Tuesday, January 12, 2010

But what is Leet? from Camilla

Dear Word Snoop,

I was given your wonderful book for Christmas and couldn't put it down until I had finished it. I am a retired mathematics teacher and have always loved words (and I believe that all teachers are English teachers regardless of what other subject they may be professing.)

But, I do have a question. I know what LOL means, but what is Leet?


Dear Camilla,

Thank you so much for this lovely letter!

Now as for Leet... It's a way of writing electronic messages with lots of numbers and keyboard symbols instead of letters. It began at least as far back as the 1980s with early internet users and computer gamers who used it almost as a secret code. As time passed it spread about so is not so secret any more! and many children (and adults), especially gamers, are familiar with bits and pieces of Leet. In fact, lots of things you find in electronic messaging started with Leet - like having numbers in place of sounds ("I 8" for "I ate"), leaving out vowels (hppy brthdy) and those deliberate misspellings ("teh" for "the".)

The word Leet is short for "elite" which means special, or above others. In Leet it's written 1337 or sometimes L33T. The numbers stand for letters that look similar - so an "1" looks like a "l" and a "3" is like a backwards "E" and a "7" is like a "T".

Well, anyway, that's a little bit about Leet. But it's always changing and becoming new, because the kind of people who use it love change!

Thanks again for this very nice letter,

all warm wishes, The Word Snoop

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