Learn l33t speak, the Microsoft Way:
A parent's primer to computer slang
Understand how your kids communicate online to help protect them
Published: February 4, 2005
• Teen online lingo
• Online gaming lingo
• Netiquette 101
While it's important to respect your children's privacy, understanding what your teenager's online slang means and how to decipher it is important as you help guide their online experience. While it has many nicknames, information-age slang is commonly referred to as leetspeek, or leet for short. Leet (a vernacular form of "elite") is a specific type of computer slang where a user replaces regular letters with other keyboard characters to form words phonetically—creating the digital equivalent of pig Latin with a twist of hieroglyphics.
Leet words can be expressed in hundreds of ways using different substitutions and combinations, but once one understands that nearly all characters are formed as phonemes and symbols, leetspeek isn't difficult to translate.
Key points for learning leetspeek
• Numbers are often used as letters. The term "leet" could be written as "1337," with "1" replacing the letter L, "3" posing as a backwards letter E, and "7" resembling the letter T. "0" (zero) will typically replace the letter "O."
• Characters of similar appearance can be used to replace the letters they resemble. For example, "5" or even "$" can replace the letter S. Applying this style, the word "leetspeek" can be written as "133t5p33k" or even "!337$p34k," with "4" replacing the letter A.
• Letters can be substituted for other letters that may sound alike. Using "Z" for a final letter S, and "X" for words ending in the letters C or K is common. For example, leetspeekers might refer to their computer "5x1llz" (skills).
• Rules of grammar are rarely obeyed. Many leetspeekers will capitalize every letter except for vowels (LiKe THiS) and otherwise reject conventional English style and grammar.
• Mistakes are often uncorrected. Common typing misspellings (or typos) such as "teh" instead of "the" are left uncorrected and may be adopted to replace the correct spelling.
• Non-alphanumeric characters may be combined to form letters. For example, using slashes to create "/\/\" can substitute for the letter M, and two pipes combined with a hyphen to form "|-|" is often used in place of the letter H. Thus, the word "ham" could be written as "|-|4/\/\."
It's important to remember that the leetspeek community encourages new forms and awards individual creativity, resulting in a dynamic written language that eludes conformity or consistency. However, there are a few standard terms. The following is a sample of key words that haven't changed fundamentally (although variations occur) since the invention of leetspeek. The first series is of particular concern, as their use could be an indicator that your teenager is involved in the theft of intellectual property, particularly licensed software.
Leet words possibly indicating illegal activity:
• "warez" or "w4r3z": Illegally copied software available for download.
• "h4x": Read as "hacks," or what a computer hacker does.
• "sploitz" (short for exploits): Vulnerabilities in computer software used by hackers.
• "pwn": A typo-deliberate version of own, a slang term that means to dominate. This could also be spelled "0\/\/n3d" or "pwn3d," among other variations. Online video game bullies or "griefers" often use this term.
Other common leet words:
• "kewl": A common derivation of "cool."
• "m4d sk1llz" or "mad skills": Refers to one's own talent. "m4d" itself is often used for emphasis.
• "n00b," "noob," "newbie," or "newb": Combinations synonymous with new user. Some leetspeekers view "n00b" as an insult and "newbie" as an affectionate term for new users.
• "w00t" or the smiley character \o/: A common interjection, analogous to "woohoo!"
• "rox0rs" Used in place of "rocks," typically to describe something impressive.
• "d00d": Replaces the greeting or addressing someone as a "dude."
• "joo" and "u": Used instead of "you." This is also commonly written as "j00" or "_|00."
• "ph": often replaces "f," as in "phear" for "fear" (as in "ph34r my l33t skillz") and vice versa, such as spelling "phonetic" as "f0|\|371(."