Missing image
A player is "pwned" in a game of Counter-Strike. That player is not visible due to being moved elsewhere after losing.

The verb to pwn (past tense: pwned, pwnd, pwn'd, pwnt, pooned) as used by the Internet gaming subculture, means to beat or dominate an opponent. While it probably originated as a typing error of the word own, it is now used intentionally by many members of the subculture. The term has become so ubiquitous in Internet circles that it is often used outside of gaming contexts; for example, "He just got pwned in that debate" or "The hunters pwned that bear."



The most widely held theory is that pwn originated from a typo in first-person shooter games, the common mistake occurred from a hand position. The user, using his mouse right-handedly, would hold three of his fingers on the keys, "a", "w", and "d", along with the mouse in his right hand. When prompted to make a comment upon fragging his opponent, a quick motion to type the word owned resulted in a typo. Due to the proximity of the keys "p" and "o" on a standard QWERTY keyboard the user hit the "p" instead of the "o" key, resulting in the word pwned. Intentional misspellings based on keystroke errors are common in leet, such as teh for the and replacing exclamation points with 1s.

One story reports that in the game StarCraft, someone made a custom map where losing players would see a special message. However, instead of typing in "YOU WERE OWNED," a typo resulted in "YOU WERE PWNED." It is said that every use of the word pwn therefore comes from this one hapless misspelling, or a similar one occurring in a Warcraft or Unreal Tournament game. One possibility exists in a mispronunciation, in Diablo: Hellfire, where an enemy claims he will “own” you. The word is pronounced more like "puh-own". This may be somehow related to the "StarCraft Theory".
Rendering Error
One origination comes from an undisclosed game that reportedly corrupted the letter "o" when it was typed resulting in what appeared to be the letter "p"
Some people believe that the word was originally a contraction of the term power-owned, pure ownage, pistol-owned, perfectly owned, ping-owned, player-owned, professionally owned, or properly owned. These are probably back-formations.
Pawned in a game of chess
Happens when you checkmate someone in a game of chess with a pawn.
Unix Password Own
One of the ideas of its origin comes from the Linux/Unix subculture. Password Own meant that a person owned the root password, and thus no one but the password owner could access that machine any longer. Password owning is such a powerful way to lock down a Unix machine, that the application of pwn in online gaming is a more powerful version of own and why it caught popularity.
Alternate for owned after word was banned
Another theory supports the idea that pwned originated on gaming forums after the word owned was banned. Administrators banned the word to try to keep flame wars down, and as a result, forum users merely "censor-bypassed" it, changed the spelling to get past any auto-blockers in place. (See also article on Pr0n).
Dripping Blood "O"
Another theory suggests that pwned is a version of owned with supposed blood dripping from the "o".
Still another interpretation makes the case that pwned was not an accident, but instead a contraction of the word pawned. This theory is based upon the idea that the person who was defeated was owned, and then pawned off, as an item would be at a pawnshop. See pawnbroker.
Owned Carryover
It is likely that pwn is actually the result of a carryover of the word 0wned used by computer crackers on IRC to declare that they have successfully gained access to a computer or target (as in "I just 0wn3d that Windows box").
Another way the word 'Pwn' has been manipulated. Pwnage is a way of saying I owned you or I beat you. Gamers have shortened it to Pwnage.


Main article: Leet

Pwn has become part of the sub-language of gamers called leet (short for elite) speak. While mostly used by gamers, this language is also used by those who commonly partake of IRC programs and other chat mediums such as AIM and Yahoo Messenger.

It is possible that one reason pwn has caught on in the gaming world is because the pronunciation of the letter "p" sounds more like an impact sound than "o," emphasizing the act of ownage.

According to some gamers, "pwnd" is a contraction for "Player-owned" meaning that one player has killed another. Likewise "ganked" is slang for "gang-killed" meaning that many players have killed one player.

WTFPwn! is derived from the contraction of the Internet slang term WTF ("What the fuck?") and pwn and is intended to suggest that a player was not just pwn'ed, but that such pwnage happened so quickly that the other player was left wondering what happened (and saying "What the fuck?").


Template:IPA notice There is no uniform way to pronounce pwn as it is most often encountered in text. Possible pronunciations include:

  • (as in "put")
  • BrE {{/pəʊn/}} (rhymes with "moan")
  • AmE , BrE (as "pawn" in chess)
  • (the participle pwnd would be pronounced fittingly like "pound", or else simply rendered as "pounded")
  • (as "pwin")
  • (rhymes with "soon", this comes from pronouncing the "w" as in Welsh)
  • AmE , BrE (rhymes with "on")
  • AmE , BrE (as prawn)
  • (as "pea win")
  • (as "pea own")
  • (similar to , but with a "y" sound included)
  • just as "own," ignoring the typo
  • in some cases, with two syllables, as pay-ween or puht-ween.

Derivative words

  • Al Capwned usually synonymous with pwned, although a sense of surprise is implied.
  • Post-Pwned pwned at least twice by the same person. Used to mean "Pwned and Pwned again."
  • Powned is synonymous with pwned
  • Pwnage (Pwnij, Pwn4g3) means complete domination. The exclamation originated in the gaming culture.
  • Pwnzor (Pwnz0r) used as a different form of pwn, although they have the same meaning and usage, such as "Outlaw, I pwnz0red you."
  • Tehpwnzor (Tehpwnz0r, T3hpwnzor) nominal form of the aforementioned pwnzor, prefixed by the leetspeek teh. Usage: "That torrent site is tehpwnz0r." It's also the name of a badge-giving boss in City of Heroes.
  • Tehpwnzriate embellished variant of the verb Pwnzor. Spoken aloud more frequently than typed because of its awkward spelling. Usage: "Man, that horse completely tehpwnzriated that guy."
  • Pwnt is an alternate of the past tense or past participle of the verb Pwn. An example usage would be "You were pwnt." Another variation is Pwn3d.
  • Pizwn3d (piz- followed by the preferred pronunciation of "-wn3d") is used as a more intense version of pwn, meaning that one has been "completely pwn3d". It derives from the hip-hop culture habit of adding the infix, -iz-, to words. It may also be in reference to the Pizza Hut P'Zone commercial.
  • WTFpwned!? is widely used variant. Although its exact origin is unknown, it usually refers to an intensified "Pwned!" in a situation where it looked like the opponent was about to win, or a winning by a player that usually loses, or generally a surprising loss.
  • Pwn'd! the phonetic misspelling past tense of the word 'pwn'
  • Pwn't Similar to pwn'd
  • Pwnted An interesting variant of the past-tense of pwn (contraction of pwnt and pwned). Although grammatically it is illogical (the word is a double-past tense), the word can actually serve to denote repeated pwnings or a severity of pwnage that has been exacted in an uncommon fashion. Pwnted is the result of a nub who was recently taught leetspeak attempting to use leetspeak in his own sentences.
  • Also, J-Pwned. Adding "J-" to anything for emphasis, from the term J-Pop for popular Japanese music.
  • In relative to this, 'chizowned' is also used. Chizowned (Ch-is-owned) is also in relation to the cheese in the victim's skills. It is believed to come from Cheeze Wiz (contracted to Chiz) plus owned.
  • PWNSauce, another derivative of pwn, meant to describe owning someone in a "hot-doggish" or flamboyant manner.
  • Oregapwned an act of having one smoke oregano thinking it is illegal substance, coined by gamers. Ie. at Round III
  • Owntehpwnsord A combination of the original ownage and the derivative pwnage, it combines the two terms into one meaning you didn't stand a chance back when people said ownage and you don't stand a chance now.
  • Qwned, pronounced "quoned" is a lesser-known derivative of owned and pwned; as p follows o, q logically follows p. It is intended to be somewhat satirical of pwned as it would be a very unlikely typo. Also, when typed in lowercase, the "q" in qwned resembles an inverted lowercase "p".
  • Modus Pwnened, derived from modus ponens, a simple argument form in logic (Latin: mode that affirms).

See also

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