good knowledge of technology in today's day and age.

Jessica Glaus of vouchercloud commented on the results:

"Technology is a huge interest for our user base, and month after month we see thousands of people visiting our site to look for coupons and deals to use when purchasing their favourite tech products. We wanted to see just how far knowledge of tech terms goes for the average Joe on the street, being an online business; and it seems that quite a few of us need to brush up on our tech definitions! It's perfectly understandable that a lot of people won't know what SEO is, but it will be interesting to see how many more of these terms become more mainstream as tech continues to play a huge role in our lives."

The full results of the study can be found here.

For the meanings and origins of some popular financial terms, you can also see our guide to financial idioms and etymology.