Can You Speak Leet?

By: Torrance Grey

Can You Speak Leet?
Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

There's spoken language, sign language, dead languages, programming languages ... and then there's leetspeak, which doesn't quite fall in any of these categories. It was born in the 1980s and really took off in the '90s, when Internet access became commonplace. Forerunners to leetspeak were the kind of letter-number substitutions people made on license plates or using calculators -- "8" representing the letter "B," for example, or "3" instead of "E." Later, chat rooms and text messaging made abbreviations commonplace, like "BRB" for "be right back." But leetspeak goes a bit further. A complex, fluid language, it uses alphanumeric language, hacker slang and sometimes deliberately incorrect grammar ("are" for "is") to create an argot that can be incomprehensible to the uninitiated. 

And that was the point: Although not the main purpose of leetspeak, at least initially, it became a language that separated the insiders from the outsiders. (Really, isn't that the point of all jargon?) Leetspeak is something you use at your peril; using it badly can mark you as a "noob" like nothing else. 

How familiar are you with this still-used online language? Are "pwnd," "lulz" and "B&" part of your vocabulary? For that matter, do you know how to spell "leet" in leet, or what it stands for? (If not, the rest of the quiz might get kind of tough; just sayin'). Test your leetspeak skillz here, and 600d 1uck!





If you're a newcomer to leet forums, you might be called a _____.
grommet
k00k
n00b
"N00b" or "n008" is one of the most easily recognized leetspeak words. It's short for "newbie." "Kook" and "grommet" are from the world of surfing, and "script kiddie" is a talentless hacker who piggybacks on others' work.
script kiddie

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"Leet" itself is a version of the word _____.
cheat
elite
"Leetspeak" was elite because only those in the know spoke it. Or, usually, wrote it.
let
relief

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How is "leet" written in leet?
1337
31337
1173
either #1 or #2 is acceptable
The more literal spelling is the second one, in which the 3 stands for the first E. But the more common spelling is 1337, which knocks off the first letter, leading to the birth of the term "leet."

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What was the main use of leetspeak in its early days?
to write code
to confuse newcomers
to get around board administrators and censorship
While leetspeak certainly would confuse newcomers, its primary role was to allow hackers to talk about restricted topics by using words that wouldn't get flagged, and thus get their posts deleted by bulletin board administrators. You still see this today when people misspell swearwords to avoid flagging.
to save time

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True or false: There is an agreed-on glossary of leetspeak, and misspelling leet terms is frowned on.
true
false
The point to leetspeak is to disguise words from outsiders while still being understood by the insiders. Anything that gets the job done is fair game.

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Which of these is NOT a common feature of leetspeak?
punctuation marks in place of letters
using plurals for singular words
using Elizabethan/Shakespearean words
This raises an interesting idea: What if all the English majors and other Luddites started using Elizabethan as their own elite-speak to freeze programmers and hackers out? After years of being called "Noob!" by 16-year-olds, wouldn't it be satisfying to say "goose-livered lackbeard!" back?
using incorrect, foreign-sounding grammar

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Which of these terms did NOT come out of leetspeak?
warez
newbie
POS
"POS" stands for "parent over shoulder" and came from preteens and teens of the 1990s, using their home computers (which back then was usually the only one in the house). Don't mock them, though: These kids were doing the same thing hackers were in leetspeak -- using a code that got messages past authority figures.
pwn

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What letter does // represent?
A
G
M or N
The two diagonals make up the vertical strokes of an M or N (though they're not, strictly speaking, vertical). You have to imagine the other diagonal slashes that would join them.
V

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What does "D00D" or "d00d" mean?
dude
This one's fairly easy to parse. Then again, "dude" isn't a word you'd usually have to hide from prying eyes.
crap/nonsense
father
software

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What letter is represented by VV ?
F
M
V
W
This one's fairly easy to see. And satisfying to those of us who think a "W" looks more like a "double-V" than a "double-U."

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Is "LOL" an example of leetspeak?
yes
no
Nope, saying "LOL" isn't very leet. Meaning "laughing out loud," it was quickly and almost universally adopted online.

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"H4X0R" is a term meaning ...
administrator
hacker
As the first and last letters indicate, it's "hacker." In general, an "-X0R" ending means someone who does something, like "-er" in plain English.
idiot
sex

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Which numeral often represents the letter G?
3
6
Both the numeral 6 and the numeral 5 are close to the shape of a G. But the 6 is a little closer.
5
9

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A simple "z" is often used to make words ____.
future tense
past tense
plural
The "z" replaces the more common "s." For example, "foods" becomes "foodz."
verbs

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What is/are "f00dz"?
gigs of memory
food
anything of value, a person's stuff
both #2 and #3
Literally, it's "food." But the idea of "your stuff" comes from the expression "I'm in your refrigerator, eating your foodz!" This brag meant that the superior hacker could touch anything of yours at any time. It's largely been replaced by "All your base are belong to us."

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If you've typed "W00t!" or "VV00t!" you are ______.
angry
celebrating
This is a simple rendering of the exclamation "Woot!" "Woo hoo!" might be rendered "VV00 /-/00!"
laughing
providing a warning

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The word "t3h" means ____.
tsk!
to
"the"
Confused? The bridge here is the word "teh" for "the," based on a frequent typo. While "teh" has been adopted by meme-makers, leetspeakers went a little further, making it "t3h."
"who"

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What letter replaces the "o" in "own" (when it is used to denote mastery)?
a
h
p
This creates the leet word "pwn." It can be adapted into various nouns and verbs ("pwnage" and "pwns").
x

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If someone is offering you "warez," what are they offering?
credit cards
passwords
software
"Warez" just lops off the first part of "software" and then makes the second part plural. However, it can be used as a singular.
anything with a financial value

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The term "bcoz" means ______.
business to consumer
be seeing you's
because
Yup, it's basically what it looks like. Also can be abbreviated as "BC."
baby

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What is "pr0n"?
food
ownership
pornography
Don't be confused by the similarity to "pwn" for "own" -- it's porn, only slightly altered. Helpful advice of the day: On the Deep Web, child pornography links are often marked with the simple letters "CP," so if you see this, don't click any further.
prowess

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In leetspeak, "f" is often replaced with ___.
1
7
ph
An early example of this was the word "phreaking" for "freaking." It was hacking the telephone system.
v

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What does "j00" stand for?
I
you
This can also be spelled as the more recognizable "joo." The j represents a somewhat slushy "y" sound, the way it sometimes sounds when spoken by non-English speakers.
nothing/null value
Jew

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What does "sploitz" refer to?
government informants
newcomers
exciting news
vulnerabilities in programs
"Sploitz" is short for "exploits." While in everyday English, exploits are often daring or skillful feats, in hacker terminology the term refers almost solely to vulnerabilities that can be "exploited."

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What does the term "//4d" mean?
dude
mad
This is easier to read when written "m4d." But it's always an adjective meaning "awesome," usually in "m4d sx1llz." (Note to beginners: Don't brag online about your "m4d sx1llz." It's going to mark you as a n00b).
node
regular

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If something "R0xx0rz," it ______.
fails
is confusing
rocks
While the "-x0r" suffix started out meaning a person who does a specific thing, nowadays "-x0rz" is a simple verb ending. Hence "r0xx0rz" for "rocks."
runs

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If you've been "B&", what has happened to you?
You've joined a band.
You've been banned from a site or forum.
This term simply substitutes an ampersand for the word "and." This substitution appears in other words as well.
You've been fooled.
You've been promoted.

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Which of these is a common way of writing "sucks"?
$uk%
$u$
suxx0rz
Again, the "-x0rz" ending makes a present tense verb. Occasionally you'll see "sux" in graffiti and very casual writing, but leetspeakers like their spellings a little more c0mplic8d.
sux

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Which of these is a term means "laughs"?
larfs
l4rfz
lulz
This term, loosely adapted from "lol," was made famous by "LulzSec" or Lulz Security, the hacker group. You've probably seen their mascot, a rich toff with a monocle.
!!!z

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"$p34x" would most likely mean what?
wrong
sucks
spank
speak
This word uses several substitutions; in fact, only the "p" is left from the original word. An easier spelling would be "sp34k." In general, the more substitutions, the more the writer is shielding himself/herself from being understood by outsiders.

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"VV0r1d 0f VV4rxr4ft" refers to a ______.
high-caffeine cola
university
role-playing game
It's "World of Warcraft," and it's not just any role-playing game. It's an MMORPG - a massively multiplayer online role-playing game.
software exploit

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If something is "1nt3r//4l," what is it?
eternal
internal
We're not sure how often "internal" comes up in hacker discussions, but this would be a leet way to write it. It's probably more useful that "3t3r//4l," which would be "eternal."
new
old

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What would a "//0u$e" be?
a game
a mistake
a mouse
This would be leetspeak for "mouse." However, if you're still using a computer mouse, you're not very leet. Sorry.
a complaint

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What does "D33p VV38" mean?
Deep Web
This is a way of spelling "Deep Web," which some people call the "Dark Web." That's a misnomer, though: the Deep Web is just everything that's not indexed by the World Wide Web, and the majority of it is used for legal and ethical purposes.
Dumb Idea
Deep (trouble)
Duck Duck Go

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What does "$3cr3t" mean?
egret
secret
"$3cr3t" is an important term, because secrecy has been a fundamental part of leetspeak from the beginning. We doubt egrets come up very often in leetspeak conversations.
sacred
racket

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