Internet Culture for Beginners: Leet Speak

Posted by: Maxine Brimmer (3 years, 1 month ago)

You might have noticed that not everything people say on the internet is easy to understand; in fact sometimes you might feel more like you’re solving a riddle than reading a comment. What is this strange and confusing phenomenon? It’s what’s referred to as Leet, leetspeak or sometimes 1337.

Leet works by using numeric or symbolic alternative to regular alphabet letters in a word, so in the word “LEET” itself, the letters are replaced with the similar-looking numbers “1337”. Leet originally became popular on the internet with hackers, who used the confusing text as a way to conceal the text on their sites from search engines. As an example, if a hacker typed the word “H4ck3r” on their website, it would not show up if anyone searched for the word “hacker” on Google, and therefore kept their profiles low.

Although this used was originally used by hackers, leet eventually filtered out into general internet culture and as such became used by a much more widespread user base. Since leet became popular on the internet, it became pointless to hackers, who completely abandoned it.

These days, it is generally agreed upon by the vast majority of internet users that leet speak is the hallmark of immature newbie users. Or as they would say: “1337 i$ f0r n00bz”. Leet speakers are generally looked at as obnoxious by most internet users.

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