Definition of a chatbot

Chatbots have now made an important place for themselves in the digital landscape! But their sulphurous reputation has given rise to many misinterpretations. The Vizir team wanted to simplify your life and give you a precise definition of what chatbots are. We hope they won’t have any more secrets for you!


Everyone has been talking about chatbots since 2016.

And yet, would you be able to explain it to your parents (or to your child, or a colleague, whatever…)?

So I’ll try to give you a hand.  As your French teacher told you in high school, the best way to start a definition is with its etymology.

Let’s go!

The word chatbot is actually made up of two words:

cat    and….   bot

1. Definition of chat

Let’s start with the cat. According to the Larousse , the chat (pronounced tchattt) is an “informal conversation between several people on the Internet network.”.

We can quite generalize by saying that the chat is the fact of dialoguing with another person via exchanges of text messages. 

The chat must follow the textual format. We don’t “chat” on the phone. On the other hand, we “chat” by SMS, on Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, or even MSN (for the older ones). 

The chat therefore takes place on instant messaging platforms. And imagine that these instant messaging platforms have become the most used digital tools in the world, far ahead of social networks and mobile applications. 

Statista lists nearly 4 billion active users , cumulatively, on the largest instant messaging services. 

chatbot définition
Chat is the preferred means of human communication.

2. Definition of the bot

Let’s conclude with the bot!

Let’s take this time a definition from our friends of  The Internet user  (yes, “bot” is not included in the Larousse, at least not in its expected definition here). 

They define the bot as a “computer program whose purpose is to simulate the behavior of a person or to perform repetitive tasks”. 

I really like this definition. 

But to make it absolutely perfect, I would have kept only the first two words of the sentence. 

A bot is simply a computer program. 

Its purposes are potentially endless. Like a website or a mobile application, a bot can theoretically do everything.

The remainder of the definition is true, but therefore reductive. A chatbot can be used, for example, to consult content or to play games.

Bots have been around for over 10 years now. And their primary use was indeed to perform repetitive tasks, in order to automate tedious tasks, without added value. It is the cornerstone of a now very juicy industry: RPA (robotic process automation) which I will discuss in another article. 

3. Definition of the chatbot

And so, by mathematical deduction: chat + bot = computer program accessible from instant messaging.

This is where the essential innovation of the chatbot lies: allowing (many) instant messaging users to access computer programs – normally found on a website or mobile application – directly in their instant messaging. 

Imagine :

  • book a train ticket while you talk to your friends
  • contact the customer service of your telecom operator in real time without having to call
  • set your leave by talking to a robot on skype
  • etc… ( see our use cases )

I will not (yet) go into the details of how it works, what it is for etc… 

I hope this post has been useful to you. If you want  download the PDF here .

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