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Once the reserve of hackers, crackers, and script kiddies, leet has since entered the mainstream.
Some consider emoticons and ASCII art, like smiley faces, to be leet, while others maintain that leet consists of only symbolic word encryption.
The term "leet" is derived from the word elite, used as an adjective to describe formidable prowess or accomplishment, especially in the fields of online gaming or computer hacking.
The leet lexicon includes spellings of the word as 1337 or l33t.
However, leet provides exceptions; the word leetage is acceptable, referring to actively being leet.
These nouns are often used with a form of "to be" rather than "to have," e.g., "that was pwnage" rather than "he has pwnage".
Additionally, it modifies certain words based on a system of suffixes and alternate meanings.
There are many dialects or linguistic varieties in different online communities.
For more-casual use of leet, the primary strategy is to use homoglyphs, symbols that closely resemble (to varying degrees) the letters for which they stand.One theory is that it was developed to defeat text filters created by BBS or Internet Relay Chat system operators for message boards to discourage the discussion of forbidden topics, like cracking and hacking.Creative misspellings and ASCII-art-derived words were also a way to attempt to indicate one was knowledgeable about the culture of computer users.Some examples of leet include B1ff and n00b, a term for the stereotypical newbie; the l33t programming language; and the web-comic Megatokyo, which contains characters who speak leet.Text rendered in leet is often characterized by distinctive, recurring forms.