Leet | 1337

Leet | 1337

Leet (or “1337”), also known as eleet or leetspeak, is an alternative alphabet for many languages that is used primarily on the Internet.

The term leet is derived from the word elite. The leet alphabet is a specialized form of symbolic writing. Leet may also be considered a substitution cipher, although many dialects or linguistic varieties exist in different online communities. The term leet is also used as an adjective to describe formidable prowess or accomplishment, especially in the fields of online gaming and in its original usage – computer hacking.

Leetspeak uses various combinations of ASCII characters to replace Latinate letters. For example, leet spellings of the word leet include 1337 and l33t; eleet may be spelled 31337 or 3l33t. This may have its earliest origins in calculator spelling, where numbers on a calculator were used upside and backwards to spell out words. (Example: a 3 looks like a capital E when it’s turned upsidedown and backwards.)

Acccording to WIkipedia:
Leet originated within bulletin board systems (BBS) in the 1980s, where having “elite” status on a BBS allowed a user access to file folders, games, and special chat rooms. The Cult of the Dead Cow hacker collective has been credited with the original coining of the term, in their text-files of that era.[3] One theory is that it was developed to defeat text filters created by BBS or Internet Relay Chat system operators for message boards to discourage the discussion of forbidden topics, like cracking and hacking.

Leetspeak by Nathan Forget CC-2.0

Leetspeak by Nathan Forget CC-2.0

Creative misspellings and ASCII-art-derived words were also a way to attempt to indicate one was knowledgeable about the culture of computer users. Once the reserve of hackers, crackers, and script kiddies, leet has since entered the mainstream.  It is now also used to mock newbies, or newcomers, on web sites, or in gaming communities.

Some consider emoticons and ASCII art, like smiley faces, to be leet, while others maintain that leet consists of only symbolic word encryption. More obscure forms of leet, involving the use of symbol combinations and almost no letters or numbers, continue to be used for its original purpose of encrypted communication. It is also sometimes used as a script language. Variants of leet have been used for censorship purposes for many years; for instance “@$$” (ass) and “$#!+” (shit) are frequently seen to make a word appear censored to the untrained eye but obvious to a person familiar with leet.

Leet symbols, especially the number 1337, are Internet memes that have spilled over into popular culture. Signs that show the numbers “1337” are popular motifs for pictures and shared widely across the Internet.

Citation styles

MLA style
Cynthia Kirkeby, “Leet | 1337.” GeekSpeakpedia. 6 January 2016, 17:52 UTC. . 22 Oct 2017 <http://www.geekspeakpedia.com/leet-1337/>.
The Chicago Manual of Style
Cynthia Kirkeby, “Leet | 1337.” GeekSpeakpedia, http://www.geekspeakpedia.com/leet-1337/ [accessed October 22, 2017].

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