A CAPTCHA is a type of challenge-response test used in computing as an attempt to ensure that the response is generated by a person. The process usually involves a computer asking a user to complete a simple test which the computer is able to grade. These tests are designed to be easy for a computer to generate, but difficult for a computer to solve, so that if a correct solution is received, it can be presumed to have been entered by a human. A common type of CAPTCHA requires the user to type letters or digits from a distorted image that appears on the screen, and such tests are commonly used to prevent unwanted internet bots from accessing websites.

The term “CAPTCHA” was coined in 2000 by Luis von Ahn, Manuel Blum, Nicholas J. Hopper, and John Langford (all of Carnegie Mellon University). It is an acronym based on the word “capture” and standing for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart”. Carnegie Mellon University attempted to trademark the term, but the trademark application was abandoned on 21 April 2008.