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Leet (often l33t, 31337 or 1337) is a coded, or simply a novelty 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 "ck". It is often used on the Internet by hackers, crackerss, script kiddies and gamers. Even lamers are beginning to pick up parts of it. Some hackers do not use l33tspeak due to its association with Internet users whom they dislike.

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, or u) to be leet or leetspeak; instead, they refer to it by such terms as "AOL speak" because they associate such habits with people who chat using MSN Messenger or AOL Instant Messenger. Other habits which are sometimes associated with leetspeak or Internet chatting is capitalizing every other letter (JuSt LiKe ThIs). A similar habit involves capitalizing every letter except for vowels (JuST LiKe THiS).

Table of contents
1 Overview
2 Examples
3 Phonetic spellings
4 Frequent misspellings
5 Other examples
6 Common letter-to-number or letter-to-symbol translations
7 See also
8 External links


The term "leet" comes from the word "elite". Leet can be either be pronounced as "leet" (monosyllabic, rhymes with "eat") or by pronouncing the L separate from the rest of the word as "elle eat" (elite). The most probable explanation of its origin is from bulletin board systems in the 1980s and early 1990s 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. It may also have developed to defeat text filters created by BBS sysops for message boards to discourage the discussion of forbidden topics (such as cracking).

Leet is also known as hakspek or leetspeak, especially when used to shorten messages. This type of Leet may have been developed to decrease bandwidth usage before the bandwidth explosion of the 1990s. It is also regaining popularity in SMS (Short Message Service) mediums, especially among users of Trillian. More recently, leet has re-entered the mainstream thanks to such webcomics as Megatokyo and its character Largo.

Leet is a form of written slang. It is 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 K0oSt330nZ!": 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 are making their way into the mainstream, as employees whose companies use email filters resort to creative spellings to prevent swearwords from being censored.

Websites exist that are written entirely in leet. There are also converter programs which amusingly render ordinary English text into leet, at varying levels of complexity.


  • "warez" for software (typically bootlegged software)
  • "pr0n" for pornography
  • "sploitz" (short for exploits) known vulnerabilities in computer software
  • "skript kiddie" - a derogatory term used by computer professionals to denote young teenagers who download pre-made automated exploit scripts and who possess little actual understanding of how computer software works internally.
  • "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 or pwnz0r3d, 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.
  • "CC" or "carding" for credit card fraud of one form or another
  • "eggable" for Unix shell accounts (where one can install and run Eggdrop, an IRC bot)
  • "r00t" for adminstrator 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] sk1llz"; "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"
  • "n00b" for someone who acts experienced in an area despite little knowledge of that area, also occasionally "pr013", short for "proletariat". (Various other adjectives abound, these being the most civil of them.) Also "pe0n".
  • "w00t", "w007", or "\\^/007" or the smiley "\\o/" is a common interjection, analogous to "Yeah!" or "Yippee!" It originated as a variant of the interjection "whew."
  • "haxor", "#4><0|2" for "hacker" -- where the symbols are used to draw rough approximations to letters: >< is an "x", |2 is an "r"
    • Note that the construction "-xor" or any variation thereof can mean not only "-ker" but also "zor" (which is how a 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, "x0r" in the word "r0x0rz" is almost ignored (the word is pronounced "rocks") while the "x0r" on "b0x0rz" is pronounced "zor", as the word is a variation on "boxers". Of course, some pronounce "r0x0rz" as "roks-ors", which is how it is spelled. A very small minority pronounce it "rockers", following the usage in "hax0rz". It should be noted that although the spelling of leet is fairly standarized, pronunciation differs widely, as does the actual alphabet used. Much depends on which forum, newsgroup, or chat room the leet is being spoken in.

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")
  • b4k4^2 or |34|<4^2 for "baka squared." In other words...really stupid.

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

Frequent misspellings

Frequent typos are also absorbed into leet, such as

  • "yuo" for "you"
  • "teh" for "the" (also sometimes used as an intensifier: "He is teh lame")
  • "pwn" for "own" (to defeat badly, as in a game: "You got pwned") For instance: _|00 607 |*\\^/|\\|3|) ---in other words you got owned, and were the subject of major "ownage". The term "0\\/\\/nze|>" has similar meaning, refeering to the process of getting " owned ".
  • "smrt" for "smart"

Other examples

"WHeRE @Re J00 " for "where are you"
"wH4+'S uR nAME " for "what is your name"
"/\\/\\|<' 7+ |<77 |/\\||/| _|" -- an example of especially obfuscated leet, this translates to "Mike's leet skills own you".

Leet also draws elements from Engrish, such as "b4k4" (baka), a Japanese term for "fool". Lately, leet draws more and more from Japanese slang, due to the increasing fascination of leet-speakers with it.

Another common feature of leet is over-exclamation, where a sentence is postfixed with far too many exclamation marks!!!!!!!!!! In some cases, because the exclamation symbol (!) resides on the same key as the number 1, over-exclamation can be accidentally typed with extraneous digits, owing to the excitement of the typist: d00d th1s r0x0rz!!!!!11 Some users have adopted this and include it deliberately. A growing phenomenon is deliberately typing the word "one": pwnz0r3d!!!!!11oneoneone. Interestingly, letter-to-number translations do not often occur within these "oneoneone" blocks.

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

(subject to a great deal of individual variation):

A 4 or /\\ or @G 9 or 6M //. or ^^ or |v| or |\\/| or /\\/\\ or (u) S 5 or $Y Y or '/ or `/ or \\-/
B 6 or |3 or 8 or |>H # or |-| or ]~[N // or ^/ or |\\| or /\\/ T 7 or + or -|-Z 2
C [ or ¢ or (I 1 or ! or |O 0 or () U (_) or |_|
D |) or o|J ,| or _|P |* or |o or |" V \\/ or <
E 3 or &K |< or |{Q 9 or (,) W \\/\\/ or '// or \\^/ or (n)
F |=L 1 or | or |_R |2 X >< or }{

See also

External links

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