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For other uses, see PWN (disambiguation).
"Powned" redirects here. For Dutch public broadcaster, see PowNed.
An example of the term in a Laugh-Out-Loud Cats comic strip

Pwn is a leetspeak slang term derived from the verb own,[1][2][3] as meaning to appropriate or to conquer to gain ownership. The term implies domination or humiliation of a rival,[4] used primarily in the Internet-based video game culture to taunt an opponent who has just been soundly defeated (e.g., "You just got pwned!").[5]

In script kiddie jargon, pwn means to compromise or control, specifically another computer (server or PC), web site, gateway device, or application. It is synonymous with one of the definitions of hacking or cracking, including iOS jailbreaking. The Pwnie Awards are awarded by a group of security researchers.[4]

Popularity of the term among teenagers rose in the mid-2000s, with the spread from the Internet written form to use in spoken language.[6]


The word pwn most likely came about as a common typo of the word own because the "p" and "o" keys are adjacent on a standard English keyboard.[6][7]


Because pwn is primarily used in written form, it has no single generally accepted pronunciation: renditions include /ˈn/ OHN, /ˈpwn/ PWOHN, /ˈpn/ POHN, /pəʔˈn/ pə'-OHN, /ˈpɔːn/ PAWN, /pˈn/ pee-OHN, and /ˈpwn/ PWEEN. Originally, pwn and its variants were pronounced /ˈn/ in the same way as the verb own, the tail of the p being "silent". A notable usage of this pronunciation can be seen in the Internet distributed series Pure Pwnage (pronounced "pure ownage" /ˈpjʊər ˈnɨ/).[8]

Where speakers vocalize the p, pronunciations include pwen, "pwin", pawn, "pone", pun[9] and pwone.[10]

See also


  1. ^ "Pwned – 10 Tales of Appropriation in Video Games" (Martin Pichlmair)
  2. ^ "Computer Slang"[dead link]
  3. ^ Ludlow, Peter; and Wallace, Mark (2007). The Second Life Herald. MIT Press. p. 53. ISBN 0-262-12294-4
  4. ^ a b Naone, Erica (November 2008). "The Flaw at the Heart of the Internet", Technology Review 111 (6): 62–67.
  5. ^ Peckham, Aaron (2007). Mo' urban dictionary: ridonkulous street slang defined. Andrews McMeel Publishing. p. 230. ISBN 0-7407-6875-1
  6. ^ a b Bennett, Dean (February 8, 2007). "Teen slang now following Internet shortcuts", Canadian Press. Convenience link.
  7. ^, pwn – own, accessed 2006-01-01.
  8. ^ The word "pwnage" can be pronounced several different ways. The show's creators pronounce it "ownage". "'Pwn' was originally a typo of 'own', because the 'P' is near the 'O' on the leopard. The person is still trying to say 'own'." [TeamSpeak chat, December 13, 2005].
  9. ^ Pwn, PC Magazine Experts Help Encyclopedia, accessed 2 March 2008.
  10. ^ Rhoads, Christopher (August 23, 2007). "What did U S@y?". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved November 26, 2009. [dead link]

External links

  • The dictionary definition of pwn at Wiktionary