w00t is Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year for 2007

Voters at Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year 2007 poll have chosen "w00t" as 2007's most iconic word. M-W says that the word is a gamer's acronym for "we own the other team," but I'm inclined to think that that's a backronym, a back-formed acronym created to explain a word already in use.
1. w00t (interjection)
expressing joy (it could be after a triumph, or for no reason at all); similar in use to the word "yay"

w00t! I won the contest!
Submitted by: Kat from Massachusetts on Nov. 30, 2005 23:18

Link (via Ars Technica)


  1. Noooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

    Uttering w00t upon pwning the other team will never be quite as cool, this day forth…

  2. I always thought it was a derivative of “root”. This is from UrbanDictionary, which is by no means a reliable source…

    > One such milestone was gaining root access, but the term rooted or “gained root access” was easily understood so the term was changed to w00t to help disguise. Because of the difficulty of “rooting” many times the term w00t would be much in a celebratory tone. It later evolved to simply be a celebratory remark rather than a hacking milestone.

  3. One of the early etymologies for w00t I saw was from MMORPGs, being a webism for “wondrous loot”.

    This, of course, is about as verifiable as the other explanations.

  4. I thought it was simply an acronym for ‘Want One Of Those’?

    There’s now a UK mailorder shopping business called ‘Iwoot’ (I want one of those), that sells pointless gewgaws. Slogan “stuff you don’t need but you really, really want”.

  5. I’m shocked that Webster didn’t pick up on this, but Woot comes from an ancient form of the Norwegian, ‘Wøüd’ which, when translated out of context, means, “HHAHAHLOLOLOL U GOT PWNT HAHAHA FRAGFRAGFRAGLOLOLOLOLOLHEADSHOT”

  6. Frankly, I thought it was a malapropic version of Tag Team’s ’93 hit: Whoomp, There It Is! by Tag Team. Even though the name of the song is “Whoomp!”, it sounds like they are saying “Whoot! There it is!” and that’s what most people I know say when they hear the song.

    I always assumed its genesis was from there. Also, I could swear I’ve heard it used in crunk music since then as well.

    I agree that We Own the Other Team is a backronism. I mean, wouldn’t that be WPOT! then?

  7. In other news, Merriam-Webster put something like that up for a vote, which is pretty damn sad; the whole point of traditional sources like that is the notion that final decisions rest on some unseen star chamber of editors that decide on things purely on their own authority, even for silly things. I got a kick out of imagining that, for example, the decision to add “d’oh” to the Oxford English Dictionary came down to a few crusty old dons peering at each other mischievously over their half-moon glasses and betting yards of ale that you wouldn’t dare to put it in, you silly old bugger.

  8. Frankly, I thought it was a malapropic version of Tag Team’s ’93 hit: Whoomp, There It Is! by Tag Team. Even though the name of the song is “Whoomp!”, it sounds like they are saying “Whoot! There it is!” and that’s what most people I know say when they hear the song.

    Actually, there was a rival song called “Whoot! There It Is” by a group called 95 South. Such fierce battling between the warring Whoomp and Whoot factions has never been equalled. Not even the bloody skirmishes of the Family Guy Theme Song War of the late 1990s (between those who thought Stewie sings “Laugh and cry” and those who insisted he sings “Effin’ cry”) was as fierce as the 1993 war. Our urban canyons and suburban minefields echoed with whoomps and whoots until too many of our young had been lost.

    Tag Team may have won, but it lost the legacy, as the term “whoot” lived on. At least, it lived on via many different MUSE/MUSH/MUCK/MUDs and text-based BBSes, where the phrase was used as a general exultation of joy from 1993 on. That’s when I first encountered the term, and its first corruption was, quite unsurprisingly, “wh00t”. Eventually someone decided that it took too long to type that pesky h while jumping about with glee, and “woot” fell into general usage.

    Any attempts at explaining the word through backronyms are etymologically incorrect and embarrassing to read besides. “We Own the Other Team” indeed. That, M-W, would be “WOTOT”, and no self-respecting Counterstrike player would be caught dead saying that. (Actually, it’s probably hard to find any self-respecting Counterstrike player nowadays. Aimbots and euphemism generators lack self-respect.)

  9. Blacktiger @ #1,

    That you thought it was cool might just mean you’ve been living too long in your parents basement.

    Sorry. Someone had to say it.


  10. I thought woot was just a corruption of the common “wooh” or “woohoo”. With an added t, because sometimes you just want that hard consonant sound to say “Yes! I have solidly finished my exclamation!”

  11. We used it in the 80’s during dnd games…kept using it for online chat and games…so MW is slow to catch on.

  12. I always thought it was w00t, with zeroes, not o’s.

    I also thought even geeks had stopped using it about 5 years ago.

  13. I always thought ‘Woot!’ was an exclamation taken from Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Or did Douglas Admas steal it from somewhere else?

  14. The first time I encountered the term, on a gaming message board circa 2001, it was described as “the sound the whistle on a tugboat makes.” I’ve never thought of it as anything else.

  15. Lexicographers don’t add words to the dictionary willy-nilly. It takes time for a word to be legitimate enough to make the dictionary. Sure, people might have used it a long time ago, but now it has reached enough people for it to be added.

  16. grant’s article is interesting, but i seriously doubt his conclusion. “w00t” came from hackers, not from dance culture. as a D&D gamer from the earliest days of that game, i can say that i NEVER heard it uttered by anyone i knew who played it, but i do know that gamers and hackers are like two peas in a pod, and the language of the latter tends to migrate to the former. gamers popularized it, but occam’s razor says that hackers originated the term, not dancers — not a lot of gamers in dance clubs!

    two things come to my mind, though:

    1) that maybe this is just an instance of some sort of pop cultural zeitgeist, and it surfaced almost concurrently in different areas at the same time; and

    2) i know that lexicographers prefer some sort of paper trail when determining the history of things, but maybe this whole debate is also illustrating the danger we are in of losing the real story of our digital culture. no trail to follow in early BBS conversations!

  17. franko,
    You would have to have been unconscious not to have heard “whoot, there it is” in the 90s. Saying that w00t can’t have come from whoot because gamers aren’t clubbers, is like saying d00d can’t come from dude because there aren’t many gamer cowboys.

  18. It was an online poll. w00t won! Imagine that!

    This is exactly why Ron Paul scares me. As the line blurs between the Interwebs and real life, the power of a few kids with skillz grows exponentially.

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