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Leet or Eleet (sometimes rendered l33t, 1337, or 31337), also known as Leetspeak, is an alphabet used primarily on the Internet, which uses various combinations of ASCII characters to replace Latinate letters. The term is derived from the word "elite", and the usage it describes is a specialized form of symbolic writing. Different dialects of leet are found on different online fora.

Example sentence: L337 15 n07 4 c0mm0n 1n73rn37 5p34k 4m0n9 r34l h4ck3r5

English rendering: Leet is not a common internet speak among real hackers.

Initially, the word leet was used as an adjective, to primarily describe the behavior or accomplishments of others in the community. In that usage Leet generally carries the same meaning when referring to either the game prowess or, in original usage, hacking expertise of another person. From adjective form its use then expanded to include use as an expletive or interjection in reaction to a demonstration of the former qualities. With the mass proliferation of Internet use in the 1990s into the 21st century, Leet has since become a part of Internet culture and slang. Leet may also be considered a substitution cipher, albeit with much variation from user to user.


Leet originated within bulletin board systems in the 1980s, where having "elite" status on a BBS allowed a user access to file folders, games, and special chat rooms. One theory is that it was developed to defeat text filters created by BBS or Internet Relay Chat system operators for message boards to discourage the discussion of forbidden topics, like cracking and hacking. However, creative misspellings and ASCII-art-derived words were also a way to attempt to indicate one was knowledgeable about the culture of computer users. Once reserved to use by hackers, crackers, and script kiddies, Leet has since entered the mainstream. It is now also used to mock newbies, or newcomers, on web sites, or in gaming communities. Some consider emoticons and ASCII art, like smiley faces, to be Leet, while others maintain that Leet consists of only symbolic word encryption. More obscure forms of Leet, involving the use of symbol combinations and almost no letters or numbers, continue to be used for its original purpose of encrypted communication. It is also sometimes used as a script language.


One of the halmarks of Leet is its unique approach to orthography, using substitutions of other characters, letters or otherwise, to represent a letter or letters in a word. For more casual use of leet, the primary strategy is to use homoglyphs, symbols that closely resemble (to varying degrees) the letters for which they stand. The symbol chosen is flexible—anything that the reader can make sense of is valid. However, this practice is not extensively used in regular Leet; more often it is seen in situations where the argot (i.e., "secret language") characteristics of the system are required, either to exclude newbies or outsiders in general. Another use for Leet orthographic substitutions is the creation of paraphrased passwords. By using this method, one can create a relatively secure password which would still be easily remembered. Limitations imposed by websites on password length (usually no more than 36) and the characters permitted (usually alphanumeric and underscore) requires less-extensive forms of Leet when used in this application.

Some examples of Leet include: B1FF and n00b, a term for the stereotypical newbie; the L33t programming language; and the webcomic Megatokyo, which contains characters who speak Leet.

A B * C D * E F G * H I * J K L * M N O * P Q R * S T * U V W X Y Z *



// []








  • 0 can be used for O
  • 1 can be used for I (or L)
  • 2 can be used for Z (or R and Ä)
  • 3 can be used for E
  • 4 can be used for A
  • 5 can be used for S
  • 6 can be used for G (or B)
  • 7 can be used for T (or L)
  • 8 can be used for B
  • 9 can be used for P (or G and Q)

Please note this table is to be used as a guide and not a full translation tool. Leet is ever-changing and not all replacements will, or can, be included.

Upside-down text

(If viewing on Windows, it is sometimes possible to press AltGr + down to turn the display upside down to make the samples easier to read, AltGr + up to revert back to normal Also pushing Ctrl+Alt+Down)

A special variety of leet can be used to render words upside down in languages such as HTML that do not permit rotation of text; using Unicode characters (especially those in the International Phonetic Alphabet), a very close approximation of upside-down text (also called flip text) can be achieved. The letters s, x, z and o are rotationally symmetrical, while pairs such as b/q, d/p and n/u are rotations of each other. The rest of the letters have been encoded into the Unicode IPA section, creating a full set of upside-down lowercase letters. Coverage of upside-down uppercase letters is far more sparse, and there is no support for upside down numbers (except 0, 8, and 6/9), but punctuation (by use of such characters as the interpunct and the inverted question mark and exclamation point) is mostly covered. Several Internet utilities exist for the transformation of regular text to (and sometimes from) upside-down text; each has its own slightly different algorithm for letters not precisely or well covered. A list of converters and algorithms can be found at the list below.

This system has several purposes. It can be used for artistic purposes (for instance, writing team names in opposing end zones in a simulation of an American football gridiron-- e.g. "sʇuɐɪŋ ʞɹoʎ ʍəN ƕ", from this example which also uses hwair as a simulation of the "NY" logo and eng as capital G). It can also be used, as in print, to obscure an answer to a riddle, joke or puzzle; for instance:

Question: How can you tell an introvert from an extrovert at the NSA?
Answer: ˙sǝoɥs s,ʎnƃ ɹǝɥʇo ǝɥʇ ʇɐ sʞool ʇɹǝʌoɹʇxǝ ǝɥʇ 'sɹoʇɐʌǝlǝ ǝɥʇ uı (Using the Revfad algorithm)
Or: 'saoys s.hn6 R3HTO ayt te skool tJa^oJtxa ayt `sJote^ala ayt uI (using the Albartus USD algorithm)

A similar process is USD encoding, which uses characters entirely within the ASCII character set. Because it is almost entirely alphanumeric, it is far more compatible with other programs that do not support Unicode, and more readily typed by hand. However, the text created by using USD encoding is far less legible, and in fact more closely resembles true Leet. Another problem is that because not all letters fit well, the USD algorithms cannot be a complete involution (i.e., completely convertible back and forth) and contain a complete set of letters at the same time. For instance, the Albartus USD algorithm example seen above has k, T, t, and R still in their upright positions. Another issue with USD encoding is the use of italic type. The letter "a" will, in most typefaces using italic fonts, render it as a "one-story" Latin alpha, thus causing problems with any word using that letter as a lowercase "e." Oblique type does not have this problem.


The -xor suffix The meaning of this suffix is synonymous of the English -er and -r suffixes (seen in hacker and lesser), in that it derives agent nouns from a verb stem. It is realized in two different forms: -xor and -zor, and /-zɔr/, respectively. For example, the first may be seen in the word hax(x)or (/ˈhæksɔr/) and the second in pwnzor (/ˈoʊnzɔr/). Additionally, this nominalization may also be inflected with all of the suffixes of regular English verbs. The -age suffix Derivation of a noun from a verb stem is possible by attaching -age to the base form of any verb. Attested derivations are pwnage and speakage. However, Leet provides exceptions; the word leetage is acceptable, referring to actively being leet. These nouns are often used with a form of "to be" rather than "to have," e.g., "he is pwnage" rather than "he has pwnage". Either is a more emphatic way of expressing the simpler "he pwns," but the former implies that the person is embodying the trait rather than merely possessing it.The -ness suffix Derivation of a noun from an adjective stem is done by attaching -ness to any adjective. This is entirely the same as the English form, except it is used much more often in Leet. Nouns such as lulzness and leetness are derivations using this suffix.Words ending in -ed When forming a past participle ending in -ed, the Leet user may replace the -e with an apostrophe, as was common in poetry of previous centuries, (e.g. "pwned" becomes "pwn'd"). Note that the conventions of Leet allow for some misplaced punctuation, since it is assumed that the user is typing very quickly; therefore the apostrophe may shift its position without changing the word's meaning. The word ending may also be substituted by -t (e.g. pwned becomes pwnt).Use of the -& suffix Words ending in -and, -anned, -ant, or a similar sound can sometimes be spelled with an ampersand (&) to express the ending sound (e.g. "This is the s&box," "I'm sorry, you've been b&", "&hill/&farm"). This is most commonly used with the word banned. An alternate form of "B&" is "B7", as the ampersand is typed with the "7" key in the standard US keyboard layout. It is often seen in the phrase "IBB7" (in before banned).Use of the "-zorz" suffix Words that are generated on the internet (such as pwn) can be made into a plural by putting "zorz" on the end (generating the word pwnzorz in this example). The -zorz suffix can also be used to strengthen the meaning of the word (pwn means to be defeated or to be made a fool of; pwnzorz means to be really beaten or be made a fool of in a large way)


leet can be pronounced as a single syllable, /ˈliːt/, rhyming with eat, by way of aphesis of the initial vowel of "elite". It may also be pronounced as two syllables, /ɛˈliːt/. Like other hacker slang, Leet enjoys a looser grammar than standard English. The loose grammar, just like loose spelling, encodes some level of emphasis, ironic or otherwise. A reader must rely more on intuitive parsing of Leet to determine the meaning of a sentence rather than the actual sentence structure. In particular, speakers of Leet are fond of verbing nouns, turning verbs into nouns (and back again) as forms of emphasis, e.g. "Austin rocks" is weaker than "Austin roxxorz" (note spelling), which is weaker than "Au5t1N is t3h r0xx0rz" (note grammar), which is weaker than something like "0MFG D00D /Ü571N 15 T3H l_l83Я 1337 Я0XX0ЯZ". In essence, all of these mean "Austin rocks," not necessarily the other options. Added words and misspellings add to the speaker's enjoyment. Leet, like in other hacker slang, employs analogy in construction of new words. For example, if haxored is the past tense of the verb "to hack" (hack → haxor → haxored), then winzored would be easily understood to be the past tense conjugation of "to win," even if the reader had not seen that particular word before.

Leet has its own colloquialisms, many of which originated as jokes based on common typing errors, habits of new computer users, or knowledge of Internet culture and history. Leet is not solely based upon one language or character set. Greek, Russian, Chinese, and other languages have Leet forms, and Leet in one language may use characters from another where they are available. As such, while it may be referred to as a "cipher", a "dialect", or a "language", Leet does not fit squarely into any of these categories. The term leet itself is often written 31337, or 1337, and many other variations. After the meaning of these became widely familiar, 10100111001 came to be used in its place, because it is the binary form of 1337, making it more of a puzzle to interpret. An increasingly common characteristic of Leet is changing its grammatical usage to be deliberately incorrect. The widespread popularity of deliberate misspelling is similar to the cult following of the "All your base are belong to us" phrase. Indeed, the online and computer communities have been international from their inception, so spellings and phrases typical of non-native speakers are quite common.

Rhyming and rhythm

Care is taken by users of Leet to combine similarly timed words, or to encipher words into ways such that they have a common rhythm or rhyme. An example of this is the phrase "roffle my woffles" (note both spelling error (woffle) and word timing) ("roffle" is derived from the phonetic pronunciation of the acronym ROFL). Other examples would be "roxorz your boxorz" (in this case, rhyming). It is also used even if something only slightly rhymes, such as "roflcopters" or "lolcakes", both of which are used as offshoots of rofl or lol respectively.

Leet as seen by others

In some sites on the internet, such as gaming websites, leet is seen as "newbish", "noobish", or "n00b1zh" and people who speak it are often ignored or called names. Only small amounts of leet are used, mostly just to shorten words such as really to rly. Lol is used frequently, not as much for saying you are actually laughing, but more for saying something is funny. Ingame, if someone is asking for free items or cash and is constantly spamming for example, "phr33 5t0ph pl0x!" (Free stuff please), then that person is instantly classified as a beggar or a noob and other players will not have anything to do with them.

Over-exclamation and other emphasis

Another common feature of Leet is over-exclamation, where a sentence is postfixed with many exclamation marks. In some cases, because the exclamation symbol (!) resides on the same key as the number one (1) on QWERTY keyboards, over-exclamation can be accidentally (or purposefully) typed with extraneous numerical digits, owing to the excitement of the typist (e.g. "This is really exciting!!11"). This was especially likely in the context of fast-paced online multiplayer games, where typing carefully leaves the gamer vulnerable to attack. Some deliberately type the numbers, while others take the exclamation further and sarcastically replace some of the digits with various written forms (e.g. "STFU!!11one"), or in cases of extreme sarcasm, another number or prerequisite key (e.g. "OMG!!!!11!!11oneonesix", or "PMG!!!!111!11shiftone1!11shift1!!1111capslock1!oneoneone1one33212322eightytwo"). The same applies for interrogative punctuation (e.g. "What are you talking about??//"). Other similar uses include the § (section), ~ (tilde) and @ keys, which are adjacent to the (1) key on various QWERTY keyboards; in extreme cases the exclamations may simply end with a string of garbage characters (e.g. "OMG!!!!!1!1!!!{`+{`+{`$#+%{&#"). The Leetspeaker will often purposely misspell words to make it look as though they have misspelled words as a result of quick typing. Example:

English: Really? That's great! Leet: O RLY???!! TAHT IZ T0T411Y GR8!!!!!!11one!!!

In addition to variations on punctuation-based emphasis, it is common to combine two (or more) words and capitalize them to show emphasis. Perhaps most common would be the combination of OMG and WTF to produce OMGWTF, or "ROFLMAO", a combination of "ROFL" and "LMAO". The addition of a seemingly irrelevant acronym, BBQ, to produce OMGWTFBBQ is a common step taken to heighten the sarcastic mood. As with most alternative Leet spellings or grammar, inclusion of these traits in a sentence is often done on purpose. The intent is typically to either lighten the mood, strengthen a point (by mocking someone who may not be privy to the discussion), or convey a sense of irony, depending on the context.


Many words originally derived from Leet slang have now become part of the modern Internet slang, such as "pwned". The primary driving force of new vocabulary in Leet is the need to describe new phenomena. Another force is common misspelling and mistyping such as "teh", and intentional misspellings, especially the "z" at the end of words ("skillz"). Another prominent example of a surviving Leet expression is W00t, an exclamation of joy.

New words (or corruptions thereof) may arise from a need to make one's username unique. As any given Internet service reaches more people, the number of names available to a given user is drastically reduced. While many users may wish to have the username "CatLover," for example, in many cases it is only possible for one user to have the moniker. As such, degradations of the name may evolve, such as "C@L0vr." As the Leet cipher is highly dynamic, there is a wider possibility for multiple users to share the "same" name, through combinations of spelling and transliterations.

Additionally, leet—the word itself—can be found in the screennames and gamertags of many Internet and video games. Use of the term in such a manner announces a high level of skill, though such an announcement may be seen as baseless hubris.

Terminology and common misspellings

Warez (nominally ) is a plural shortening of "software", typically referring to pirated software. Phreaking refers to the hacking of telephone systems and other non-Internet equipment. Teh originated as a typographical error of "the", and is sometimes spelled t3h. Joo takes the place of "you", originating from the affricate sound that occurs in place of the palatal approximant, /j/, when you follows a word ending in an alveolar plosive consonant, such as /d/ or /z/. Also, from German, is Über, which represents a quality of superiority; it usually appears as a prefix attached to adjectives, and is frequently written without the umlaut over the u. "Moar" (often capitalized as "MOAR") takes the place of "more". This use came from a misspelling that evolved into a meme on the website 4chan.

Haxor and suxxor, or suxorz

Haxor, and derivations thereof, is Leet for "hacker", and it is one of the most commonplace examples of the use of the -xor suffix. Suxxor (pronounced suck-zor) is a derogatory term which originated in warez culture and is currently used in multi-user environments such as multiplayer video games and instant messaging; it, like haxor, is one of the early Leet words to use the -xor suffix. Suxxor is a modified version of "sucks" (the phrase “to suck”), and the meaning is the same as the English slang. Its negative definition essentially makes it the opposite of roxxor, and both can be used as a verb or a noun.


In hangul, the Korean alphabet, people express a laughter sound with repetitions of the character "ㅋ", similar to the "k" sound in English (this occurs only in the Internet; it is improper to use only "ㅋ" to express a laughter in writings or formal situations). Since early versions of WarCraft did not support hangul, Korean players would use a romanized spelling—hence, mekeke was born. The phrase is a phrase similar to the English and French "hahaha", Thai "555" (pronounced "hahaha"), Spanish "jajaja", Chinese "hahaha" (哈哈哈), Japanese "fufufu"/"kukuku" (ふふふ), or German "hihihi". It is often used in-game as an expression of exaltation or as a form of mockery. Commonly, it is associated with the Warcraft tactic of a Peon Rush, named after the WarCraft faction for whom the tactic was created. The phrase "Peon Rush Mekeke!" is sometimes used outside of the game to indicate any form of overwhelming or swarming force. Mekeke is also used as an evil laugh and is used by players using devious tactics and/or playing evil characters. While this usage is sometimes thought to have its roots in the laugh of Kefka, the main villain from Final Fantasy VI, kekeke is commonly associated with laughs of devious characters in manga, anime, and video games, and has made its way through various translations.

The phrase also occurs on the MMORPG World of Warcraft. There are two major factions in the game which 'speak' different languages. All chat text entered by a member of one faction will appear jumbled to a member of the other, and vice versa. As a result, members of the Alliance faction would see "kek" when a member of the Horde faction had typed "lol", while conversely a member of the Horde faction would see "bur" when a member of the Alliance faction had typed "lol". The cipher works a little differently for longer words though, and "hahaha" becomes "mekeke". Such terms have become widely understood amongst World of Warcraft players. This is also a good example of what is known as an easter egg in the game World of Warcraft. The game writers at Blizzard used hundreds of famous phrases and names in populating the game world, and KEK (Orcish for LOL) was intentional.


Among the earliest Internet slang terms is LOL, an indication of appreciation of humor, literally meaning “Laughing Out Loud” or “Lots Of Laughs”. Similar acronyms were quickly added to the lexicon, including ROFL (“Rolling On the Floor Laughing”), LMAO (“Laughing My Ass Off”), and the combination of the two; ROFLMAO ("Rolling On the Floor Laughing My Ass Off"). A less common variation on ROFL is FOFL, meaning Fall On Floor Laughing. ROFL is sometimes spelled as "roffle", as in the parody of Waffle House, Roffle House. Derivations of the acronym quickly became incorporated into the Leet vocabulary. ROFL can also be combined with LOL, yielding ROFLOL (Rolling On the Floor Laughing Out Loud). The words "lool" and "lawl" are now starting to be used. "Lool" (sometimes "loool" or even more o's) shows a longer laugh than simply "lol" on its own. "Lawl" is the spelling of the American English pronunciation of lol as a word.

More recently, "lol" has been popularized as a noun, most frequently seen pluralized as "lolz" or deliberately misspelled "lulz", as in "I did it for the lulz" and "epic lulz."

Noob or boon

Within Leet, the term noob, and derivations thereof, is used extensively. The word means, and derives from, newbie (as in new and inexperienced or uninformed), and is used as a means of segregating the "elite" members of a group from outsiders. Boon is noob spelled backwards. Though they are often used interchangeably, there is a widely accepted separation of the definitions of newb and n00b: a newb is merely new to something (usually the person also wants to learn more), which is forgivable, while a n00b continues to engage in "newb" behaviors long after they should know better (and usually refuses to learn). It implies that the target is being ignorant of his or her own failures, blames others without reason, has failed to learn, etc. The word noob is a very common insult in most online games.

In primitive Leet, as used on BBS systems in the 1980s and into the very early 1990s, the usual term was Christmas Kiddie. Christmas Kiddie referred to the phenomenon where BBS systems were flooded with new members immediately following Christmas because modems were a common holiday gift. If the kiddie was young, the term ruggie (derived from rugrat meaning child) might be used; another variant was greenie or Christmas greenie which was derived from the cowboy slang greenhorn. As the Internet evolved and modems saw a decline, the term Christmas Kiddie was shortened to just Kiddie with the meaning morphing slightly to indicate someone who did not know a lot about what they were doing online, and were just running scripts provided by other, more experienced users. This typically, but not necessarily, referred to children or noobs who had recently discovered the online world and were experimenting with various hacking scripts available. The two terms Kiddie and noob can also be combined by adding the suffix "-let" (meaning small or young) to noob, rendering nooblet or ||008137 (both young and inexperienced), which can be used not only online, but also in reference to someone who knows little about the world in general (i.e. younger children).

Owned and pwned

Owned and pwn3d both refer to the domination of a player in a video game or argument (rather than just a win), or the successful hacking of a website or computer. For example, in a multiplayer first-person shooter game, a player with a default starting gun defeats an opponent carrying a vastly superior weapon. This would indicate dominant skill in the player with the inferior weapon, who outplayed (owned or pwned) the player with superior firepower. As in a common characteristic of Leet, the terms have also been adapted into noun and adjective forms, ownage and pwnage, which can refer to the situation of pwning or to the superiority of its subject (e.g., "He is a very good player. He is pwnage."). Some people pronounce pwn as p'own or poon. Since the letter p on a QWERTY keyboard is right next to the letter o, it likely derives from a typographical error of owned, and was eventually embraced by Leetspeakers as an intentional misspelling; however, pwn is also sometimes said to mean "player own" (pwnage could be "player ownage"). Pwned is commonly referred to as "power owned", using the previous example that if the player with the inferior weapon killed the other player without getting hit, he would have "pwned" the player. This act is often followed up by "teabagging"/corpse humping (the rapid squatting and standing over a dead player) or continued fire into their corpse after reloading. It is also believed by some that Pwn originated from a Warcraft map that read "player had been pwned" when the opponent was defeated.

Pwn, or Pwn3d, is also commonly used when person attempts to make a joke (more particularly something bad about a person) but the joke fails and nobody laughs, therefore the person attempting to make a joke is pwned.

New derivations have surfaced in the form of "pwnt" and "ownt", and these words are usually accompanied by the word "noob."


Pr0n is Leet slang for pornography. This is a deliberately inaccurate spelling/pronunciation for porn, where a zero is often used to replace the letter O. It is sometimes used in legitimate communications (such as email discussion groups, Usenet, chat rooms, and internet web pages) to circumvent language and content filters, which may reject messages as offensive or spam. The word also helps prevent search engines from associating commercial sites with pornography—which might result in unwelcome traffic. Pr0n is also sometimes spelled backwards (n0rp) to further obscure the meaning to potential uninformed readers. It can also refer to ASCII art depicting pornographic images, or to photos of the internals of consumer and industrial hardware. Prawn, a spoof of the misspelling, has started to come into use, as well; in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, a pornographer films his movies on 'Prawn Island'. Conversely, in the RPG Kingdom of Loathing, prawn, referring to a kind of crustacean, is spelled pr0n, leading to the creation of food items such as “pr0n chow mein”. The television show, Attack of the Show!, has a segment called Gadget Pr0n, in which they review gadgets.

See also



The creation of "LOL" as written by Wayne Pearson

External links

Regular Leet

Upside-down text

  • Revfad's "Flip" - Supports all lowercase letters, but not numbers. Reconverts upside-down text back upside right.
  • Rot180 - Uses combining characters and approximations of capital letters and numbers, often using very rarely supported Unicode characters.
  • - Uses an Arabic character for j, but otherwise similar to Revfad. Does not reconvert backward.
  • - Supports lowercase letters and numbers, again using obscure and sparsely supported (non-Latin) Unicode characters for the latter (although a different set of number characters than the one Rot180 uses). Reconverts upside-down text back upside-right and is compatible with Revfad's algorithm.
  • USD encoding - A completely ASCII-compatible but incomplete encoding system created by Jan Albartus. Supports most letters, although leaving some upright. Some problems occur when rendering the return character.
  • - Supports most letters, upside down question mark and upside down exclamation point but no numbers. Does reconvert backward, similar to Revfad.
  • NQAS - Uses characters entirely within Windows-1252 and supports a full range of capital and lowercase letters as well as numbers. Not a complete involution, but offers forward and backward conversion tools. Requires Java.

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