What's Webster's word of the year? W00t!

LOL, the dictionary asks the Internet to vote and gets totally pwned.


Salon Staff
December 12, 2007 11:46PM (UTC)

You open up grandma's gift on Christmas morning and see that, as always, the sweet lady has bought you the perfect thing (Nintendo 64!). What do you say? If you're well-schooled in the language arts, if you're familiar with the most bitchin', radicool bits of slang, well then there is only one thing to say. "W00t!"

And, LOL, turns out you've just said Merriam-Webster's word of the year. W00t!

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The folks at the dictionary asked the Web to vote on the most consequential word in 2007. "Thousands" participated, and contenders like "facebook," "conundrum," "quixotic," and "blamestorm" got pwned! Voters chose"w00t" hands-down.

"W00t" will no doubt trip up readers who are less-than-k3wl. A noob looks at "w00t" -- with its zeroes rather than Os, but still pronounced "woot" -- and wonders only, WTF?

Allow me to learn you, f00l. Though "w00t" has no official spot in the M-W, Webster's online Open Dictionary defines it this way:

1. w00t (interjection)

expressing joy (it could be after a triumph, or for no reason at all); similar in use to the word "yay."

w00t! I won the contest!

One of Urban Dictionary's definitions says "w00t" originated among online computer gamers as an acronym for "we own the other team." Makes sense, but, you wonder, how would WOOT become w00t?

Oh man, do you not know l33t? Also called "Leetspeak," the Internet-born argot has as its hallmark the substitution of numerals for vowels -- A is 4, E is 3, I is 1, and O is 0. (The story is that the practice began as a way for hackers to thwart text searches for their conversations on online message boards.)

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John Morse, M-W's president, told the Associated Press that the selection of "w00t" "shows a really interesting thing that's going on in language. It's a term that's arrived only because we're now communicating electronically with each other."

But there's already been some criticism of the choice. Ars Technica's Nate Anderson derides it as "an expression so likely to die off in the near future that I can just about see its pallbearers lining up down the hall."

Allan Metcalf, a heavy over at the American Dialect Society -- I'm sorry, the Am3r1c4n D14l3ct S0c13ty -- agrees, telling the AP that the word is "amusing, but it's limited to a small community and unlikely to spread and unlikely to last.''

O RLY? D00d, it's the word of the year -- its time is now, and so what if it won't make it to 2oo9?

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Hey, take a look at previous M-W WOTY winners: "Truthiness" in 2006, "integrity" in 2005, "blog" in 2004, and "democracy" in 2003. Integrity and democracy? Yeah, like those are likely to last or to spread.

So let's enjoy w00t while we can. And to the hatas who say otherwise, Talk to the hand, suxorz!


Salon Staff

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