"w00t" crowned word of year by U.S. dictionary

BOSTON (Reuters) - “w00t,” an expression of joy coined by online gamers, was crowned word of the year on Tuesday by the publisher of a leading U.S. dictionary.

Massachusetts-based Merriam-Webster Inc. said “w00t” – typically spelled with two zeros – reflects a new direction in the American language led by a generation raised on video games and cell phone text-messaging.

It’s like saying “yay,” the dictionary said.

“It could be after a triumph or for no reason at all,” Merriam-Webster said.

Visitors to Merriam-Webster’s Web site were invited to vote for one of 20 words and phrases culled from the most frequently looked-up words on the site and submitted by readers.

Runner-up was “facebook” as a new verb meaning to add someone to a list of friends on the Web site Facebook.com or to search for people on the social networking site.

Merriam-Webster President John Morse said “w00t” reflected the growing use of numeric keyboards to type words.

“People look for self-evident numeral-letter substitutions: 0 for O; 3 for E; 7 for T; and 4 for A,” he said. “This is simply a different and more efficient way of representing the alphabetical character.”

One Web site, www.thinkgeek.com, already sells T-shirts with the word “w00t” printed on the front.

“w00t belongs to gamers the world over. It seems to have been derived from the obsolete ‘whoot’ which essentially is another way to say ‘hoot’ which itself is a shout or derisive laugh,” Think Geek said on its Web site.

“But others maintain that w00t is the sound several players make while jumping like bunnies in Quake III,” it added, referring to a popular video game.

Online gamers often replace numbers and symbols with letters to form what Merriam-Webster calls an “esoteric computer hacker language” known as “l33t speak.” This translates into “leet”, which is short for “elite”.

A separate survey of words used in the media and on the Internet by California-based Global Language Monitor produced a different set of winners on Tuesday. “Hybrid” took top honors as word of the year with “climate change” the top phrase.

Global Language Monitor, which uses an algorithm to track words and phrases in the media and on the Internet, said “hybrid” had broad connotations of “all things green from biodiesel to wearing clothes made of soy to global warming.”

Runner-up was “surge,” based on the “surge” of 30,000 extra U.S. troops deployed to Iraq since mid-June, followed by the word “Bluetooth,” a technology used to connect electronic devices via radio waves.

“The English language is becoming more and more a globalized language every year,” said Global Language Monitor president Paul Payack, noting that this year’s list included words also culled from India, Singapore, China and Australia.http://www.reuters.com/article/oddlyEnoughNews/idUSN1256278120071212?pageNumber=2&virtualBrandChannel=0&sp=true

WHa+ @ W00+ ,eh


I just wonder how many more l33t words will be in next years edition

(i prefer o to 0)

As more of a purist-slanted student of language, while new ‘creations’ are welcome, I’ve seen that sometimes some ‘new creations’ degrade language rather than enhance it (e.g., so-called ‘ebonics’). While "w00t’ by itself doesn’t rise to something as absurd as ‘ebonics,’ too much of a slant in the direction of l33t will be too much of a perversion. While communication (if you speak the same language) is universal, if that ‘communication’ erodes standards (i.e., understanding that messages from texting on cell phones isn’t part of a standard language and doesn’t have to meet standards like grammatical rules as a real language does), then it blurs and can eventually eliminate the distinction between grammatically correct language and ‘slang.’ That’s what this has the danger of becoming, in the name of ‘globalization,’ which would be quite bad in reality.

w00t ,Quema34 … :smiley:

you sure are opening a profound line of discussion… sounding a bit like Spock … :slight_smile:

wot u say has a line of reasoning , but it ignores the fact that the English we speak today is way different to that of long ago ,eg. we now don’t go talking in thees and thous ,and all manner of other antique words and expressions which we have - thankfully - dropped many years ago… example talking about penultimate dates ,and ref your message of the 6th instant … and so on…

in other words, our language today meets the communication needs of today … and so it will continue to evolve and be different 100 year s from now … it’s called progress…

u also need to consider why we used l33t speak , and how it evolved
it was mainly so we could communicate in a language which was more difficult to be read by the regulators who tried to spy on and catch the hackers… it was not intended to be easily understood by anyone else other than the l33t cracking and distributing groups.

example : Wh3N3V3R J00 0P3N THI5 pH1l3 ruN +hE CR@cK f1r5t
is harder to read than whenever you open this file run the crack first

hope this helps to put your mind at ease …


Well, you should know I am a linguist and hold a Masters in Spanish Philology (the study of the Spanish language, its grammar, translation, literature, history, evolution, linguistics, teaching and all that as it relates to Spanish culture), so that is the basis upon which I’m reacting to such an addition of said word.

I agree that in general terms, the ‘evolution’ of the language from something like ‘thou’ to ‘you’ is useful and certainly a ‘good’ evolution. I could also show you Spanish from the Middle ages, which looked more like Portuguese than Spanish, so when it got closer to the 1700-1800s, it looked far closer to the modern day Spanish than did the Spanish of the Middle Ages. However, essentially the only thing that changed was the writing of the letters, and perhaps some of the defined meanings (which were either amplified or altered according to the needs of the time to reflect contextual usage)–the grammar and rules of the language essentially stayed the same.

From a purist’s point of view (as I was introduced to and agree 100% with), any new ‘words’ that are introduced into any language, while enabling communication, should also ultimately be universally accessible to all, essentially held in place by certain rules. While I can understand the addition of “w00t,” my point was (and still is) that adding too much of something that is no more than cell phone texting (and which does not meet rules of language, but rather user convenience) is the same difference between formal language (writing for books, for example) and slang (using ‘ain’t’ instead of the proper ‘isn’t’). While it is acceptable to use slang/informal language in everyday speech (that would violate many grammar rules) because it is “communication” within users of a certain group (English speakers say in North America), using it does not make it acceptable as a part of formal language. Your example is a perfect one for a form of communication (informally defined as a ‘code’ which another receives and deciphers), but it does not meet the standards of being a part of formal language, which must adhere to certain grammatical, spelling and other rules. The fact the example is essentially a “code” is meant to EXCLUDE certain people, not INCLUDE users universally. That is my point, and that is the point of formal language; therefore my caution that just because certain words are added to a dictionary does not mean those words meet the standard of being employed as a part of formal language–and the fact that introducing too many terms that would exclude others than include them in the language process is what I refer to as ‘blurring the distinction’ between what is formal and what is slang. Hence, the potential danger of English losing some of its formal language standards, only in the name of ‘globalization.’

Oh, don’t worry–I only make the observations and I’ll adhere to formal standards regardless of what does or doesn’t happen. I certainly haven’t and won’t lose any sleep over someone adding words to a dictionary. :wink:

Quema34 use many many words. Albert no comprende. Dumb person’s guide to Quema34’s last post, anyone? That’s too much intelligence for me. :stuck_out_tongue:

Translation of above Quema34 post … some people try to keep their communications “secret” by mangling commonly accepted language. Adding it to the commonly accepted language is stupid and voids the original intent … therefore , the reviewers (including this crap as part of the common language) have totally lost the plot.