Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Page 130: What is L33T, 1337, or LEET?

On the Internet, the cool kids spell words replacing letters with similar-looking numbers. For example, the letter “o” could be replaced with the number 0, giving us “n00b” for a newbie, or “pr0n” for pornography. Similar substitutions can be made with 4 for A, 1 for lowercase L, 3 for E, etc. This practice is called leet, and variously spelled eleet, 1337, L33T. Leet isn’t just about substituting numbers for letters; there are other peculiarities that are unique to computer culture. One example is using the suffix –age to turn a verb into a noun, as in “major suckage.”

We’ve previously seen a couple of examples of leetspeak in The Billionth Monkey: 1) the ID-10-T code back on page 17, and 2) the term “pwn” in Destiny Jones’ Tweezer post on page 118.

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