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What is 'pwned'?


Young man celebrating at laptop, in a living room
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Question: What is 'pwned'?
September, 2013

You have seen this peculiar term online, with expressions like "I got pwned!". Now, you hear it on the bus and in public as people speak about their personal lives. So what exactly does "pwned" mean? And is that the same a "pwnage"?
Answer: It can be pronounced as "owned" or as "poned", with both pronunciations being correct. In some cases, you will even hear it pronounced as "pawned". "Pwned" means "to be controlled against your will", or "to be defeated by a superior power". You might also hear the expression, "pwnage", which is the noun version of "being pwned".

This "pwn" expression originated in the 1980's from the word "owned". It was used to describe when a hacker would take remote control of a server or another computer. The use of "p" to replace "o" was simply a misspelling at first, but the spelling stuck as a stylistic point.

With today's MMO games (massive multiplayer online games), the term "pwned" has now became a way to gloat in one's victory over another player. Conversely, pwned is an expressive way to say that you yourself have been defeated by another player.

Some examples of this pwned expression in digital culture:
  • "I got pwned by those three horde players. They ganked me bad."
  • "We pwned that other team, woot!"
  • "Hahaha! Jason got pwned in arena today!"
  • "That was total pwnage! We totally crushed that boss monster!"

Some examples of this pwned expression in daily life:
  • "That speeder got totally pwned by that radar trap cop!"
  • "We pwned that other basketball team!"
  • "Oh, man. I got totally pwned by the aerobics instructor in class today. That was so difficult!"
  • "Pwnage! I got an A on that exam! Woot!"

Indeed, digital culture has spilled over into daily life. It is common for the modern generation to use these expressive techno terms in daily conversation. Now, you too are welcome to used "pwned" as part of your daily vocabulary.

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