noob

or n00b

[ noob ]
/ nub /

noun Slang: Usually Disparaging.

a newbie, especially a person who is new to an online community and whose online participation and interactions display a lack of skill or knowledge: Some games and gaming forums are crawling with annoying noobs.

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Origin of noob

shortening and alteration of newbie
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

ABOUT THIS WORD

What does noob mean?

In internet slang, noobs are hapless, unskilled beginners who don’t know what they are doing. As far as gamers are concerned, a noob is a nothing more than an easy kill—or a real nuisance as a teammate.

Where does noob come from?

Noob, often written as n00b with zeroes for the letter Os, is the opposite of 1337, or leet. 1337 refers to leetspeak, a 1980–90s internet language known for substituting numbers and special characters for letters, hence the zero-based n00b.

While 1337 means an elite internet user (elite became ‘lite and then leet in 1337), hacker, or gamer, a noob was a new or unskilled one—it comes from the informal term newbie (“novice”), shortened to newb and typed as n00b or noob in leetspeak. It began as a term of friendly mockery of a new users’ inexperience, but it was assumed these users would take time to learn how to become more experienced ones.

As the 1337-speakers migrated to the computer-gaming scenes in the 1990s, they brought their language with them. As gaming is a competitive hobby (and professional sport), unskilled players became seen as easy prey or unwanted liabilities in team games. A new, much less friendly version of noob emerged around this time as a result. Whereas a noob was once an eager apprentice, it became a poor player who either had no desire or ability to improve, met with hostility or criticism from other players.

Noob spread through these online gaming communities during the 1990s, reaching wider audiences through popular games like Counterstrike (2000+) and World of Warcraft (2004+) as well as video-game forum sites like GameFAQs. In 2006, noob was a frequent punch line on a South Park episode, “Make Love, Not Warcraft,” a satire of gaming culture. By 2009, the website College Humor was joking about gaming culture, and their language, in a video, “N00b Boyfriend.”

How is noob used in real life?

Noob is widely used by gamers as an insult during games and in memes–and sometimes as self-deprecation. Gamers or folks steeped in internet culture also use noob as a general insult for a naive, foolish, or clumsy person.

With the popularity of multiplayer games like Fortnite in 2018, we see more and more noobs everyday, perhaps positioning noob to return to its roots as a general term, more neutral for a beginner, a newbie.

Note

This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.

British Dictionary definitions for noob

noob
/ (nuːb) /

noun

slang another word for newbie Also written: n00b
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012