Important Git terms
When you install Git, it adds a manual entry for
gitglossary. You can view
this glossary by running
man gitglossary. Below we’ve included the Git terms
you’ll encounter most often along with their definitions from gitglossary.
A “branch” is an active line of development. The most recent commit on a branch is referred to as the tip of that branch. The tip of the branch is referenced by a branch head, which moves forward as additional development is done on the branch. A single Git repository can track an arbitrary number of branches, but your working tree is associated with just one of them (the “current” or “checked out” branch), and HEAD points to that branch.
Obsolete for: index
The action of updating all or part of the working tree with a tree object or blob from the object database, and updating the index and HEAD if the whole working tree has been pointed at a new branch.
As a noun: A single point in the Git history; the entire history of a project is represented as a set of interrelated commits. The word “commit” is often used by Git in the same places other revision control systems use the words “revision” or “version”. Also used as a short hand for commit object.
As a verb: The action of storing a new snapshot of the project’s state in the Git history, by creating a new commit representing the current state of the index and advancing HEAD to point at the new
A fast-forward is a special type of merge where you have a revision and you are “merging” another branch’s changes that happen to be a descendant of what you have. In such these cases, you do not make a new merge commit but instead just update to their revision. This will happen frequently on a remote-tracking branch of a remote repository.
Fetching a branch means to get the branch’s head ref from a remote repository, to find out which objects are missing from the local object database, and to get them, too. See also git-fetch(1)
In Git’s context, synonym for object name.
A named reference to the commit at the tip of a branch. Heads are stored in a file in $GIT_DIR/refs/heads/ directory, except when using packed refs. See also git-pack-refs(1).
The current branch. In more detail: Your working tree is normally derived from the state of the tree referred to by HEAD. HEAD is a reference to one of the heads in your repository, except when using a detached HEAD, in which case it directly references an arbitrary commit.
A collection of files with stat information, whose contents are stored as objects. The index is a stored version of your working tree. Truth be told, it can also contain a second, and even a third version of a working tree, which are used when merging.
Pulling a branch means to fetch it and merge it. See also git-pull(1)
Pushing a branch means to get the branch’s head ref from a remote repository, find out if it is a direct ancestor to the branch’s local head ref, and in that case, putting all objects, which are reachable from the local head ref, and which are missing from the remote repository, into the remote object database, and updating the remote head ref. If the remote head is not an ancestor to the local head, the push fails.
To reapply a series of changes from a branch to a different base, and reset the head of that branch to the result.