The term's original usage was close to that of the traditional meaning of the word own – for instance, "I owned the network at MIT" indicated that the speaker had cracked the servers and had the same root-level privileges that the legitimate owner of the servers had. Some more examples are "I owned you" and "You got owned". Owned, a later variant, became more common in the late 1990s, as did the more abstract usage referring to any compromised security mechanism. By 1997, owned was regularly used in website defacements, and it subsequently spread to gaming circles, where it was used to refer to defeat in a game. For example, if a player makes a particularly impressive kill shot or wins a match by an appreciable margin in a multiplayer video game, it is not uncommon for him or her to say owned to the loser(s), as a manifestation of victory, a taunt, or provocation. Ownage has become a modern equivalent to a "Turkey shoot," such as an experienced faction versus a beginner or disadvantaged faction. In slang form, owned can be an adjective (He is owned), owning can be a verb (He is totally owning that guy.), and ownage can be a noun.
Owned has now spread beyond computer and gaming contexts and become part of standard slang, and typically follows severe defeat or humiliation, usually in an amusing way or through the dominance of an opposing party. Other variations of the word owned include own3d, 0wn3d, pwned, and pooned, terms which incorporate elements of leetspeak.
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- Owned from the Jargon File, version 4.4.7. Retrieved 2007-09-22
- Tom Fulp, "Microsoft Warns Of 'Browse-And-Get-Owned' Attack", InformationWeek, July 7, 2009.