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File:Leet Screenshot.png
The ELinks web browser, set to Leet language, on the Leet language version of Google.

Leet, usually written as "1337" in Leetspeak, is an online culture and/or attitude, as well as a language code, among the Internet population. The word itself is derived phonetically from the word "elite", and is a cipher, or cryptic form of spelling replacing letters with numbers, symbols, and other letters that look or sound alike. Leetspeak was first used by hackers (usually teenaged, and termed r0dents at the time) on Bulletin Board Systems, and then later adopted by users of Online Multiplayer Games and other Internet communities. "Leet" first appeared In the demoscene of the 1980s, applying to people belonging to large warez groups who had access to a (then rare) 28.8k baud modem and would be allowed to use "elite BBSes".

Spelling variation does not always follow a set convention. The same word may be spelt differently by different people, or even by the same person to confuse others even more. This is symptomatic of the desire or affected desire to elude comprehension by others unfamiliar with the foreign art form.

Many consider it a pointless affectation, and as it has become widely used it is less useful as a way of showing membership of an "elite" group. It is nonetheless a cultural phenomenon well-known amongst hackers and many other Internet users, especially gamers.

Certain factions maintain that "true" Leetspeak is spelled correctly, with the exceptions described below. They do not consider the use of extreme short forms (such as "b" for "be", or "u" for "you") as Leetspeak; instead, they refer to it by such terms as "AOL speak". This is because they associate such habits with users who use ISPs like AOL, which is associated with "noobness" and therefore not considered "elite." The chief difference between Leetspeak and AOL speak is that Leetspeak has the goal of obfuscating traditional written language while in AOL speak the goal is primarily to shorten words (and therefore allow "n00bs" to be able to communicate more quickly). Another convention sometimes associated with Leetspeak or Internet chatting is capitalizing every other letter (LiKe ThIs), sometimes called studlycaps or stickycaps. A similar habit involves capitalizing every consonant (LiKe THiS).


For those who do not normally read or write like this, automatic translators facilitate ciphering and deciphering Leet.

The term Leet is derived from the word elite. Leet can be either pronounced as "Leet" (monosyllabic - rhymes with "meat," IPA /liːt/) or by pronouncing the L separate from the rest of the word ("el eat" (elite)", IPA /ɛliːt/). Leetspeak 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 (referred to as "n00bs"). It also establishes a hierarchy, as more complex forms of Leetspeak 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 Leetspeak have become rather mainstream, as employees use the alternative spellings to circumvent their companies' mail filters designed to censor coarse language and other objectionable content. Leetspeak can also be used to disguise text within the object code of a program because it looks very much like binary data when viewed in a text editor.

One probable explanation of its origin is from bulletin board systems (BBSs) in the 1980s and early 1990s. It started with people trying to talk about illegal or otherwise questionable activities, such as software piracy, that some BBS operators did not want to be discussed or carried out via their systems. The operators would filter out certain words or ban people who used them. Most notably the word "hacker" was a common banned word.

Rather than stop talking about these topics, some BBS users would simply use variations on the words, for example "hacker" could be replaced by "hack0r", "h4cker", or "haxx0r".These variants could be banned too, to which the response was to change the word more and more until it was barely recognizable ("h4x0r", "|-|4><()|22"). Eventually the BBS operators realized that there was no way of banning words in a polymorphic language like Leet and gave up.

This later turned into a condition where having "elite" 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.

Something like Leetspeak has regained some popularity in SMS (Short Message Service) media, which often have severe length restrictions and originally required many key presses to spell out words correctly. More recently, Leet has re-entered the mainstream thanks to its use on various popular websites such as blogs, webcomics and forums and its widespread use on IRC. As an example of this mainstreaming, Sears introduced the "HE4T" model of Kenmore clothes-washer and dryer, in late 2004. People who enjoy irony sometimes use Leetspeak to bring attention to "secrets" they believe no one actually cares about, to joke, or emphasize a nuance. The irony is that now the major use of Leetspeak on the Internet is as an in-joke between computer geeks, as genuine usage has steadily declined. A good desktop translator is written by LinkManDX, located at [this page]. This allows you to change what the definitions of your 1337 are. It also has skins, and can copy to the clipboard.

Websites exist that are written entirely in Leetspeak. There are also converter programs which automatically convert ordinary English text into leet, at varying levels of complexity and there is even a variant of Google in the dialect [1].

Leet is also used by crackers and authors of viruses. The widespread backdoor program Back Orifice used port number 31337 to gain access to unsecured Windows computers.

Leet can also be seen leaking into more popular culture. For example, Cartoon Network's Adult Swim (a period of less-juvenile cartoons such as Family Guy and Sealab 2021, played late at night), which displays black screens with white text that update viewers as to schedule and provide entertainment, has used phrases like 'h4h4, we 0w|\|3d j00!' ("Haha, we owned you!") after a 'prank' was pulled.

Common transliterations

(subject to a great deal of individual variation):

A 4, /\, @, /-\, ^, ä, ª, aye G 6, &, (_+, 9, C-, gee (, M //., ^^, |v|, [V], {V}, |\/|, /\/\, (u), []V[], (V) S 5, $, z, §, ehs Y Y, '/, `/, V/, \-/, j also ¥, %
B 8, 6, |3, ß, P>, |: H #, /-/, [-], {=}, <~>, |-|, ]~[, }{, ]-[, ?, }-{ N //, ^/, |\|, /\/, [\], , <\>, {\}, []\[], n, /V, ₪ T 7, +, -|-, 1, '][' Z 2, z, ~\_, ~/_
C [, ¢, <, ( I 1, !, |, &, eye, 3y3, ï, ][ O 0, (), ?p, , *, ö U (_), |_|, v, ü
D |), o|, [), I>, |>, ? J ,|, _|, ;, _) P ph, |^, |*, |o, |^(o), |>, |", 9, []D, |̊, |7 V \/
E 3, &, £, ë, €, ê, |=- K X, |<, |{, ]{, }<, |( Q 9, (,), <|, ^(o)|, ¶, O_ W \/\/, vv, '//, \^/, (n), \V/, \//, \X/
F |=, ph, |# L 1, 7 (note the interchangeability of 1 for either L, T), 1_, |, |_, #, l R |2, P\, |?, |^, lz, [z, 12, |2, Я X ><, ?, +, ecks or )(

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" (73|-|), 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/w00t". Also, gamers for whom using Leetspeak seriously is out of style sometimes use it in an ironic sense, e.g. "ph342 m`/ 1337 sk1llz." ("Fear my leet skills.")

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 evicted (kicked out) if they are "being n00bs" 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 "E'li'†è Hàxo'r" which are more difficult to type in.

An alternate theory for why this obfuscation in gaming exists is that while it is true that the use of text obfuscation helps to prevent kicks, often these characters are used to make the player's name appear unique (perhaps simply because of a nick-clash with another user (or users) of a similar name). One can look at the use of different attributes, such as the ability to change the color of each character in games that support it, as evidence of this theory. This may lead to players feeling that they can "psyche out" the competition, as having spent the effort to make even just their name superior shows their dedication to their skills.

Leet in other languages

Kusachu in Japanese

The Kusachu language (クサチュー語 or 勹廾千ュ―言吾 Kusachū-go) is a form of leetspeak for Japanese written with a set of characters that replace common Hiragana, Katakana and some Kanji characters that look similar to them. It was compiled by Kusare Chubo (腐れ厨房) and is occasionally used on Japanese bulletin boards such as 2channel (2ch for short). "Kusare" means "gone bad" or "rotten", and 厨房 (kitchen) is pronounced the same as 中坊 ("Jr. High Kid", 中=middle and 坊=kid in this context). 厨房 is itself "2ch slang" for dimwit and is not used of real Jr. High children.

Kusachu also resembles (to the point of being almost the same) ギャル文字 (gyaru-moji, "girls' alphabet"), which is common among high-school aged girls. In 2ch slang, words are written using their homonyms or "you" => "u"-like shorthands, e.g. "ドキュン" (dokyun) => "DQN". In gyaru-moji, characters are composed using (sometimes very vaguely) similar-looking characters or their components, e.g. 話 => 言舌, し => ∪, キ => ≠, ハ => / \. Kusachu could be seen as a selective mixture of bohramt.

There are many "dialects" of these, and distinctions are not always easy to draw. The character-splitting style is closest to leet in the sense that it is hard to read for the uninitiated and generally despised of by those who don't use it. The 2ch style is closer to non-leet forms of netspeak, but it does have a comparatively large vocabulary.

Examples of Kusachu:

Original Converted Meaning
フリー百科事典ウィキペディア ┐リ―百科事典ゥィ‡∧・〒"ィ了 The Free Encyclopedia Wikipedia
あやしい ぁゃιぃ strange
爆死 火暴歹ヒ die in an explosion

Cyrillation in Cyrillic languages


For IRC and other programs as well as when a suitable character/font set is lacking, some users that use the cyrillic alphabet (such as in the Russian, Serbian, Ukrainian and Bulgarian languages) instead use phonetic versions of normal cyrilic words. They use letters that are similar in both alphabets, and where they need to use a character that isn't present in latin they use an ASCII character that in some way represents the original. This practice is widely popular as it saves time and also gives the text a rather cryptic look, but is sometimes prohibited in BBS and other services because some administrators believe it denigrates the traditional cyrilic alphabet or is harder to read and too informal in most cases. Here is a brief guide to converting a word from cyrilic to latin:

Similar/shared letters: A, E, M, K, O, T;

Letters converted by pronunciation: С<->S; Б<->B; Н<->N; B<->V; Х<->H; Л<->L; Ф<->F; Д<->D; З<->Z; У<->U,W; И<->I; Г<->G;

Other converted letters: Ь(silenter)<->X; Я<->Q; Ж(sz)<->J,V; Ъ(somewhat U)<->Y;

Other Symbols: Ч(ch)<->4; Ш(sh)<->6,[; Щ<->]; Ю(iu)<->\,Z,U sometimes;

Pictograms: }|{ - Ж; |-| - H; |-0 - ю, |/| - и, |\/| - м.

Note: The usual cyrilation styles are loosely based upon the phonetic and BDS cyrillic keyboard layouts. It is also notable that some characters share their appearance but have different pronunciations in Latin and Cyrillic - for example B in Cyrillic is equal to V in Latin. Alternations of this style are also present in other non-latin alphabets. Pictograms are used for ironic or humorous purposes.

Greeklish in Greek

Another form of transliteration used for the same reasons as Cyrillization is Greeklish, a way of writing Greek using only Latin characters, punctuation and numerals. Like Cyrillization, Greeklish is often difficult to read even for native speakers and is frequently discriminated against.

Leet slang


For full definitions please see Internet slang.

  • b4k4, from the Japanese word "Baka (Japanese insult)", meaning "idiots" or "stupidity". e.g. "U b4k4 n00b".
  • b7 , means "banned", comes from the pun b& (B-And), the & character being above the 7 character on most keyboards.
  • h4x, h4xx, "hack", "hacks". Usually programs that allow a user to cheat and gain an unfair advantage in multiplayer games. "H4x" can also refer to overpowered game elements (e.g. "omg that gun is über h4x.").
  • hax0r, h4x0r, h4xx0r, ""hack"","hacker". It is possible that the substitution of "ck" with "x" is a linguistic nod to the Greek letter chi (see TeX for the original example of this). However it is also a shortened way of expressing the phonetics of the word as it is "cks" that is being abbreviated to "x", which has the same sound. Sometimes used as a verb (e.g. "I haxx0r you").
  • j00, j00r, joor,, "you", "your/you're"
  • k3wL, "cool"
  • m4d sk1llz, "mad skills", talent of one sort or another; "m4d" itself is often used for emphasis (e.g. "m4d fragging")
  • n00b (also n0b), "newbie," most often meant in the derogatory sense.
  • ph33r or ph34r, "fear." Most commonly used as "ph33r m3h!"
  • pr0n, pornography
  • pwn, to "own" or otherwise completely dominate. Originated due to the proximity of the p and o keys. See main article for alternative spellings of pwn.
  • r00k, derogatory statement, rookie. origination unknown
  • r00t, administrator privileges, from the "root" account on Unix-like systems
  • -sauce (suffix) - is commonly used in leet to turn verbs or adjectives into nouns. e.g. somebody in possession or made of leetsauce is very leet. "I am sucksauce today" would mean roughly "I suck today."
  • sploitz, (short for exploits) a piece of computer software that takes advantage of a bug, glitch or vulnerabilityexploit (computer science).
  • teh, , used in place of "the" as an intensifier. e.g. "I am teh r0xx0r."
  • uber, ub3r, ub0r, from the German word über, meaning "super" (literally translated "over," the word has taken on a new meaning). Can be used as an adjective (e.g. "I am über.") or adverb (e.g. "I am üb3r-l33t.") Leetspeak purists would maintain that "uber" should be written only as "uber" or "über", with no substitution or capitalization.
  • übered, üb3r3d, "über hacked."
  • w00t or the emoticon \o/, a common interjection derived from the expression "Wow, Loot!" that may be made by people partaking in the game "Dungeons and Dragons". Also currently used to discribe a happy event. As in: "w00t I just gained a level!!"
  • warez, w4r3z, illegally copied software available for download (with copy protection, if any, disabled).
  • y0, j0, "yo". A greeting, used as an alternative for "Hi".
  • 1mb4, "Imba". Means Imbalanced, often used in MMO's. I.E "Your weapon is so Imba(taking other weapons into consideration)"
  • suicidal monkey,5u1c1d41 m0nk3y to commit a kamikazee attack in a fps. past tense suicidal monkey,5u1c1d41 m0nk3y

Use of x0r

Note that the construction "-xor" or any variation thereof can be pronounced variously as "-ker", "-zor", or "-ksor" (the latter two being the way the majority of English speakers would pronounce it).

In the phrase "r0x0rz my b0x0rz" (a phrase expressing approval, especially of something computer-related) for example, the "x0rz" in "b0x0rz" and "r0x0rz" is often pronounced as "ksors". Originally in this phrase "b0x0rz" refers not to "boxers" (i. e. underwear) but actually to "boxes" (in computer slang, computers). The more naïve interpretation "rocks your boxers" is still meaningful, however, as the sentiment is much the same.

The term "r0x0r j00r b0x0r" itself probably relates to hacking itself, with a person being able to gain access to and, from there, "rock their box". It is also possible that it is a derivation from "r0x0r j00r s0x0r", "rocks your socks". (The phrase "rocks your socks" could be derived from the saying, "It'll knock your socks off.") 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 Leetspeak is being spoken in.

An increasingly common use of the "-xor" is changing its grammatical usage to be deliberately incorrect. Instead of using "Bob r0x0r", "Bob am teh r0x0r" or "Bob are teh r0x0r" is deliberately used to increase the level of irony and to separate it from less ironic, true leetspeak. -xor is also used in user nicknames, Usually by 1337 users or wannabe 1337 users. (e.g: "Luxxor")

Use of m13

As you all know, ie is used for y after a vowel, so in 31337 1337 ie is 13373d to 13 and takes the place of y.


Leet, like other hacker slang, enjoys a loose grammar. Because the deliberate misusage of grammar, just like spelling, encodes some of the level of emphasis, ironic or otherwise, a reader must rely more on intuitive parsing of the leet-speak to determine the meaning of a sentence than the actual sentence structure. In particular, leet-speakers are fond of verbing nouns, turning verbs into nouns as forms of emphasis (e.g. "Bob rocks" is weaker than "Bob r0xx0rz" (spelling) is weaker than "Bob is teh r0xx0r" (grammar)). Leet, like in other hacker slang, employs overgeneralization in construction of new words. For example, if "h4xx0r3d" is the past tense of the verb "to hack" (hack->haxxor->haxxored), then "bl0wz0r3d" would be easily understood to be the past tense conjugation of "to blow", even if the reader had not seen that particular word before. (e.g: "I got the quad damage and bl0wz0r3d him up").

Use of $

This is the subject of some controversy among Leet-speakers. While $ is considered an acceptable substitute for "S" in any context by casual users of the language, among the more correct it is considered proper usage only when used in an ironic or insulting context with a connotation towards negative aspects of money (e.g. greed, monopoly, big business). i.e. "M$" (MS, short for Microsoft) is proper usage, but "r0xx0r$" is more properly spelt "r0xx0r5".

Phonetic spellings

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

Some common spellings:

  • "jaja" for "haha" from the Spanish j sounding like an English h
  • "d00d" for "dude"
  • "joo" for "you", also written as "j00" or "_|00"
  • "ph" for "f", as in "phear" for "fear" ("ph34r my/m13 l33t skillz") and vice versa, such as spelling "phonetic" as "f0|\|371("
  • 4n07h3r w413 t0 s413 my 1n 7r00 31337 1337 15 m13 -ie takes place of y and ie is 13 in 31337 1337-

N0t3 7h47 1n 7r00 1337, the following are considered improper. They are seen more as IM lingo or AOL speak.

  • "kewl" or "kwel" or "ku" or "ql" for "cool"
  • "r" for "are", "m" for "am", "y" for "why", "d" for "the", "b" for "be", "c" for "see", "u" for "you" (giving the common "c u" for "see you")
  • "2" for "to" or "too", "4" for "for" (but note "4" can also represent an "A" in proper 1337)
  • "ne" for "any", "ne1" for "anyone"
  • "u 1 2" for "you want to" ("icq"="i seek you" style)
  • "nite" for "night"
  • "10x" for "thanks"
  • "aight" for "all right"

Frequent misspellings

Frequently, common typing errors are also absorbed into leet. Transposition of adjacent characters is a common construction (make->maek, you->yuo). Other common misspellings now standard in leet are:

  • "evar" for "ever." This is usually used in the phrase "Worst. <something>. Evar!!!!111!!!!eleventyone!!!" e.g. "Worst. Game. Evar." This construct is largely credited as a reference to phrase oft uttered by The Comic Book Guy, a recurring character on The Simpsons.
  • German "ist" for "is", often used with word "death". For example, "mp3 ist death."
  • "pwn" or "pwned" for "own" or "owned". This originates from the 'P' key on a QWERTY keyboard being immediately beside the 'o' key and pressed by the less-than-nimble pinky (little) finger.
  • "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" or "t3h" for "the". "Teh" is the seminal and ubiquitous example of the leet letter-transposition construction of words. Also, "teh" can have a different grammatical function than "the", in that it can convert a following word into a noun (e.g. "I am teh r0xx0r.")

As with most alternate leet spellings or grammar, inclusion in a sentence is done on purpose, in order to lighten the mood, strengthen a point, or convey a sense of irony, depending on the context.


  • "WHeRE @Re J00" or "Wh3re aer j00?" for "where are you"
  • "wH4+'S j00R 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\/" for gosu, meaning "pro", from Korean players of StarCraft
  • "skilled r0x0rt looking for a team pgm only high lvl, pv me" for "I'm a qualified player looking forward to be hired by a progaming clan in electronic sports. Contact me now."
  • "Leet time", or 13:37
  • "1337teen", used commonly on forums and suchlike to denote the 1,337th post, pageviews, etc. eg; "My 1337teenth hit"
  • "1 4t3 j00r r4m3n n00d135" for "I ate your ramen noodles"
  • "ph33r teh 1337 h4x0r" for "Fear the elite hacker"
  • "j00 suX0rz!" or "j00 i5 t3h sux0rz" for "You suck!"

Use of age

Many times, a verb will be changed into a noun simply by adding 'age' in addition to adding 'ness' to the end of a verb, such as 'speak' becoming 'speakage' or leet becoming leetness, as in 1 k//0w 1337//355 5p34k4g3 or h15 pwn4g3 sh00d b3 ph33r3d.

After use of this started up, some users changed their words from a verb to a noun form, then used it as it a verb again, such as h3 pwn4g3d m3


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 ("1"), over-exclamation can be accidentally typed with extraneous digits, owing to the excitement of the typist: y0 d00d th1s 5h1zZ47 R0Xx0rzZ!!!!!11. This was especially likely in the context of online multiplayer games, such as Quake and Runescape.

Additionally, the adjacent ~ (tilde) and @ keys may be used in this fashion: t3h leik this OwNz!!11!?!??!@!!????//1!!~~ Some users have adopted this and include it deliberately.

A growing phenomenon is deliberately typing the word "one": pwnz0r3d!!!!!11oneoneone, and deliberately typing the words "exclamation mark", as in the next example. In some cases, this has been purposely exaggerated for comic or ub3r-L33+ effect, for example, L0l!!!11!eleventy-one1!1!11one1!!!exclamationmark!!11oneone!1. It can also be 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.

Another example of accidental misspelling may also be used in this manner, such as "omg!!11oneoneelven", where elven is the misspelling of eleven. On rare occasions "zOMG!!!!shift+1!!!" has shown up, where the user is taking it further and typing the keyforms that make up letters.

Even more satirical is the insertion of non-one numbers into a phrase as well as improper acronym usage in a humorous way, such as "OMGBRBBBQ!!11!11FORTY-TWO!!111!!17!1NINE!1111!1!", where 42 comes in as a joke stemming from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series of novels.

Yet another variation of the use of "one" in over-exclamation satire is the phrase "eleventyone," a reference to the distinctive way hobbits say the number 111 (in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring). Hence "LoL!!!!111eleventyoneone!"

Among the most strained echelons of the over-exclamation, particularly related to the number one, are mathematical formulas which would result in one. Example: OMGWTFBBQ!!1![2+(e^(pi*i))]!1!!uno!!

The trend is not limited to English speakers, and in many forums a mix of English and other languages can be observed, for example the Germish, "OMFG das rockt!!!!1111einsshifteins".

Leet as a spoken language

Not much thought is given to leet as a spoken language, for reasons relating to its origins as a sort of evolved form of Internet cipher. While Leet can be pronounced, it rarely occurs outside the mediums of multiplayer online gaming and IRC. It is not known whether this is because Leet, very uncommonly heard by the human ear outside of individual words which have made their way into the vernacular and slang of our time ("pwned", "roxxed," "haxxor", etc.), produces an unfamiliar and awkward sound for both the speaker and the listener, or whether it is because, for the same reason that abbreviations and ciphers are usually omitted from everyday speech, spoken Leet often takes more time to pronounce and articulate than the original sentence.

There may be people who speak almost entirely in the Leet language with words pronounced as they would be spelt in written Leet, but the only such individuals we know about are fictional (see "Largo", Megatokyo) in media where there is no spoken word (in this case, a comic). It is commonly said (in jest) that if leet speakers met and attempted to communicate by speech, they would have to communicate through subtitles.

Leetspeak is, however, extremely common in high school gamer groups, especially in those who frequently play LAN/online games such as Counter-Strike, Battlefield, Unreal Tournament, Quake, Halo (video game series) and others. Often, those with a reasonable amount of playing experience in any of these games will make fun of "n00bs" by using Leet to intimidate them.

Rarely, with the introduction of such applications as teamspeak and general real life meeting of familiar gamers, some have been known to pronounce the more common terms such as "pwn" (pawn, pown, poon, pween, pwown), "own", and "noob" (nub, noob, newb, naab, nublet, n00blet, nubsicle, n00bsicle).

Examples in non-gaming groups have been noted, including pronunciation of "teh" in place of the definite article in speech.

Leet in videogaming

.hack (Dot Hack)

In the anime, video game, manga and book franchise .hack, there is a character named Sora. In the original Japanese versions of the various media, he adds sound effects and assorted strange phrases to his regular speech. In the fourth video game of the franchise, he is a playable character. In that game, his speech turned out to be a problem for the translators. As a solution, it was transposed into Leet, the closest English equivalent.

Age of Mythology

One of the cheats available in the game Age of Mythology is "L33T SUPA H4X0R". This cheat allows you to construct, train and research faster.

Alien Hominid

The console version of Alien Hominid uses the term "pwned" in one of its mini-games. Tom Fulp, the main writer and programmer for the original version, is deemed an "31!73 |-|4x0|^" for creating the website Newgrounds.com.

Anarchy Online

A "Leet" is also the name of a furry, cuddly creature in the online massively multiplayer role playing game, Anarchy Online. Leets are cuddly, speak in leet speak, and, within the game's story, are considered a nuisance. The names of the various kinds of leets found in the game world play on leet, with progressively stronger leets named Leet, Eleet, Leetas, Soleet, Phear Leet and Supa Leet, in addition to special unique leets named Joo and Ownz. Their cuteness has in many ways made them a mascot for the game, with calls for plush leet dolls being common, and a special set of leet pets being the pre-order gift for Alien Invasion, Anarchy Online's third expansion.

Area 51

In Area 51 the video game for PS2, when playing multiplayer when you kill someone one of the messages in the top is _______ pwned joo.

Batman Begins

In the Batman Begins video game, the keypad code to enter a computer room is 1337.

Battlefield 2

In single player mode if you kill 100 bots with no deaths a message will appear from one of the bots saying "joo R 1337!!1"

City of Heroes

Two of the Freakshow villains in the MMOG City of Heroes are named TeH OwNz0r! and TeH PwNxxOrz.


You can select the 1337 Crew as a "Terrorist Faction". 1337 Krews are skinny men, who wear thick glasses, green collared shirts and khaki pants, perhaps as a stereotype of a computer hacker.

Destroy All Humans!

knull meg i rompa


In the Mines of Gloomingdeep zone, one of the MOBs is called "Clockwork MCCCXXXVII"; MCCCXXXVII is 1337 in Roman numerals.

Full Spectrum Warrior

One of the characters in Full Spectrum Warrior, Pvt. Ota or Samuel Jay, speaks leet. A quote from the official website: "He loves his PC, a 1337 over-clocked screamer with OTT case mods."

Kingdom of Loathing

Kingdom of Loathing has many sarcastic references to 1337, including an enemy known as "1335 haXxor"(Not quite 1337), the item "1337 7r0uz3rz" (elite trousers), The 31337 and 64735 scrolls (elite and gates, respectively, and practically all of the events encountered in the Valley of Rof L'M Fao.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

In this game, in the third case, there is a NPC called Sal Monella. His speech is almost entirely comprised of 1337. When Sal Monella mentions the word 'sux0rz', a common 1337 word, your assistant, Maya, asks what it means. This is never answered in the game.

Pocket Kingdoms

N-Gage MMORPG Pocket Kingdom: 0wn the W0rld makes heavy use of Leet and gamer slang in its Non-player character's dialogue. It does so with a comic intent: the game's tagline is "Own the World," which is in itself a reference to the Leet phenomenon. This is partly due to the game being based upon the online community.


In Psychonauts, there is a cheat code which, when activated, translates all the captions to 1337speak, and replaces the character names with those of people who worked on the game. (such as Coach Oleander translating into Tim Schafer.)

Star Wars: Republic Commando

In Star Wars: Republic Commando, one of the commandos named Scorch, when ordered to slice a terminal, will sometimes say "no terminal can withstand my l33t h4x0r ski11z".

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

In the strictly single-player RPG Morrowind, an easter egg Non-playable character can be asked about 'multiplayer' in the game. The answer given: "You wish others to help you in your quest? Coward! If you must, search for the Argonian Im-Leet, or perhaps the big Nord, Rolf the Uber. They will certainly wish to join you." The two names are in style with the rest of the game, but with a touch of 1337. There is also a hidden instrument item, a lute, named the "Fat Lute," a reference to the leet phrase "phat loot".

Tony Hawk's Underground

One of the characters on Tony Hawk's Underground says "l33t" and "r00l" and an online message says "I own3d j00." In its sequel, one of the objectives in the story mode is "Berlin Gets Owned", in which the player needs to destroy a billboard so that it reads "owned."

World of Warcraft

One mini-boss in Blizzard's World of Warcraft, Rend Blackhand, will sometimes shout "Woot!" when the battle goes in his favor: Screenshot with additional 1337speek Another boss, Postmaster Malown, will yell that someone has just been "Malowned" when he kills a character. There is a sub-boss in the low level instance "The Deadmines" called Rhahk'Zor, pronounced the same as "R0XX0R". Additionally, a quest in Un'Goro Crater invents a plane that the goblin proposes to call "Pwned".

Warcraft 3

Im not entirely sure the cheat, but if you use a cheat on the tutorial's first level, you see Scurvy Pirates guarding Phat lewt, un 13373d leet.

Sociological aspects of Leet

A hidden message on the display device page.

Leetspeak can be said to be an expression of some general laws of sociology as it applies to small tribes or cliques which strive to maintain a sense of elitist cultural identity and uniqueness in the midst of the 'ignorant masses' by inventing linguistic and fashion styles. Such behavior is deeply ingrained in the human psyche, perhaps to the point of being encoded in the genes. In literature, the book Lord of the Flies depicts the evolution of such behavior.

Leetspeak often represents an intermediate stage in a user's familiarity with the Internet. First there is the "newbie" stage, where the user is ignorant about the customs and language of the Internet. Next there is the Leet stage, where the user has obtained enough information to "speak leet" to prove his superiority over "n00bs" or to simply shorten typing time. Grammar is often ignored. The third and final stage is a more mature stage, where most words are spelt in full and grammar is used correctly. Most major websites are maintained by people in this stage—highly Internet savvy people who only use leet sarcastically.

One of the currently important uses of such devices as Leetspeak is to allow some legitimate discourse on some subjects that cross the boundary of 'political correctness' in many tightly controlled communication media. It is also sometimes used as a way to imply certain impolite expressions without causing offense (the emotive impact of these words in raw language overwhelm their denotive meaning), similar to the !@!*@($%) type expressions commonly seen in cartoons to indicate cursing (the desire is to interject the meaning without the negative impact). Another common use is to avoid activating automatic filtering systems which will intercept many expressions that are thought to indicate illicit content. Again the normal objective is to exercise free speech, not illicit activity in the general sense of the word. Banning of forms of expression by authorities has made the use of alternate language forms a common tool of expression down through the ages. The use of "pr0n" to refer to pornography while avoiding automated filters is an example.

See also

Examples of leetspeak

  • B1FF, the stereotypical newbie
  • ESC4P3, an album by the band Journey
  • Pwn, a verb meaning 'to beat' (someone)
  • Reanimation, Linkin Park's album of remixed songs (the singles are written in leet)
  • Teh, a common misspelling now used for superlative form
  • w00t, acronym for "We Owned the Other Team," where "owned" is a variant of "pwned"
  • l33t programming language
  • Roxor Games, video game publisher
  • S1m0ne, the title of a 2002 science-fiction drama film
  • b3ta, humorous British website, described as a "puerile digital arts community"

External links


de:Leetspeak es:Leet fr:1337 5p34k gl:Leet ko:리트 it:Leet nl:Leet ja:クサチュー語 pl:Hack mowa simple:Leet fi:Leetspeak sv:Leet