w00t! It’s word of the year.

Still on the road and still enjoying being out and about. We woke up this morning looking forward to riding the Great Ocean Road only to find that it’s pissing with rain. We’re hoping it eases off a bit before we have to leave.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share this with you from The ABC News website.

“w00t,” an expression of joy coined by online gamers, was crowned word of the year on Tuesday by the publisher of a leading US dictionary.

Massachusetts-based Merriam-Webster said “w00t”, typically spelled with two zeros, reflects a new direction in the American language led by a generation raised on video games and cell phone text-messaging.

It is like saying “yay,” the dictionary said.

“It could be after a triumph or for no reason at all,” Merriam-Webster said.

Visitors to Merriam-Webster’s website were invited to vote for one of 20 words and phrases culled from the most frequently looked-up words on the site and submitted by readers.

Runner-up was “facebook” as a new verb meaning to add someone to a list of friends on the website Facebook.com or to search for people on the social networking site.

Merriam-Webster president John Morse said “w00t” reflected the growing use of numeric keyboards to type words.

“People look for self-evident numeral-letter substitutions: 0 for O; 3 for E; 7 for T; and 4 for A,” he said. “This is simply a different and more efficient way of representing the alphabetical character.”

One website, www.thinkgeek.com, already sells t-shirts with the word “w00t” printed on the front.

“w00t belongs to gamers the world over. It seems to have been derived from the obsolete ‘whoot’ which essentially is another way to say ‘hoot’ which itself is a shout or derisive laugh,” Think Geek said on its website.

“But others maintain that w00t is the sound several players make while jumping like bunnies in Quake III,” it added, referring to a popular video game.

l33t speak
Online gamers often replace numbers and symbols with letters to form what Merriam-Webster calls an “esoteric computer hacker language” known as “l33t speak.” This translates into “leet”, which is short for “elite”.

A separate survey of words used in the media and on the internet by California-based Global Language Monitor produced a different set of winners on Tuesday. “Hybrid” took top honours as word of the year with “climate change” the top phrase.

Global Language Monitor, which uses an algorithm to track words and phrases in the media and on the internet, said “hybrid” had broad connotations of “all things green from biodiesel to wearing clothes made of soy to global warming”.

Runner-up was “surge,” based on the “surge” of 30,000 extra US troops deployed to Iraq since mid-June, followed by the word “Bluetooth,” a technology used to connect electronic devices via radio waves.

“The English language is becoming more and more a globalised language every year,” said Global Language Monitor president Paul Payack, noting that this year’s list included words also culled from India, Singapore, China and Australia.

w00t!

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One thought on “w00t! It’s word of the year.

  1. As fully fledged gamer geek in my prime who was hooked on Counter-Strike at the time when the expression ‘w00t’ was coined, I feel qualified to make a few corrections to ABC News’s article (since I fail to see how a bunch of reporters could be).

    As I remember it, w000t was actually first used to replace ‘Whaaaat?!’, used when someone was killed in a way that was disputable (or embarrassing, usually). In hope of not being viewed as a whinger, people started to say ‘w00t’ instead, in an attempt to make light of the grief by cutesifying (how’s that for a word) the word.

    As the word became more commonplace, new generations of gamers took the expression generically, take advantage of its similarity to ‘w00!’ to make it an expression of joy.

    And as far as 1337sp34k goes, all that crap about using numeric keypads is a stretch. I’ve heard stories about how hackers in the 80s used to speak like that online in order disguise what they say. Bullocks. People started using numbers instead of letters to look cool. End of story.

    Geeks are funny beasts.

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