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“Noob” (also referred to as “Newbie”) is an English slang term and a pejorative label used to describe a newcomer or inexperienced user. On the Internet, “noob” usually refers to an inexperienced computer user, especially in the context of online gaming or programming.
“Noob” originated from the word “Newbie”, a term originally used in the 1960s–1970s among U.S. troops during the Vietnam War to refer to a new man in a unit. There are multiple theories regarding the etymology of the term “newbie”; some assert that it may have come from the word “newie,” which referred to a neophyte or a beginner as early as since 1850s, while others point to the British public school slang “new boy” or “new blood” that emerged around the same time.
The term is believed to have entered online usage through the Usenet newsgroup talk.bizarre in the 1980s, according to The Jargon File. The earliest archived mention of “newbie” can be found in another Usenet discussion thread posted on May 31st, 1988.
The net is all too often cluttered with requests for BinHex, StuffIt, PackIt… and hasty articles about not being able to unbinhex 4.0 with 5.0, and “what’s a .pit file?” I did my stuggling as a newbie – let’s get some info out for those that are new to the net so that it works for all of us. Or shall we ignore newbies like someone suggested we ignore non-programmers??
- Posted by Barbara Dyker via comp.sys.mac
The term became heavily used among computer programmers with the emergence of l337speak in the 1990s, which led to the birth of its variant “n00b,” spelled with two zeros instead of O’s.
Urban Dictionary has 258 definitions for “Noob” as of March 2012. The highest ranking entry is a three part essay written by SlykeThePhoxenix on August 27th, 2007. The entry attempted to set a clear distinction between a noob (n00b) and a newbie (newb):
A noob/n00b and a newbie/newb are not the same thing. Newbs are those who are new to some task and are very beginner at it, possibly a little overconfident about it, but they are willing to learn and fix their errors to move out of that stage. N00bs, on the other hand, know little and have no will to learn any more. They expect people to do the work for them and then expect to get praised about it, and make up a unique species of their own.
By May 2009, “noob” had become such a commonly used word that rumors about its inclusion in the English dictionary began to spread. The rumors began when Global Language Monitor, a linguistic analysis firm that tracks and studies English language trends, revealed that “n00b” was one of the candidate words being considered for its recognition as the one millionth English word. This announcement was subsequently covered by Geekologie, Destructoid and Pixelated Geek, as well as news media outlets like The Telegraph.
Although the term has yet to be included in the the Merriam-Webster Online, it was eventually listed in the Online Slang Dictionary and the Oxford Dictionaries with the following description:
n00b: a person who is inexperienced in a particular sphere or activity, especially computing or the use of the Internet.
Commonly found in chat, forums or in-game communications, it is used as a means of identifying those who are deemed less than elite within an online community, thus it is almost always interpreted as an insult. However, criteria for being considered a newbie remain vague; a person can be called a newbie in one newsgroup while remaining a respected regular in another.
Although “noob” is still the most popular abbreviation, other variants have emerged since, with each carrying a slightly different meaning or connotation. Some of the most prominent ones include:
- Noob is the standard and most widespread variation. It is most commonly used to new and inexperienced people. They are commonly seen as annoying and disrespectful, not willing to learn anything about the subject they are “noob” in. A popular derivative of this is “n00b”. These share the same meaning, but n00b is more commonly used in places where 1337-speak is present.
- Newb is also used towards new and inexperienced players. The common difference with noob is that these people are aware of their inexperience and are willing to learn more about it in order to get better.
- Newfag is the 4chan version and one of the more popular -fag suffixes. It is used most commonly towards new and inexperienced users on 4chan, but has spread to other sites as well.
STFU NOOB! is a catchphrase most commonly used in image macros, using images of angry people or animals in a screaming position. This originated from online gaming. Noobs would often complain about various things within the game, to the extent where others would become annoyed. One of the more popular replies to this was “STFU NOOB!”.
Newfags Can’t Triforce
“Newfags Can’t Triforce” is a often occurring 4chan roll call / response meme. Experienced members (oldfags) would challenge new members (newfags) to post a triforce, which is 3 triangles assembled into a larger triangle. Oldfags would be aware that this requires the usage of alt-codes, whereas newfags would simply copy & paste, failing in the proces.
Noob Tube is internet slang used in first person shooter games to refer to the attachment of an under slung grenade launcher to assault rifles. Because it is relatively easy to kill another player with the grenade launcher and the attachment’s tube-like shape, “Noob Tube” has become associated with newbie players who opt for grenade launcher mode.
Google Insights reveals that the volume of search queries for “noob” superseded that of “newbie” in late 2005. Meanwhile, search interest in the word “newbie” has been steadily declining ever since.
Pixelated Geek – Noob to be added to the official English dictonary