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A message from an "owning" hacker.

Owned is a slang word[1][2] that originated among 1990s hackers, where it referred to "rooting" or gaining administrative control over someone else's computer. The term eventually spread to gamers, who used the term to mean defeat in gaming. Other variations of the word owned include own3d, 0wn3d, pwned, and pooned,[3] terms which incorporate elements of leetspeak.

In 2009, Newgrounds described a security vulnerability in ActiveX as leaving Windows XP and Windows 2003 Server users open to a "Browse-And-Get-Owned" attack.[4]

Owned has now spread beyond computer and gaming contexts and become part of standard slang, especially in social media, and is typically used to signify severe defeat or humiliation, usually in an amusing way or through the dominance of an opposing party, in diverse contexts ranging from sports to politics (e.g. "Obama owns Fox News" or "Trump owns CNN").[3]


The term's original usage was close to that of the traditional meaning of the word own – for instance, "I owned the network at MIT" indicated that the speaker had cracked the servers and had the same root-level privileges that the legitimate owner of the servers had. Some more examples are "I owned you" and "You got owned". Owned,or Ownded a later variant, became more common in the late 1990s, as did the more abstract usage referring to any compromised security mechanism. By 1997, Owned was regularly used in website defacements.[5][6]

Usage in gaming

The term "owned" subsequently spread to gaming circles, where it was used to refer to defeat in a game. For example, if a player makes a particularly impressive kill shot or wins a match by an appreciable margin in a multiplayer video game, it is not uncommon for him or her to say owned to the loser(s), as a manifestation of victory, a taunt, or provocation. Ownage has become a modern equivalent to "turkey shoot"; applicable when an experienced faction predictably annihilates a beginner or disadvantaged faction. In slang form, owned can be an adjective (He is owned), owning can be a verb (He is totally owning that guy.), and ownage can be a noun.

The phrase "own" can not only refer to defeating one particular player or team, but it can also be used to indicate total domination of the competition. The racing video game Need for Speed: Nitro follows this definition by awarding a special bonus called "Own it", in which a player earns points for every second he/she spends in first place, while also expressing his/her dominance visually to other opponents by painting every portion of the course where he/she leads with his/her tag and colors.[7][8]


  1. ^ "Society For Linguistic Anthropology newsletter".
  2. ^ "Australian Journal of Emerging Technologies and Society" (PDF).
  3. ^ a b Owned from the Jargon File, version 4.4.7. Retrieved 2007-09-22
  4. ^ Tom Fulp, "Microsoft Warns Of 'Browse-And-Get-Owned' Attack", InformationWeek, July 7, 2009.
  5. ^ "Spice Girls website defacement". attrition.org. 14 Nov 1997. Archived from the original on 2005-11-27.
  6. ^ "Yahoo website defacement". attrition.org. 8 December 1997. Archived from the original on 20 February 2006.
  7. ^ "NITRO Track Guide - Singapore". YouTube. Need for Speed. 13 November 2009.
  8. ^ Bozon, Mark. "Need for Speed Nitro Review". Retrieved 2009-11-12.
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