Thursday, December 13, 2007
"W00t" -- that's a double zero -- is now Merriam-Webster's 2007 word of the year.
It's leet speak, which itself is a kind of geek speak, and can alternately be rendered "woot" or "w007." It translates as "hurray!"
Leet speak (a.k.a. 1337sp33k) is short for "elite speak" -- a playful online lingo that frequently swaps numbers for letters and that originated in the hacking community.
W00t gained its lexicographic status through "thousands" of votes on Merriam-Webster's Web site, senior publicist Arthur Bicknell said. Other candidates included "sardoodledum" (a word made famous by the Scripps National Spelling Bee) and "facebook" (a verb meaning to use the social-networking site Facebook).
Neither "w00t" nor "leet speak" nor last year's winner, "truthiness" (coined by Comedy Central's "Colbert Report"), has made it into Merriam-Webster's physical dictionary. Still, Merriam-Webster's editors are "watching" these words for possible inclusion in upcoming editions, Bicknell said.
Tech bloggers yesterday alternately bemoaned, mocked and w00ted the inclusion of their word into mainstream slang. Nate Anderson, an Ars Technica editor, wrote on the popular tech news site yesterday that w00t is "an expression so likely to die off in the near future that I can just about see its pallbearers lining up down the hall."