The AP story Merriam-Webster’s Word of ’07: ‘W00t’ brings us this welcome news:

”W00t,” a hybrid of letters and numbers used by gamers as an exclamation of happiness, topped all other terms in the Springfield dictionary publisher’s online poll for the word that best sums up 2007.
Merriam-Webster’s president, John Morse, said ”w00t” was an ideal choice because it blends whimsy and new technology.
”It shows a really interesting thing that’s going on in language. It’s a term that’s arrived only because we’re now communicating electronically with each other,” Morse said.

There’s a lot of “l33t speak” I don’t care for, but I’ve always liked w00t; there’s something primally yawpish about it, and I’m glad to see it get this recognition. (Thanks, Bonnie!)


  1. Kind of sad that while Merriam-Webster spelled the word correctly on their website (w00t), the NY Times felt it had to type “woot” in their article.

  2. The Arsenio Hall Show reduplicated woot differs from the gamer-speak w00t. While perhaps related, gamer-speak w00t probably comes from h4x0r-speak w00 as in:
    The h4x0r-speak w00 probably comes from the drunk wooooo! the w00w00 h4x0r group used to have a link on http://w00w00.org linking to an excerpt of a comedian’s rant, where he makes fun of the “frat boy” wooooooo!.
    Granted, from Arsenio Hall to mid-90’s h4x0r-talk, plenty of time exists for an adoption and change to have occurred. Anyone have further pointers?

  3. No discussion of “woo” is complete without a reference to Derf’s study of “woo girls”.

  4. Not to be snarky, but are they sure w00t isn’t the 1997 Word of the Year? Is “emoticon” going to be the 2008 word?
    (If anything is the internet meme word of the year this year, surely it’s the Lolcat, right?)

  5. Actually, it looks like the Times did it correctly. Unfortunately, the effect is lost because of the text figures (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Text_figures for a reasonable definition) in the typeface used both there and here.

  6. Cited your post over here. Thanks! (You don’t seem to have trackback here.)

  7. That’s over here, sorry for the confusion (copy-pasted the wrong link).

  8. Be sure to catch Grant Barrett’s extensive discussion here.

  9. Thanks! Grant’s post is as close to definitive as we’re going to get (executive summary: the term goes back to the 1993 song “Whoot! There it is”; attempts to derive it from the hacker’s “root” are unfounded).

  10. W00t “is the word that best sums up 2007”?
    Oh, come on….read that again.
    For a sub-set of the (US)population called “gamers” (themselves a sub-set of computer users, who are a sub-set, etc) who targeted the poll, perhaps.
    I don’t follow current slang (he says, grumpily) but I simply can’t believe this. It’s Merriam’s PR department at work.

  11. I’m not a gamer and have no contact with that subculture, but I use and enjoy it. Sure, the “best sums up 2007” thing is a crock, but come on, it’s a silly year-end game (and, yes, a PR thing), not a serious analysis of language!

  12. I seem to remember that the song was called “Whoomp! There it is”. But it’s a long time ago, mercifully.

  13. LH:
    Okay, it’s a silly year-end game, but
    this, from The Register
    sums up my feelings and quite possibly (totally unscientifically) a widespread feeling this side of the pond:
    “w00t voted ‘Word of the Year’
    In the US, we hasten to add
    By Lester Haines
    The truly repulsive “w00t” has been crowned Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year for 2007 – based on “thousands” of votes from visitors to the dictionary’s website.
    According to the official announcement:
    This year’s winning word first became popular in competitive online gaming forums as part of what is known as l33t (“leet,” or “elite”) speak – an esoteric computer hacker language in which numbers and symbols are put together to look like letters. Although the double “o” in the word is usually represented by double zeroes, the exclamation is also known to be an acronym for “we owned the other team” – again stemming from the gaming community.
    It gets worse: the verb “facebook” secured second spot, and Merriam-Webster kindly provides the following example: “I facebooked Sarah the other day and posted a comment on her wall, but she has yet to reply to my comment.”
    Strategy Boutiques, meanwhile, were represented in fifth place. We’ll leave it to you to spot the offending term: “All the managers were locked up in a meeting for the all day blamestorming about the lost contract.”
    To be fair to our American cousins, they did slightly redeem themselves with the inclusion in the top ten of “conundrum”, “quixotic” and “charlatan”, in 3rd, 4th and 10th places, respectively. The agreeable “Pecksniffian” also made a welcome appearance at number eight. ”
    Two nations divided …
    I rest my case 🙂

  14. I seem to remember that the song was called “Whoomp! There it is”.
    Your memory is accurate; believe it or not, there were two songs, one with each title.
    Two nations divided …

Speak Your Mind