Leet (or "1337"), also known as eleet or leetspeak, is a system of
modified spellings and verbiage used primarily on the
many phonetic languages. It uses some alphabetic
characters to replace others in ways that play on the similarity of
their glyphs via reflection or other resemblance. Additionally, it
modifies certain words based on a system of suffixes and alternative
The term "leet" is derived from the word elite. The leet lexicon
involves a specialized form of symbolic writing. For example, leet
spellings of the word leet include 1337 and l33t; eleet may be spelled
31337 or 3l33t.
Leet may also be considered a substitution cipher,
although many dialects or linguistic varieties exist in different
The word "leet" is also simply used as an adjective to describe
formidable prowess or accomplishment, especially in the fields of
online gaming and in its original usage for computer hacking.
5.1 Terminology and common misspellings
5.2 Haxor and suxxor (suxorz)
Owned and pwned
6 See also
10 External links
Leet originated within bulletin board systems (BBS) in the
1980s, where having "elite" status on a BBS allowed a user
access to file folders, games, and special chat rooms. The Cult of the
Dead Cow hacker collective has been credited with the original coining
of the term, in their text-files of that era. One theory is that it
was developed to defeat text filters created by BBS or
Chat system operators for message boards to discourage the discussion
of forbidden topics, like cracking and hacking. Creative
misspellings and ASCII-art-derived words were also a way to attempt to
indicate one was knowledgeable about the culture of computer users.
Once the reserve of hackers, crackers, and script kiddies, leet has
since entered the mainstream. It is now also used to mock newbies,
or newcomers, on web sites, or in gaming communities. Some consider
emoticons and ASCII art, like smiley faces, to be leet, while others
maintain that leet consists of only symbolic word encryption. More
obscure forms of leet, involving the use of symbol combinations and
almost no letters or numbers, continue to be used for its original
purpose of encrypted communication. It is also sometimes used as a
script language. Variants of leet have been used for censorship
purposes for many years; for instance "@$$" (ass) and "$#!+" (shit)
are frequently seen to make a word appear censored to the untrained
eye but obvious to a person familiar with leet.
Leet symbols, especially the number 1337, are
Internet memes that have
spilled over into popular culture. Signs that show the numbers "1337"
are popular motifs for pictures and shared widely across the Internet.
One of the hallmarks of leet is its unique approach to orthography,
using substitutions of other characters, letters or otherwise, to
represent a letter or letters in a word. For more casual use of
leet, the primary strategy is to use homoglyphs, symbols that closely
resemble (to varying degrees) the letters for which they stand. The
choice of symbol is not fixed—anything that the reader can make
sense of is valid. However, this practice is not extensively used in
regular leet; more often it is seen in situations where the argot
(i.e., secret language) characteristics of the system are required,
either to exclude newbies or outsiders in general, i.e., anything that
the average reader cannot make sense of is valid; a valid reader
should himself try to make sense, if deserving of the underlying
message. Another use for
Leet orthographic substitutions is the
creation of paraphrased passwords. Limitations imposed by websites
on password length (usually no more than 36) and the characters
permitted (usually alphanumeric and underscore)
require less extensive forms of
Leet when used in this application.
Some examples of leet include
B1ff and n00b, a term for the
stereotypical newbie; the l33t programming language; and the web-comic
Megatokyo, which contains characters who speak leet.
Text rendered in leet is often characterized by distinctive, recurring
The -xor suffix
The meaning of this suffix is parallel with the English -er and -r
suffixes (seen in hacker and lesser), in that it derives agent
nouns from a verb stem. It is realized in two different forms: -xor
and -zor, /-sɔːr/ and /-zɔːr/, respectively. For example, the
first may be seen in the word hax(x)or (H4x0r in leet) /ˈhæksɔːr/
and the second in pwnzor /ˈoʊnzɔːr/. Additionally, this
nominalization may also be inflected with all of the suffixes of
regular English verbs. The letter 'o' is often replaced with the
The -age suffix
Derivation of a noun from a verb stem is possible by attaching -age to
the base form of any verb. Attested derivations are pwnage, skillage,
and speakage. However, leet provides exceptions; the word leetage is
acceptable, referring to actively being leet. These nouns are often
used with a form of "to be" rather than "to have," e.g., "that was
pwnage" rather than "he has pwnage". Either is a more emphatic way of
expressing the simpler "he pwns," but the former implies that the
person is embodying the trait rather than merely possessing it.
The -ness suffix
Derivation of a noun from an adjective stem is done by attaching -ness
to any adjective. This is entirely the same as the English form,
except it is used much more often in Leet. Nouns such as lulzness and
leetness are derivations using this suffix.
Words ending in -ed
When forming a past participle ending in -ed, the
Leet user may
replace the -e with an apostrophe, as was common in poetry of previous
centuries, (e.g. "pwned" becomes "pwn'd"). Sometimes, the apostrophe
is removed as well (e.g. "pwned" becomes "pwnd"). The word ending may
also be substituted by -t (e.g. pwned becomes pwnt).
Use of the -& suffix
Words ending in -and, -anned, -ant, or a similar sound can sometimes
be spelled with an ampersand (&) to express the ending sound (e.g.
"This is the s&box," "I'm sorry, you've been b&",
"&hill/&farm"). This is most commonly used with the word
banned. An alternate form of "B&" is "B7", as the ampersand is
typed with the "7" key in the standard US keyboard layout. It is often
seen in the phrase "IBB7" (in before banned), which indicates that the
poster believes that a previous poster will soon be banned from the
site, channel, or board on which they are both posting.
Leet can be pronounced as a single syllable, /ˈliːt/, rhyming with
eat, by way of aphesis of the initial vowel of "elite". It may also be
pronounced as two syllables, /ɛˈliːt/. Like hacker slang, leet
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.
"Austin rocks" is weaker than "Austin roxxorz" (note spelling), which
is weaker than "Au5t1N is t3h r0xx0rz" (note grammar), which is weaker
than something like "0MFG D00D /Ü571N 15 T3H l_l83Я 1337 Я0XX0ЯZ"
(OMG, dude, Austin is the über-elite rocks-er!). In essence, all of
these mean "Austin rocks," not necessarily the other options. Added
words and misspellings add to the speaker's enjoyment. Leet, like
hacker slang, employs analogy 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.
Leet has its own colloquialisms, many of which originated as jokes
based on common typing errors, habits of new computer users, or
knowledge of cyberculture and history.
Leet is not solely based
upon one language or character set. Greek, Russian, and other
languages have leet forms, and leet in one language may use characters
from another where they are available. 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. The term leet itself is
often written 31337, or 1337, and many other variations. After the
meaning of these became widely familiar, 10100111001 came to be used
in its place, because it is the binary form of 1337 decimal, making it
more of a puzzle to interpret.[Notes 1] An increasingly common
characteristic of leet is the changing of grammatical usage so as to
be deliberately incorrect. The widespread popularity of 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 spellings and phrases
typical of non-native speakers are quite common.
Many words originally derived from leet slang have now become part of
Internet slang, such as "pwned". The original driving
forces of new vocabulary in leet were common misspellings and typing
errors such as "teh" (generally considered lolspeak), and intentional
misspellings, especially the "z" at the end of words
("skillz"). Another prominent example of a surviving leet
expression is w00t, an exclamation of joy. w00t is sometimes used
as a backronym for "We owned the other team."
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@7L0vr." As the leet cipher is highly dynamic, there is a wider
possibility for multiple users to share the "same" name, through
combinations of spelling and transliterations.
Additionally, leet—the word itself—can be found in the
screen-names and gamertags of many
Internet and video games. Use of
the term in such a manner announces a high level of skill, though such
an announcement may be seen as baseless hubris.
Terminology and common misspellings
Warez (nominally /wɛərz/) is a plural shortening of "software",
typically referring to cracked and redistributed software.
Phreaking refers to the hacking of telephone systems and other
Teh originated as a typographical error of
"the", and is sometimes spelled t3h. j00 takes the place of
"you", originating from the affricate sound that occurs in place of
the palatal approximant, /j/, when you follows a word ending in an
alveolar plosive consonant, such as /t/ or /d/. Also, from German, is
über, which means "over" or "above"; it usually appears as a prefix
attached to adjectives, and is frequently written without the umlaut
over the u.
Haxor and suxxor (suxorz)
Haxor, and derivations thereof, is leet for "hacker", and it is
one of the most commonplace examples of the use of the -xor suffix.
Suxxor (pronounced suck-zor) 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; it, like haxor, is one
of the early leet words to use the -xor suffix. Suxxor is a modified
version of "sucks" (the phrase "to suck"), and the meaning is the same
as the English slang. Its negative definition essentially makes it the
opposite of roxxor, and both can be used as a verb or a noun. The
letters ck are often replaced with the Greek Χ (chi) in other words
Main article: Newbie
Within leet, the term n00b, and derivations thereof, is used
extensively. The word means and derives from newbie (as in new and
inexperienced or uninformed), and is used as a means of
segregating them as less than the "elite," or even "normal," members
of a group.
Owned and pwned
Owned and Pwn
Owned and pwn3d (generally pronounced "owned" and "poned",
respectively) both refer to the domination of a player in a video game
or argument (rather than just a win), or the successful hacking of a
website or computer.
As is a common characteristic of leet, the terms have also been
adapted into noun and adjective forms, ownage and pwnage, which
can refer to the situation of pwning or to the superiority of its
subject (e.g., "He is a very good player. He is pwnage.").
Pr0n is 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,
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 potentially uninformed readers.[Notes 2] It can also refer
ASCII art depicting pornographic images, or to photos of the
internals of consumer and industrial hardware. Prawn, a spoof of the
misspelling, has started to come into use, as well; in Grand Theft
Auto: Vice City, a pornographer films his movies on "
Conversely, in the RPG 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".
IDN homograph attack
Magic debug values, specific values written to a PC's memory
Mojibake, garbled text, resulting from text being decoded using an
unintended character encoding
Numeronym, e.g. "K9" for "canine"
Rebus, an allusional device that uses pictures to represent words or
parts of words
SMS language, a term for the abbreviations and slang used in mobile
phone text messaging and other social technology
Urban Dictionary, a crowd-sourced slang dictionary
Verlan, inversion of syllables in a word
Jargon File, is a glossary and usage dictionary of computer programmer
Arabic chat alphabet
^ This appears as an in-joke for technical illustrations such as
^ This can be observed by searching for "n0rp" on a search engine.
^ a b c d e f g h i j Mitchell.
^ a b c d An Explanation of l33t Speak.
^ Mello, John P.(2015) " Google Expands Bug Bounty Program"
February 2, 2015. E-Commerce Times
^ a b Rome.
^ Sterling, 70.
^ Blashki & Nichol, 80.
^ Blashki & Nichol, 79.
^ LeBlanc, 33.
^ Blashki & Nichol, 81.
^ a b Blashki & Nichol, 83.
^ a b Computer Hope Dictionary.
^ LeBlanc, 34-35.
^ a b c d Van de Velde & Meuleman.
^ LeBlanc, 30; 32.
^ a b The Acronym Finder.
^ LeBlanc, 32-33.
"The Acronym Finder". Mountain Data Systems, LLC. Retrieved
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Haig, Matt (2001). E-Mail Essentials: How to Make the Most of
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Look up leet in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Internet slang dialects
Lolspeak / LOLspeak / Kitteh
Martian language (Chinese)
Padonkaffsky jargon (Russian)
See also English internet slang (at Wiktionary)
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