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Noob's Guide to !337 Speak!
Leet (often written in Leet as 1337) is a sociolect variety used primarily on the Internet, particularly in online games. The term itself is derived from the word Elite, meaning “better than the rest,” and generally has the same meaning when referring to the hacking skills of another person.
Leet can be defined as the perturbation or modification of written text. For example, the term leet itself is often written l33t, or 1337, and many other variations. Such perturbations are frequently referred to as “Leetspeak”. In addition to modification of standard language, new colloquialisms have been added to the parlance. It is also important to note that Leet itself is not solely based upon one language or character set. Greek, Russian, Chinese, and other languages have been subjected to the Leet variety. As such, while it may be referred to as a “cipher,” a “dialect,” or a “language,” Leet does not fit squarely into any of these categories. This article primarily concerns the English language variant of Leet.Numbers
Another use of 1337 is replacing numbers with letters. For example, 0 would be replaced with O. 1 would be replaced with i or I, 2 would be replaced with Z, 3 would be replaced with E, 4 would be replaced with A, 5 would be replaced with S, 6 would be replaced with G, 7 would be replaced with T, 8 would be replaced with B, and 9 would be replaced with P.
The Leet cipher and syntax
The Leet cipher is a highly dynamic, subjective cipher. It can be applied to many languages and character sets. As it incorporates new vocabulary and morphemes, the set of transliterations and corruptions increases. As the cipher was originally based upon English and the Latin alphabet, it is possible to derive a very basic set of common transliterations and corruptions.
The cipher itself is highly dynamic, and subject to stylistic interpretation. A simple list of transliterations follows:
Note: Leet is not standardized, thus variations of the following transliterations may exist or be created.
AB *CDE *FG *HI *JKL *MNOP *Q *R *ST *UVWXY *Z *4
-|_* Note the use of 7 for either L, T, or Y; the use of 2 for either R, Z, or Q; the use of £ for either E or L; the use of 6 for either B or G; the use of 9 for either G, P, or Q; and the use of 1 for either I, L, or T. The Position of ~ may change depending on the font
J, Q, and Y typically are not transliterated and are often used as themselves. There are some common Leet alternatives for other sounds, e.g. ck is often replaced with an X (based on the Greek letter Chi) as in haxor and suxors (hacker and sucks/suckers). The xx in haxxor can also mean ck, thus, hacker.
Additionally, letters in the middle of words may be transposed. This has become the subject of some discussion in the linguistics community . While the intentional transposition of letters in language is novel , Davis and Rawlinson have demonstrated that readers of most languages are capable of understanding the meaning of a word, provided complex phonemes and diphthongs are not corrupted . Because the meaning is easily conveyed, even with severe corruption of the original wording, the transpositions and substitutions can become quite elaborate. For emxalpe, tihs sntencee may siltl be raed, eevn tuoghh olny the frsit and lsat ltetres rmeian in teihr ogrinail palecs.
Many of the transposed characters cannot be typed simply on the computer. In Microsoft Windows, they must be inserted via Alt Codes or the Character Map. The Keyboard Viewer in the Mac OS (both X and Classic) displays the key combinations necessary to type special characters. They can also be inserted via the Character Palette in Mac OS X.Word endings
Use of xor and zor
The suffix -xor (also -zor, or other variations thereof) can be used, like the standard English -er and -or, to derive an agent noun from a verb, such as pwnzor or haxor, meaning one who pwns or hacks, respectively. It can also be suffixed to the stem of any verb, with no apparent change in meaning. The resulting verbs can be conjugated as regular English verbs.
Due to the phonetic sound of xor (a Z sound, as in xylophone), Leet speakers quickly began using zor and zorz as well and in similar context.
Using ri in combination with xor brings about long suffixes for higher levels of irony (e.g., “I am the suxorixorage”). The suffix -izzle may also be added to words in the same way as xor. This practice entered the popular culture based on rapper Snoop Dogg's use of the slang.
Some insist that xor was created as a divination from other abbreviations; e.g. X meaning cross and O + R with an implied V between them, altogether meaning crossover, a clever synonym for anything translated into leet.
In the phrase “rock your b0x0rz,” b0x0rz may not refer to boxers (i.e. underwear) but might refer to boxes (in computer slang: computers, though boxen or b0x3n may be more commonly used in this context). The more naïve interpretation "rocks your boxers" is still meaningful, however, as the sentiment is much the same and is often used to carry a connotation that one was 'rocked' so hard they felt it in their boxer shorts. This is also similar to the phrase "to scare one's pants off".Use of the -age suffix
A verb may be changed to a noun simply by adding -age, or an adjective to a noun with -ness. For example, speak becomes speakage or Leet becomes Leetness, as in “I know Leetness speakage,” meaning, “I know Leetspeak.” The addition of this suffix to the lexicon of popular culture is attributed to Pauly Shore.
The -age suffix has also been attributed to the punk/hardcore/emo band Descendents, and sometimes with the band ALL. The lead singer of the former, Milo Aukerman, possesses a Ph.D in biochemistry, and comically associates the band and himself with nerds and geeks. Members of the band have been involved with computers and software since the early 1980s. The Descendents commonly add the suffix -age to song and album titles such as “Myage,” “Cameage,” “Bikage,” “Liveage,” “Tonyage,” “Marriage,” and even “Coolidge.” Most of these songs can be found on their 1981 release Milo Goes to College (also ending with the -age sound). A Descendents tribute album was appropriately named Homage, which recognized the band's most common word morphology. Stockage was a punk music festival highlighted by performances from Descendents and ALL.
Due to the fluid nature of Leet, such derived nouns can be further re-purposed as verbs: “Complete Pwnage” (that is, “Completely owned”).
Words ending in -ed
In words ending in -ed, it is fairly common for the e to be dropped. It can either be replaced by an apostrophe, as is common in poetry (e.g., owned becomes own'd), or omitted entirely (e.g., owned becomes ownd). The word ending may also be substituted by -t. For example, owned would become ownt.Use of the -& suffix
In words ending with -and, -anned,, -ant, or a similar sound can sometimes have an ampersand (&) replacing the ending sound. This is most commonly used with the word banned (i.e. “I'm sorry, you've been b&”).
An alternate form of B& is B7, as the ampersand is attached to the 7 key. It is often seen in the phrase IBB7 (In before ban)
Leet, like other hacker slang, enjoys a looser grammar than standard English. The loose grammar, just like loose spelling, encodes some level of emphasis, ironic or otherwise. A reader must rely more on intuitive parsing of Leet to determine the meaning of a sentence rather than the actual sentence structure. In particular, speakers of Leet are fond of verbing nouns, turning verbs into nouns (and back again) as forms of emphasis (e.g. “Bob rocks” is weaker than “Bob r0xx0rz” (note spelling), which is weaker than “Bob is t3h r0xx0rz” (note grammar), which is even weaker than "OMFG D00d Bob is t3h UBER 1337 R0XX0RZ LOL". In essence, all of these mean "Bob rocks," not necessarily the other options. Added words and misspellings add to the speaker's enjoyment. Leet, like in other hacker slang, employs overgeneralization in construction of new words. For example, if haxored is the past tense of the verb “to hack” (hack → haxor → haxored), then winzored would be easily understood to be the past tense conjugation of “to win,” even if the reader had not seen that particular word before.
An increasingly common characteristic of Leet is changing its grammatical usage to be deliberately incorrect. For instance, instead of saying “Bob r0x0r” (“Bob rocks”), one might write, “Bob am teh r0x0r” (“Bob is the one who rocks”), or “Bob r teh r0x0rz” (“Bob are the rocks”), both of which incorrectly use the verb “to be,” and render the verb “to rock” as a noun. It is deliberately used to increase the level of irony of the statement. This deliberate misspelling is similar to the cult following of the “All your base are belong to us” phrase. Indeed, the online and computer communities have been international from their inception, so that spellings and phrases typical of non-native speakers are quite common.Rhyming and rhythm
While Leet is not generally spoken, it can be deemed close to stress-timed. Care is taken by users of Leet to combine similarly timed words, or to encipher words into ways such that they have a common rhythm or rhyme. An example of this is the phrase “roffle my woffles” (note both spelling error (woffle) and word timing) (“roffle” is derived from the phoenetic pronunciation of the acronym ROFL). Other examples would be "roxorz your boxorz" (in this case, rhyming). Leet can be highly lyrical and stylistic (even poetic), the way a typical pidgin language can be.
Over-exclamation and other emphasis
Another common feature of Leet is over-exclamation, where a sentence is postfixed with many exclamation marks.
In some cases, because the exclamation symbol (!) resides on the same key as the number one ("1") on English keyboards, over-exclamation can be accidentally (or purposely) typed with extraneous numerical digits, owing to the excitement of the typist: “This is really exciting!!!!!11”. This was especially likely in the context of fast-paced online multiplayer games, where typing carefully leaves the gamer vulnerable to attack. Some deliberately type the numbers, while others take the exclamation further and sarcastically replace some of the digits with words: “This is really exciting!!!!!!11eleven1111one”.
Other common typos and uses, whether intentional or otherwise:
- the use of the adjacent ~ (tilde) and @ keys
- the mistyping of the question mark following the same line as the exclamation mark, the most common being / and slash, as in: “What are you talking about???//??/?SLASH//?QUESTIONMARK?” A similar derivation comes from the location of the Z key next to the left shift. When typing words such as OMG, it has become common to instead type ZOMG to simulate the accidental typing of the Z in an effort to press the shift key.
In addition to variations on punctuation-based emphasis, it is common to combine two (or more) words and capitalize them to show emphasis. Perhaps most common would be the combination of OMG and **edit** to produce OMGWTF. For irony or excitement, some will then add ancillary SMS phrases to the end (i.e. OMGWTFBBQHAX!). This ending generally has the same meaning as the saying “..with gravy,” commonly added to the end of sentences. This creates OMGWTFBBQHAX, meaning, “Oh my god; what the f*** (with added emphasis)?.” Also common is NOWAI (from “no way”). Another phonetic abbreviation is omigawd (OMG with a “valley girl” accent, which is visible in the phonetic word structure).
As with most alternative Leet spellings or grammar, inclusion of these traits in a sentence is often done on purpose. The intent is typically to either lighten the mood, strengthen a point (by mocking someone who may not be party to the discussion), or convey a sense of irony, depending on the context.
Many words originally derived from Leet slang have now become part of the modern Internet slang, such as "pwned". The primary driving force of new vocabulary in Leet is the need to describe new phenomena. Another force is common misspelling and mistyping such as "teh", and intentional misspellings, especially the "z" at the end of words (“skillz”). Another prominent example of a surviving Leet expression is w00t (now sometimes purposely spelled as w0t0), an exclamation of joy.
Additionally, new words (or corruptions thereof) may arise from a need to make one's username unique. As any given Internet service reaches more people, the number of names available to a given user is drastically reduced. While many users may wish to have the username “CatLover,” for example, in many cases it is only possible for one user to have the moniker. As such, degradations of the name may evolve, such as “C@L0vr.” As the Leet cipher is highly dynamic, there is a wider possibility for multiple users to share the “same” name, through combinations of phonemes and transliterations.
Other common misspellings now standard in Leet are:
- evar, evah, and eva for ever. Generally used the phrase “Worst. [Something]. Evar.” (e.g. “Worst. Game. Evar.”) This construct is largely credited as a reference to a phrase often uttered by The Comic Book Guy, a recurring character on The Simpsons, which, itself, is a reference to a complaint uttered about the quality of the show by participants in the alt.tv.simpsons newsgroup.
- German ist for is has crept into Leet, including English encipherings. It is frequently used with word death (“Mp3 ist death.”). Also, "krieg"—German for war—in this context means, approximately, favorable (“Mp3 ist krieg.”). This usage is common among internet users who are fans of black metal. It is most likely derived from the Nargaroth album title Black Metal ist Krieg.
- Über (from German über: above, over) has also made its way into gaming communities to represent a quality of superiority. It usually appears as a prefix attached to adjectives, (“His rushes are überquick;” “The rocket launcher is überpowerful”) although it is occasionally used as a standalone descriptor (“Her playing style is über,” meaning “Her playing style is great.”). This is often written without the umlaut over the u.
- smrt or samrt for smart—The former may also be an intentional reference to an episode of The Simpsons in which Homer misspells smart in song whilst burning his high school diploma: “I am so smart! I am so smart! S-M-R-T! I mean S-M-A-R-T!”
- Teh, often spelled t3h, standing for the.
- gom for omg, meaning “Oh My God” or “Oh My Gosh”.
- J00 for you—This originates from either the J or Ch sound when the word you is following a consonant, such as “Don't you know?” which sounds like “Don't joo/chu know?” when spoken. It may also derive from other languages where J has the same sound as Y.
- Ma or Mah for my. This originated from either a southern dialect (in the case of “Mah”) of pronunciation or possibly ghetto/rap/hip hop pronunciations of the word. Similarly, meh can stand for me.
The expression "kekeke" is widely believed to have come from Koreans. In the Korean language, people expressed laughter in writing by repeating the letter "ㅋ" (Korean letter for the hard k [as opposed to the g or soft k, "ㄱ"], called 키읔 or "kieuk") many times over. Since early versions of StarCraft did not allow players to write in Hangul (the Korean writing system), Koreans would romanize their language. Hence, kekeke was born. The phrase is an onomatopoetic Korean phrase similar to the English and French "hahaha", Spanish "jajaja", Chinese "hehehe", or Japanese "fufufu" (also romanized as "huhuhu"; the Japanese syllable in question begins with a consonant similar to both English "f" and "h" but identical to neither), and is meant to express laughter. It is often used in-game as an expression of exaltation or as a form of mockery. Commonly, it is associated with a simple StarCraft tactic that involves massing a large number of units and using them to attack an enemy base before its owner is sufficiently prepared to defend. This is often called a Zerg Rush, after the StarCraft faction for whom the tactic was created. The phrase "OMG Zerg Rush! kekeke!!" is sometimes used outside of the game to indicate any form of overwhelming or swarming force.
Some English speakers use "kekeke" as a form of laughing, similar to giggling although it is still primarily used by Korean speakers.
The phrase also occurs on the MMORPG World of Warcraft, although its origin is completely different. There are two major factions in the game which 'speak' different languages. All chat text entered by a member of one faction will appear jumbled to a member of the other, and vice versa. As a result, members of the Alliance faction will see "kek" when a member of the Horde faction had typed "lol". The cipher works a little differently for longer words though, and "hahaha" becomes "kekekek". This has become an in-joke amongst World of Warcraft players. This is also a good example of what is known as an Easter Egg in the game World of Warcraft. The game writers at Blizzard used hundreds of famous phrases and names in populating the game world. KeK (Orcish for LOL) was intentional.
The term has also found its way to public chat channels on Battle.net.
Kekeke is also used as an evil laugh and is used by players using devious tactics and/or playing evil characters. While this usage is thought to have its roots in the laugh of Kefka, the main villain from Final Fantasy VI, kekeke is commonly associated with laughs of devious characters in Japanese manga, anime, and video games, and has made its way through various translations.
Pr0n or pron is Leet slang for pornography.
This is a deliberately inaccurate spelling/pronunciation for porn, where a zero is often used to replace the letter O. It is sometimes used in legitimate communications (such as email discussion groups, Usenet, chat rooms, and internet web pages) to circumvent language and content filters, which may reject messages as offensive or spam. The word also helps prevent search engines from associating commercial sites with pornography—which might result in unwelcome traffic. Pr0n is also sometimes spelled backwards (n0rp) to further obscure the meaning to potential uninformed readers.
It can also refer to ASCII art depicting pornographic images, or to photos of the internals of consumer and industrial hardware.
Pr0n is also used to show something is a good thing, or that it is worthy of admiration. For example, “That program is the pr0n,” “My gaming skills are the pr0n,” or “We have pictures of new computer hardware, click the link for the pr0n.”
Prawn, a spoof of the misspelling, has started to come into use, as well; conversely, in Kingdom of Loathing prawn, referring to a kind of crustacean, is spelled pr0n, leading to the creation of food items such as “pr0n chow mein”.
Pwn refers to the domination of a player in a video game or argument (rather than just a win). For example, in a multiplayer first-person shooter game, a player with a default starting gun defeats an opponent carrying a vastly superior weapon. This would indicate dominant skill in the player with the inferior weapon, who outplayed (pwned) the player with superior firepower. As is a common characteristic of Leet, the term has also been adapted into a noun and adjective, pwnage, indicating the superiority of its subject (i.e. “She is a very good player. She is pwnage.”).
There are several commonly accepted theories about its origin, most of which suggest derivation from the word own, a term once used by hackers to indicate full control over a computer. The word pwn means virtually the same as own. noob's pronounce pwn as p'own or poon. The correct pronunciation is simply own. Since the letter p on a QWERTY keyboard is right next to the letter o, it likely derives from a typographical error, which was eventually embraced by Leetspeakers.
A few theories state that pwn originates from “pure ownage,” “player own,” “power own,” “perfectly own,” or "pistol own." Using pwn rather than own means that one has beaten his opponent to a higher degree than own. Another theory is that the term came into being through the misspelling of the word pawn, pawn being the lowest prized chess piece. Therefore, when one has pwned someone, one has placed him or her in the lowest standing. However, even this word has been purposefully used as p4wn3d, as in, “I p4wn3d you.”
Another theory is based around online forum speak, where the text is usually seen as a smiley sticking its tongue out. Users would type wned and when the program rendered , it would show up as a round face, standing in for the o.
All theories denote supreme victory over one's opponent.
Within Leet, the term n00b (and derivations thereof) is used extensively. The word, meaning newbie (as in, new and inexperienced or uninformed), is used as a means of segregating the “elite” members of a group from outsiders. There have been other variations of the term. For example, nub, nubcake (sometimes spelled nubcaek), naab (from the Pakistani accent), 'n00blin', "neeb", and n00blet (a n00b who is, or acts like, a child).
Though they are often used interchangeably, there is a widely accepted separation of the definitions of newb and n00b: a newb is a person who is new to something, while a n00b is a detestable or inferior person. It is used in a derogatory sense, implying the target is being ignorant of his or her own failures, blaming others without reason, failing to learn, etc. Example: “Player one is a newb because he joined the game yesterday. Player two is a n00b, because he has played the game for a year and still can't win.” The word noob is the most common insult in all online games.
In primitive Leet, as used on BBS systems in the 1980s and into the very early 1990s, the usual term was Christmas Kiddie. A variant was greenie or Christmas greenie which was derived from the cowboy slang greenhorn. Christmas Kiddie which referred to the phenomenon where BBS systems were flooded with new members immediately following Christmas and Hanukkah because modems were a common holiday gift. If the kiddie was young, the term ruggie (derived from rugrat meaning child) might be used. The term greenie is also used in the MMORPG Everquest to refer to monsters far below the level of the player. If a player considers fighting a monster, the monster's returning text is green to indicate the monster's inferiority. The term is also used on the MMORPG Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates to refer to new players, whose names appear green until they have played for some time.
As the Internet evolved and modems saw a decline, the term Christmas Kiddie was shortened to just Kiddie with the meaning morphing slightly to indicate someone who did not know a lot about what they were doing online, and were just running scripts provided by other, more experienced users. This typically, but not necessarily, referred to children or noobs who had recently discovered the online world and were experimenting with various hacking scripts available.
Suxxor or suxorz
Suxxor (pronounced suhk-zohr) is a derogatory term which originated in warez culture and is currently used in multi-user environments such as multiplayer video games and instant messaging. The word is a modified version of the phrase “to suck”, and the meaning is the same as the English slang. It is the opposite of roxor.
There are two main uses: as a verb and a noun. Using the word as a verb, one could say, “Dude, that suxxorz!”, meaning, “That sucks. It is not good.” Using the word as a noun, one might say, “You are the suxxor.”, meaning “You are a bad person; you are bad at what you do.” Literally translated, this means, “U r teh suck,” but it could also mean, “you are a sucker (i.e. fool).” The two variations appeared independently: the verb version is antonymous to roxxor (Leet for “to rock”), and the noun could be a counterpart to haxor (Leet for hacker).
Suxxor is one of the early Leet words to use the -xor word-ending.
Among the early Internet slang was LOL, an indication of appreciation of humor, literally meaning “Laughing Out Loud” or “Lots Of Laughs”. Similar acronyms were quickly added to the lexicon, including ROFL (“Rolling On [the] Floor, Laughing”), and LMAO (“Laughing My Ass Off”). Derivations of the acronym quickly became incorporated into the Leet vocabulary.
Leet is prone to the corruption of words to suit rhythm and rhyming. This, in addition to various plays on the words (such as ROFLcopter, LMAOnade, LOLLERskates, LMAOynnaise, LOLLERgasm, LOLipops, LOLLERcaust, and LOLLERcoaster, etc.), has led to the creation of tongue-in-cheek words and phrases that don't actually utilize the original acronym, such as “roffle my woffles [sic]” and lawlsauce. Many people will pronounce the acronym as an actual word, For example, instead of saying each letter individually (“L-O-L”), the speaker will phoneticize the acronym's pronunciation (lawl or lohl).
Lawl or lawlz, however, can be used sarcastically, meaning, “It wasn't very funny, but I'll give you credit.”
Examples of Leet
Example: 7|-|3 [,]|_|1(|< |3|20\/\/|\| |=0>< ]|_|/\/\|?5 0\/3|2 73|-| |_42`/ [)06.
Translation: The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog
Example: 1 ]|_|57 |_34|2/\/3|) \/\/|-|47 1337 /\/\34/\/5.
Translation: I just learned what leet means
More common example: 7 |-| 4 7 |\/| 0 \/ 3 \|/ 4 5 1337!!!
Translation: That move was elite!!!
A more basic form: 7h15 15 4 v3ry b451c f0rm 0f 31i73, 0nly 1nv0lv1ng numb3r 5ub5717u710n.
Translation: This is a very basic form of elite, only involving number substitution