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Leet

For those who do not normally read or write like +H1$, automatic translators facilitate ciphering and deciphering leet.
For those who do not normally read or write like +H1$, automatic translators facilitate ciphering and deciphering leet.

Leet (often Eleet, leetspeak, leetspeek, l33t, ej33t, 31337, or 1337; from "élite") is a cipher, or novel form of English spelling. It is characterized by the use of non-alphabet characters to stand for letters bearing a superficial resemblance, and by a number of quasi-standard spelling changes such as the substitution of "z" for final "s" and "x" for "(c)ks". Leet is traditionally used on the Internet and other online communities, such as bulletin board systems, sometimes to complement Internet slang or "chatspeak". Leet is used by hackers, crackers, script kiddies, gamers, Animators, and even lamers. Although leet is not popular amongst some hackers, who think that it is immature and prefer their prose to reflect the cleanliness of syntax of their code (although consistent leetspeak could arguably do so), it is nonetheless a cultural phenomenon well-known amongst hackers and many other internet users, and is used by many computer professionals because of this.

Certain factions maintain that "true" leetspeak is spelled correctly, with the exceptions described above. They do not consider the use of extreme short forms (such as "b" for "be", or "u" for "you") to be leet or leetspeak; instead, they refer to it by such terms as "AOL speak" because they associate such habits with users who came to the internet later, many of whom first used software MSN Messenger or AOL Instant Messenger to communicate with each other. Another convention sometimes associated with leetspeak or Internet chatting is capitalizing every other letter (LiKe ThIs), sometimes called stickycaps. A similar habit involves capitalizing every letter except for vowels (LiKe THiS).

Contents

Overview

The term "leet" comes from the word "élite". Leet can be either pronounced as "leet" (monosyllabic, rhymes with "meat", SAMPA /li:t/) or by pronouncing the L separate from the rest of the word as "el eat" (élite)", SAMPA /Eli:t/. Leet is a form of written slang or street talk for the information highway. It is sometimes used to create group identity and to obscure meaning from outsiders, especially newbies (which may be written "n00bs"). It also establishes a hierarchy, as more complex forms of leet are increasingly unreadable to the untrained eye (consider the phrase "PHr3Ku3N7ly H4s|{3d K0o£St330nZ!": it translates to "frequently asked questions". Note the extraneous h in front of asked and the construction "teeonz" as meaning "tions"). Simple forms of leet have become quite mainstream, as employees use the alternative spellings to circumvent their companies' email filters designed to censor swearwords and other objectionable content.

The most probable explanation of its origin is from bulletin board systems (BBSs) in the 1980s and early 1990s where having "élite" status on a BBS allowed a user access to file areas, games, and special chat rooms, often including archives of pirated software, pornography, and text files of dubious quality documenting topics such as how to construct explosives and manufacture illegal drugs. Some people think that leetspeak or hakspek that shortens text may have been developed to decrease bandwidth usage before the bandwidth explosion of the 1990s, but this is most likely not the case, as such methods would have had extremely minimal effect on actual bandwidth usage.

Leet is regaining popularity in SMS (Short Message Service) media. More recently, leet has re-entered the mainstream thanks to its use on various popular websites such as blogs, webcomics and forums. People who enjoy irony sometimes use leetspeak to draw attention to "secrets" they believe no one actually cares about, to joke, or emphasize a nuance.

Websites exist that are written entirely in leet. There are also converter programs which automatically convert ordinary English text into leet, at varying levels of complexity (depending on how 1337 the program is). External links: The l33t surfer, a web tool to surf the web the l33t way; A version of Google aimed at the 1337 demographic.

Examples

  • "warez" for software (typically bootlegged software)
  • "pr0n" for pornography
  • "sploitz" (short for exploits) known vulnerabilities in computer software
  • "script kiddie" — a derogatory term used by computer professionals to denote people who download pre-made automated exploit scripts and who possess little actual understanding of how computer software works internally. Another common variant is "skript kiddie"
  • "0wned" — completely dominated (in a game); hacked into (of a computer), in the past tense, this is "0wnz0r3d". This word may also be used as a non-leet, conversational slang term. This term is sometimes spelled pwn, pwn3d, pwnz0r3d or pwnx0r3d, and the origin of this variation is said to have derived from a typo (although this explanation is probably apocryphal): a user-created Warcraft level included a message sent to all players in the event of a player's defeat: (player name) has been owned. However, because P and O are side-by-side in the QWERTY layout, the message is said to have been (player name) has been pwned, and when the level was released, pwned entered the l33tsp33k vocabulary. Another explanation states that "pwned" arose from "Pistol Owned" or "Pistol Ownage" in the popular online game "Half-Life Counter-Strike", when a player was beaten by a lightly armed foe, and for the sake of brevity, was shortened to simply pwned.
  • "carding" for credit card fraud of one form or another, "CC" for credit card
  • "eggable" for Unix shell accounts (where one can install and run Eggdrop, an IRC bot)
  • "r00t" for administrator privileges (from the Unix administrator account root)
  • "m4d sk1llz" for hacking talent of one sort or another and also being possessed of great ability in terms of computer games, Webmastering, or flaming. Also used for other talents, in "m4d [talent] sk1llx0rz"; "m4d" itself is often used for emphasis (such as in "m4d fragging").
  • "phreaking" for hacking telephone systems and other non-internet equipment
  • "w1k1", "w1|<1" or "\^/!|{!" for wiki (although the leetness of wikis are questionable, unless one runs one's own MediaWiki server)
  • "n00b" for someone who acts experienced in an area despite little knowledge of that area, also occasionally the 1984 inspired "pr013"', short for proletariat. (Various other adjectives abound, these being the most civil of them.) Also "pe0n". They are sometimes said to throw n00k s around in nation role-playing games such as NationStates. Variations such as "nub" or nubsauce are also popular.
  • "w00t", w007, or \^/007 or the smiley \o/ is a common interjection, analogous to "Yeah!" or "Yippee!" or "WhooHoo!" Although some think that it originated as a variant of the interjection "whew", we must take into account the hacking-based origins of leet, which would suggest that it is more likely a cry of celebration that 'stuck' when a hacker gained root access. Another view is that it originated from an acronym for Want One Of Those. It also may have started as part of the online arena-FPS gaming community (esp. Quake) — short for "We Own the Other Team". Another possible reason is that it is a somewhat flawed acronym for "wow loot" originatining from MUD (multi user dungeon) games when coming across treasure.
  • "hax0r", "#4><0|2" for "hacker" — where the symbols are used to draw rough approximations to letters: >< is an "x", |2 is an "r". It is possible that the substitution of "ck" with "x" is a linguistic nod to the Greek letter chi. Also, Haxor is sometimes found as "Haxxor", as symbols for "x" are often doubled.
  • Note that the construction "-xor" or any variation thereof can mean not only "-ker" but also "zor" (which is how majority of English speakers would say it). In the phrase "r0x0rz my b0x0rz", which means the object of the phrase (usually a game, program, exploit, etc.) is of high quality, "x0rz" in the word "r0x0rz" is almost ignored (pronounced "ks" so that the whole word is "rocks") while the "x0rz" on "b0x0rz" is pronounced "kszors". It is important to note that while "b0x0rz" appears to be leet for "boxers", it is actually from a common leet expression "r0x0r j00r b0x0rz", "b0x0rz" meaning "computers" (sometimes referred to as boxes, or among system administrators, boxen). "r0x0rz" is generally pronounced as "roks-ors", which is how it is spelled; however, a very small minority pronounce it "rockers", following the usage in "hax0rz". The term "r0x0r j00r b0x0r" itself is probably a derivation from "r0x0r j00r s0x0r" ("rocks your socks"). It should be noted that although the spelling of leet is fairly standardized, pronunciation differs widely, as does the actual alphabet used. Much depends on which forum, newsgroup, or chat room the leet is being spoken in.
  • "h4x" for "hacks"
  • "sux0rz" for "sucks" in "s|_|x0rz my n|_|tz0rz" when one feels pity for someone else, or when angry.
  • "suxxor" for some other person considered unfriendly, this is also used in friendly name calling among gamers.
  • "ffs" used a lot when angry, meaning "for fuck's sake". Alternatively "funny fucking shit".
  • "uber" or "Ub3r", from german, stands for "super", in "Ub3r-l337" or "ub3r-g33kx0rz".
  • kr4d

There are many incarnations of leet, and it is continuously evolving as more people add to it, and thus, a single word can be "spelled" in many different ways. For example, "phonetic" could be |>|-|0n371><, p|-|0|\|3+1|<, |>h0|\|371<, ph0n371k.

"Phonetic" spellings

  • "d00d" for "dude"
  • "joo" for "you", also written as "j00" or "_|00"
  • "ph" for "f", as in "phear" for "fear" (as in "ph34r my l33t skillz")
  • b4k4 or |34|<4 for "baka". Baka is the Japanese word for "idiots" or "stupidity".

Note that in true leet, the following are considered improper.

  • "kewl" or kwel or ku or ql for cool
  • "r" for are, u for you, c for see (giving the common "see you")
  • "2" for to or too, 4 for for (but note "4" can also represent an "A")
  • "8" for -ate, as l8r for later
  • "ne" for any
  • "u 1 2" for "you want to"

Frequent misspellings

Frequently, common typing errors are also absorbed into leet, such as

  • "aer" for "are"
  • "yuo" for "you"
  • "teh" for "the" (also sometimes used as an intensifier: "He is teh lame"), although "teh shit" is a good thing, meaning cool as in "It's teh shit!"
  • "smrt" for "smart" (this may also be an intentional reference to an episode of The Simpsons in which Homer misspells smart in song: "I am so smart! I am so smart! S-M-R-T! S-M-R-T! ... I mean, S-M-A-R-T!")
  • "waht" for "what"
  • "leik" or "liek" for "like", usually sarcastic - generally when making fun of a skript kiddie or AOL-er
  • German "ist" for "is", often used with word "death". eg. "mp3 ist death". The opposite is also true.

Other examples

  • "WHeRE @Re J00" or "Wh3re aer j00?" for "where are you"
  • "wH4+'S uR nAME" for "what is your name"
  • "/\/\¡|<£'§ 1££+ §|<¡11§ þ|/\||\| _|¤¤" — an example of especially obfuscated leet (see:obfuscated code), this translates to "Mike's leet skills own you".
  • "g0s\/", meaning "pro", from Korean players of Starcraft

Another common feature of leet is over-exclamation, where a sentence is postfixed with many exclamation marks: pHu><x0|2z j00 L4yMUr!!!!!!!!!! In some cases, because the exclamation symbol (!) resides on the same key as the number one, over-exclamation can be accidentally typed with extraneous digits, owing to the excitement of the typist: y0 d00d th1s 5h1zZ47 R0Xx0rzZ!!!!!11 Additionally, the adjacent ~ (tilde) and @ keys are used in this fashion: t3h leik this [email protected]!!????//1!!~~ Some users have adopted this and include it deliberately. A growing phenomenon is deliberately typing the word "one": pwnz0r3d!!!!!11oneoneone; in some cases, this has been purposely exaggerated for comic or ub3r-L33+ effect, i.e., L0l!!!11!eleventy-one1!1!11one1. It is also used to poke fun at users of AOL speak, and other 'lesser' cultures. Note that letter-to-number translations tend not to occur within these "oneoneone" blocks.

Megatokyo

The webcomic MegaTokyo has caused a popularisation of leet through the characters Largo and Junpei, who are fluent in leet, and the use of leet on some of the other characters clothing. Even Boo, the hamster of Baldur's Gate fame, can squeek in leet. Some of the phrases are regularly quoted by fans of the webcomic in many forums, chats and multiplayer games, like 'ph33r my l33t skillz' (fear my elite skills)

Common letter-to-number or letter-to-symbol translations

(subject to a great deal of individual variation):

A 4 or /\ or @ G 9 or 6 M //. or ^^ or |v| or [V] or {V} or |\/| or /\/\ or (u) S 5 or $ or z Y Y or '/ or `/ or V/ or \-/ or j also ¥ (alt+0165)
B 8 or 6 or |3 or |> H # or [-] or {=} or <~> or |-| or ]~[ or }{ N // or ^/ or |\| or /\/ or [\] or <\> or {\} T 7 or + or -|- or 1 Z 2 or z or ~\_ or ~/_
C [ or &cent or < or ( I 1 or ! or | O 0 or () U (_) or |_| or v
D |) or o| or [) J ,| or _| or ; P |^ or |* or |o or |> or |" or |? V \/ or <
E 3 or & K |< or |{ or ]{ or }< Q 9 or (,) or <| or ¶ W \/\/ or '// or \^/ or (n) or \V/
F |= L 1 or | or |_ R |2 or 2 or P\ X ><
  • Note: The word "I" will sometimes be replaced with the word "eye" (3y3).

In recent years, leet has dropped out of style in some communities. Some gamers and internet users choose not to use it as they consider it to signify weakness and immaturity rather than coolness or of "having skills/sk1LLz". However, many words from leet are now a significant part of modern Internet culture, such as "pwned", the common leet misspellings such as "teh", and especially the "z" at the end of words, such as "skillz". Another prominent example of a surviving leet expression is the ever-popular "woot/w007". Also, gamers for whom using leet speak seriously is out of style, sometimes use it in a joking context. "h42 h42, u ar3z s00 1337" or "ph342 m/\ 1337 sk1llz".

Another location for similar text obfuscation is in Multiplayer gaming, especially involving other characters from the ASCII set. Some Multiplayer games allow for users to be kicked out if they are "being lame" or generally annoying the crowd, by using a simple command like "!kick username" which works fine as long as the username constitutes letters that can be typed with a normal keyboard. To prevent some kicks, people may use names such as "Élí†è Hàxór" which is difficult to type in, if possible at all.

Related articles

Examples of leetspeak

External links



Last updated: 10-24-2004 05:10:45