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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 December 2007, 13:33 GMT
Gamer jargon becomes word of the year
By Mark Ward
Technology Correspondent, BBC News website

Screenshot from Halo 3, AP
The word "W00t" is widely used by online gamers

A word widely used among online gamers has topped an online poll for Word of the Year run by US publishing group Merriam Webster.

The word "W00t" got most votes in the poll looking for the word that best sums up 2007.

It is now included in the Merriam Website open dictionary that exists on the web.

The word, complete with zeroes instead of Os, has become widely used in chat during online games or chatrooms among those celebrating. Merriam Webster defines it as "expressing joy (it could be after a triumph, or for no reason at all)".

In a statement Merriam Webster president John Morse said it was a good choice because it blended "whimsy and technology".

"It's a term that's arrived only because we're now communicating electronically with each other," said Mr Morse.

Although the word has achieved great currency among gamers, opinion is divided over its inspiration.

Screengrab of Twitter homepage, Twitter
A tweet is the name given to a single message on Twitter
Some claim it is an acronym for the phrase "We Owned Other Team" - meaning that the winning side comprehensively beat their opponents.

Others, in particular Wikipedia, suggest it comes from the tabletop role-playing world of Dungeons and Dragons and is an abbreviation of "Wow, loot!".

A minor faction suggests that it might be short for "Want One Of Those" and is an expression of technological lust for a gadget, toy or other trinket.

Despite its popularity online, Merriam Webster said it would only make it into the regular dictionary if its popularity lasts. If its longevity becomes proven it could join other net-inspired terms such as the verb "to google", "blog" and NSFW.

There are currently no entries for "Woot" or "W00t" in the Oxford English Dictionary.

While W00t has its backers, there are many other potential candidates for words that sum up the technological year.

Among gamers "Ding!" could also be a popular choice as it is widely used when players reveal that one of their avatars has levelled up or got hold of a coveted magical item in a game.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, AP
Keen Facebook users are big users of its "poke" feature
This word derives from Everquest because a "ding" sound effect played when a character went up a level.

Outside the gaming community, the word "poke" must be high up the list of good candidates for its currency among the growing numbers of Facebook users who use it to prompt people they know to get in touch.

Another possible is "tweet" which also emerges from that other popular networking site Twitter. The site shares short messages among groups of people and a "tweet" is the term for a single message sent over the service. It has become used in preference to "twit" for obvious reasons.

Other widely acknowledged net memes for the year must include "lolcats" - which involves captioning pictures of animals - usually cats - with humorous text typically spelled in a distinctive, if mangled, style.

In terms of technology one word that has been bandied around much more in 2007 than any other is "multi-touch". Apple's much hyped iPhone got the technological world talking about touch screens as a way to interact with a handset.

In 2007 many mobiles, such as the LG Prada, HTC Touch, sport these tangible interfaces.

Has touch technology come of age?
29 Jun 07 |  Technology
'Blog' picked as word of the year
01 Dec 04 |  Technology
The meaning of 'lite'
31 Aug 06 |  Magazine
Should we simplify spelling?
10 Jul 07 |  Magazine
Are you a digital citizen?
22 Jul 05 |  Have Your Say

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