Pwn is a leetspeak slang term, derived from the word "own", that implies domination or humiliation of a rival, used primarily in the Internet gaming culture to taunt an opponent who has just been soundly defeated. Past tense is sometimes spelled pwnt (pronounced with a t sound), pwned, pwnd, pwn3d, or powned (with the standard d sound). Examples include "pwnage" or "You just got pwned!" More obscure phrases include "über-pwnage", "pwningful" or "pwnalated"

In hacker jargon, to "pwn" means "to compromise" or "to control," specifically another computer (server or PC), web site, gateway device, or application. It is synonymous with one of the definitions of hacking or cracking. An outside party who has "owned" or "pwned" a system has obtained unauthorized administrative control of the system.


The word "pwn" may have arisen and spread as a common typo of the word "own," since the 'p' and 'o' keys are adjacent on a standard English keyboard.


Because the word "pwn" has developed recently, and is primarily used in written form only, it has no single accepted pronunciation. The most common pronunciation is "pone"; other common pronunciations are "own", "pawn" and "poon" (compare cwm); "pwen" is also considered an acceptable pronunciation.

Electronic Gaming Monthly editor SeanBaby was also one of the first to commonly "verbalize" the word, speaking the word "owned" after an abrupt "puh-" sound, as if bluntly laughing before using the jargon. This frequent pronunciation was later replicated on an episode of South Park.

Usage: online and in popular culture

Some popular quotes involving "pwn" include:

  • The 2006 South Park episode, "Make Love, Not Warcraft", satirized the game World of Warcraft. In the episode, the word is pronounced [poʊn] (pone), rhyming with "own".
  • In Teen Girl Squad, "PØwned" appears on the screen and is pronounced by Strong Bad as "Puh-owned! Or however you say that!" Later the derivative "P4wned" appears, referring to a pawnshop and is pronounced "Puh-awned".
  • During the telecast of the 2006 World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions, Daniel Negreanu tells Mike Matusow that Mike Sexton pwned ([poʊnd]; pond) Matusow with an especially good play. The closed-captioning, however, misinterpreted Negreanu's remark as "boned".
  • The Internet TV show Pure Pwnage claims that the word is pronounced "own", as it was a spelling mistake in the first place.
  • In an XKCD cartoon
  • The word is pronounced [poʊn] (pone) in the online video called
  • In the movie Employee of the Month, the character played by Dane Cook uses pwned (poned) during a competitive scene.
  • The vodcast Bikini News, in their episode Guide To Getting Your Crappy Video Seen Online!!!, states that by following their advice, "You'll pwn all of us!".
  • One of the 2007 Hannah Montana episodes has the word pronounced [poʊn] (pone), rhyming with "own".
  • The term was one of 16 to appear on the 2007 "List of Words and Phrases Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness", released annually by Lake Superior State University.
  • The RiffTrax audio track for the film Batman and Robin uses the term in a series of riffs, where Mike Nelson claims that it is pronounced "owned".
  • The Crash Bandicoot character Doctor N. Gin yells the following phrase to his minions over the intercom of his explosives factory in the 2007 video game Crash of the Titans: "C'mon, mutant scum! Pwn his puny behind, or whatever the kids are saying these days!"

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