An automobile, especially one that is badly battered.

- american underworld dictionary - 1950

Definition 1

A heap is a data structure that is a special case of a binary tree. In which the value of each node is greater than the values of its leaves. Thus a parent is always greater in value than it’s children. A heap is a used in implementation of a priority queue, as well as a heap sort algorithm.

Definition 2

A heap is also a special area of memory. Its complement is the stack. It is used to store data that is initialized, created while a program is executing.

Theodore Sturgeon's story, "It," first published in 1940, tells the tale of the once-wealthy Roger Kirk, who died in 1929. Gradually, the plants and elements of the earth gathered around his skeleton and become a semi-living thing-- and the foreshambler of a monster that has lurked in the dark places of popular culture ever since.

It did not take long for a comic book to plagiarize and popularize the concept.

In December 1942, the third issue of Air Fighter Comics (Later Airboy), a title dedicated to adventuring pilots and flying aces, took a turn for the bizarre. Harry Stein and Mort Leav told the horrific (and, to readers of Sturgeon, familiar) tale of Baron von Emmelman, a German fighter pilot shot down in 1918 over Wassau Swamp in Poland. Emmelman did not die; rather, over the years, he transformed into a humanoid mound of swampy matter, and crawled out from his apparent grave. It needed flesh to survive, and often consumed animals. Its human opponents might be from either side of the Second World War, but it was the Axis, invariably, who suffered most. The creature did not have heaps of intelligence and it lacked the Baron's memories, but it had a simplified personality of its own.

Although intended as a one-shot character, the Heap reappeared and in 1946 Airboy made it the star of a regular feature, the misunderstood monster for whom the title became best-known. Later, the Heap received his own series. The anti-comics crusade of the 1950s came down particularly hard on Horror Comics, and Hillman Comics ceased publishing the character, and then their comics, by the middle of the decade.

When the influence of the Comics Code Authority waned in the early 1970s, another company, Skywald, began publishing stories about the Heap. Skywald never formally acquired the rights, and its Heap differed in some ways from the original. In 1986, Eclipse Comics purchased several old Hillman properties, and began issuing new, legitimate adventures of the animated vegetable. In the 1990s, Image took over the rights and set a revised version against their star, Spawn. This Heap was formerly Eddie Becket, a street person transformed after he found a supernatural substance.

The Heap has had many imitators, who owe at least as much to it as to Sturgeon's original character. DC comics introduced a Heap/Frankenstein Monster named Solomon Grundy in the October 1944 issue of All-American Comics (#61). He remains a part of the DC Universe, his variable strength pitted against many different superheroes. Over at Marvel Comics, The Hulk carries more than a little of the Heap in his irradiated soul. Marvel, in fact, has a thing for hulking monsters, and heaps of them have lurched through its history. Even closer to the source come DC's Swamp Thing and Marvel's Man-Thing, both introduced in 1971. In 1972, Marvel directly adapted Theodore Sturgeon's "It." Mad Magazine #5 (June-July 1953) featured a story called "Outer Sanctum," which parodied Inner Sanctum, EC's own horror comics, and the Heap. Dungeons and Dragons, meanwhile, features the Shambling mound among its many monstrosities.

The Heap may have stolen its life from a pulpy Sturgeon story, and many no longer know it by its most famous name, but its mucky matter has been integrated with the broader culture. Likely, it will continue to shamble on in our nightmares.

Heap (?), n. [OE. heep, heap, heap, multitude, AS. he�xa0;p; akin to OS. hp, D. hoop, OHG. houf, hfo, G. haufe, haufen, Sw. hop, Dan. hob., Icel. hpr troop, flock, Russ. kupa heap, crowd, Lith. kaupas. Cf. Hope, in Forlorn hope.]


A crowd; a throng; a multitude or great number of persons.

[Now Low or Humorous]

The wisdom of a heap of learned men. Chaucer.

A heap of vassals and slaves. Bacon.

He had heaps of friends. W.Black.


A great number or large quantity of things not placed in a pile.

[Now Low or Humorous]

A vast heap, both of places of scripture and quotations. Bp. Burnet.

I have noticed a heap of things in my life. R. L. Stevenson.


A pile or mass; a collection of things laid in a body, or thrown together so as to form an elevation; as, a heap of earth or stones.

Huge heaps of slain around the body rise. Dryden.

<-- (Computer programming) The main segment of memory available for dynamic assignment -->


© Webster 1913.

Heap, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Heaped (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Heaping.] [AS. he�xa0;pian.]


To collect in great quantity; to amass; to lay up; to accumulate; -- usually with up; as, to heap up treasures.

Though he heap up silver as the dust. Job. xxvii. 16.


To throw or lay in a heap; to make a heap of; to pile; as, to heap stones; -- often with up; as, to heap up earth; or with on; as, to heap on wood or coal.


To form or round into a heap, as in measuring; to fill (a measure) more than even full.


© Webster 1913.

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