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The term w00t (spelled with double-zero, "00"), or woot, is a slang interjection used to express happiness or excitement, usually over the Internet. The expression is most popular on forums, USENET posts, multiplayer computer games (especially first person shooters), IRC chats, and instant messages, though use in webpages of the World Wide Web is by no means uncommon. The w00t spelling (with double-zero "00") is a leetspeak variant of woot; alternative spellings include whoot, wOOt, wh00t, wewt, wought, etc.
See Wiktionary article w00t for details of etymology and citations; while origins are never certain, the below is the most credible, is supported by contemporary written references, and is credited by American lexicographer Grant Barrett.
Wider adoption of the term by American internet users: w00t (1996) is a leetspeak form of earlier whoot (1993), which in turn was popularized by the rap song “Whoot, There It Is” (single released March 22, 1993) by group 95 South; this is often confused with “Whoomp! (There It Is)” (single released May 7, 1993) by group Tag Team. Both these songs are in the same year, in the Miami bass genre. The terms whoot and whoomp (and the less common form “Whoops, there it is”) are standardizations of earlier oral use of hooting sounds variously rendered as whoo, whoof, woo, woof (compare standard woohoo), notably by studio audience on The Arsenio Hall Show (1989–94) and in movie Pretty Woman (1990).
The usage of The Arsenio Hall Show, specifically by the “dogpound” section of the audience, was in turn based on a dog’s bark woof, and derived from chants used at football games by the Cleveland Browns, from Hall’s home town, team nicknamed “The Dogs”.
Many folk etymologies exist, but the written record is clear: the term appears widely in popular print use only from 1993, particularly used both in dancehalls and at sporting events, and is credited to the songs. The w00t form gained popularity on the internet from 1996, especially in massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs).
Many folk etymologies and backronyms exist, none supported by the written record: these often credit the term to games that appeared years after whoot had been popularized (1993) or w00t has appeared in common internet usage (1996).
One such incorrect etymology derives w00t as a contraction of a phrase like "wow, loot!", "woo, loot!", "wondrous loot", and "Wonderful Loot", etc. in a MMORPG when a player found large quantities of/or rare valuable items in game, or as an acronym for "We Owned the Other Team". These games appeared after w00t was already common. Another supposed origin is as an expression used by a cracker (see security cracking) who has just broken into a computer system, obtaining "root" access: "woot, I have root!". Some people say it was just a parody on a child with a speech defect trying to say "loot" and saying "woot" instead.
Other etymologies relate it to "hoot" or "toot", as in trains in children's books, that went "Woot! Woot!", doing so as a statement of victory, or applauding good news. (Some people today say "Woot! Woot!" while making the hand-gesture of pulling a train's horn cord.) Alternatively, attempts are made to relate it to the Scots word "hoots", which is used in a somewhat similar manner — an exclamation signifying surprise, disbelief, or kindred reaction, though not for positive feelings (delight, joy) as w00t is. This is also along the line of some peoples use of "W00t?", replacing 'wot?' or 'what?' as a response to a happy surprise.
To repeat: there is scarce evidence for any of these supposed etymologies, and the derivation from the song “Whoot, There It Is” is clear and well-supported.
In popular culture
The word was featured on the list of Merriam-Webster's Words of the Year for 2007. They said, it "reflects a new direction in the American language led by a generation raised on video games and cell phone text-messaging".
- Matthew Holehouse (August 18, 2011). "Woot! Retweet and sexting enter the dictionary". The Telegraph. Retrieved August 18, 2011.
- “The Real History and Origin of Woot and w00t”, Grant Barrett, December 12, 2007
- Barrett, quoting Jay-Ski, who produced “Whoot, There It Is,” in a 1997 interview:
“There were eight versions of that going around. The idea came from the streets, and even though the 95 South one might have been recorded first, it was Tag Team who released it earlier.”
- G. Brown, Colorado Rocks (Pruett Publishing Co., 2004, p. 128), quoting members of Tag Team (Cecil “DC” Glenn and Steve “Roll’n” Gibson); quoted in Barrett:
“People had been saying ‘There it is’ forever. Everybody in Arsenio Hall’s television audience used to the ‘Wooof’ chant. We put that together with the ‘There it is’ dance-floor chant we were hearing at the club.
Gibson recalled that DC said, “Oh, man, we need to do a song called, ‘Whoom, there it is.”
“All I said was, ‘How do you spell it?”
- "Fans & Fanatics > The Dogpound (The Arsenio Hall Show)". TV Acres. Retrieved September 8, 2013.
- "W00T - What does W00T stand for?". Retrieved July 19, 2011.
- Jessica Bennett (December 14, 2007). "W00t! There It Is A quirky online gaming term is crowned Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year. A proud day for geeks everywhere.". The Newsweek. Retrieved July 19, 2011.
- Jason Szep (December 12, 2007). "w00t crowned word of year by U.S. dictionary". Reuters. Retrieved 2011-07-19.
- "DeviantART hires w00t!media to grow advertising in UK". July 12, 2011. Retrieved July 19, 2011.
- "w00t.IN | F.A.Q". Retrieved July 19, 2011.
- Mark S. Tucker (September 9, 2008). "A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange by Mark S. Tucker". Retrieved July 19, 2011.
- "review and pieces listing w00t Garaj Mahal". Retrieved July 19, 2011.