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Quick Definition

A patch is a change to the instructions that make up a piece of software. Most of the time, patches are created by the developers to fix bugs and other problems that have been discovered since their software was released.

Think of it this way: if a shirt you like gets torn or worn out, you might mend it by attaching another piece of cloth to the damaged areas -- ie, a 'patch'. Like your shirt, software doesn't always age well. New code is needed to replace the broken parts, and mending software like this is also known as applying a patch.

Note: The main difference between a patch and a mod is that the former is produced by the software's developers as a means of maintaining their product, while the latter is an alteration of the product by the end user.