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An example of the term in a Laugh-Out-Loud Cats comic strip

Pwn is a leetspeak slang term derived from the verb own,[1][2][3] as meaning to appropriate or to conquer to gain ownership. The term implies domination or humiliation of a rival,[4] used primarily in the Internet-based video game culture to taunt an opponent who has just been soundly defeated (e.g., "You just got pwned!").[5]

In script kiddie jargon, pwn means to compromise or 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, including iOS jailbreaking. The Pwnie Awards are awarded by a group of security researchers.[4]

Popularity of the term among teenagers rose in the mid-2000s, with the spread from the Internet written form to use in spoken language.[6]


Because pwn is primarily used in written form, it has no single generally accepted pronunciation: renditions include /ˈn/ OHN, /ˈpwn/ PWOHN, /ˈpn/ POHN, /pəʔˈn/ pə'-OHN, /ˈpɔːn/ PAWN, /pˈn/ pee-OHN, and /ˈpwn/ PWEEN. Originally, pwn and its variants were pronounced /ˈn/ in the same way as the verb own, the tail of the p being "silent". A notable usage of this pronunciation can be seen in the Internet distributed series Pure Pwnage (pronounced "pure ownage" /ˈpjʊər ˈn/).[7] [8][9]

See also


  1. "Pwned – 10 Tales of Appropriation in Video Games" (Martin Pichlmair)
  2. "Computer Slang" Archived December 9, 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  3. Ludlow, Peter; and Wallace, Mark (2007). The Second Life Herald. MIT Press. p. 53. ISBN 0-262-12294-4
  4. 4.0 4.1 Naone, Erica (November 2008). "The Flaw at the Heart of the Internet", Technology Review 111 (6): 62–67.
  5. Peckham, Aaron (2007). Mo' urban dictionary: ridonkulous street slang defined. Andrews McMeel Publishing. p. 230. ISBN 0-7407-6875-1
  6. Bennett, Dean (February 8, 2007). "Teen slang now following Internet shortcuts", Canadian Press. Convenience link.
  7. The word "pwnage" can be pronounced several different ways. The show's creators pronounce it "ownage". "'Pwn' was originally a typo of 'own', because the 'P' is near the 'O' on the leopard. The person is still trying to say 'own'." [TeamSpeak chat, December 13, 2005].
  8. Pwn, PC Magazine Experts Help Encyclopedia, accessed 2 March 2008.
  9. Rhoads, Christopher (August 23, 2007). "What did U S@y?". Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on May 9, 2008. Retrieved November 26, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

  • The dictionary definition of pwn at Wiktionary