Can You Speak Leet?


By: Torrance Grey

6 Min Quiz

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 _____.

"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.


"Leet" itself is a version of the word _____.

"Leetspeak" was elite because only those in the know spoke it. Or, usually, wrote it.


How is "leet" written in leet?

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."


What was the main use of leetspeak in its early days?

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.


True or false: There is an agreed-on glossary of leetspeak, and misspelling leet terms is frowned on.

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.


Which of these is NOT a common feature of leetspeak?

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?


Which of these terms did NOT come out of leetspeak?

"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.


What letter does // represent?

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.


What does "D00D" or "d00d" mean?

This one's fairly easy to parse. Then again, "dude" isn't a word you'd usually have to hide from prying eyes.


What letter is represented by VV ?

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."


Is "LOL" an example of leetspeak?

Nope, saying "LOL" isn't very leet. Meaning "laughing out loud," it was quickly and almost universally adopted online.


"H4X0R" is a term meaning ...

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.


Which numeral often represents the letter G?

Both the numeral 6 and the numeral 5 are close to the shape of a G. But the 6 is a little closer.


A simple "z" is often used to make words ____.

The "z" replaces the more common "s." For example, "foods" becomes "foodz."


What is/are "f00dz"?

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."


If you've typed "W00t!" or "VV00t!" you are ______.

This is a simple rendering of the exclamation "Woot!" "Woo hoo!" might be rendered "VV00 /-/00!"


The word "t3h" means ____.

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."


What letter replaces the "o" in "own" (when it is used to denote mastery)?

This creates the leet word "pwn." It can be adapted into various nouns and verbs ("pwnage" and "pwns").


If someone is offering you "warez," what are they offering?

"Warez" just lops off the first part of "software" and then makes the second part plural. However, it can be used as a singular.


The term "bcoz" means ______.

Yup, it's basically what it looks like. Also can be abbreviated as "BC."


What is "pr0n"?

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.


In leetspeak, "f" is often replaced with ___.

An early example of this was the word "phreaking" for "freaking." It was hacking the telephone system.


What does "j00" stand for?

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.


What does "sploitz" refer to?

"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."


What does the term "//4d" mean?

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).


If something "R0xx0rz," it ______.

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."


If you've been "B&", what has happened to you?

This term simply substitutes an ampersand for the word "and." This substitution appears in other words as well.


Which of these is a common way of writing "sucks"?

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.


Which of these is a term means "laughs"?

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.


"$p34x" would most likely mean what?

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.


"VV0r1d 0f VV4rxr4ft" refers to a ______.

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.


If something is "1nt3r//4l," what is it?

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."


What would a "//0u$e" be?

This would be leetspeak for "mouse." However, if you're still using a computer mouse, you're not very leet. Sorry.


What does "D33p VV38" mean?

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.


What does "$3cr3t" mean?

"$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.


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