GamerSpeak – “Uber-Pwnage”

A young professional woman attended a rock concert recently.  When she met the lead singer of the band, she described the experience by writing, “It was uber-pwnage!”

Uber-pwnage.  Right.  I know what you’re thinking.  When did the letter “w” become a vowel?

I did a little etymological research on this expression and the answer is cute.  I’ll share it with you here.

Ok.  “Uber” is a German prefix meaning “over” that English has borrowed at least for stylish and slang expressions.  No problem.  But “over” or “upper-level” or “meta” or “really strong” used with “pwnage”?  Uber-pwnage?  wtf?

From the way the young woman used the expression, it must mean something like “really great.”  But how?

The answer comes from a totally unexpected and funny direction.

It comes from what has come to be known in competitive gaming circles — board games,  sports, cards, negotiation, and more — as “trash talk.”

Talking trash.  You know what I mean.  It’s when one player gets so far ahead of the opponent that the game is essentially over.  The now inevitable winner smiles and says, either quietly or with a shout, “I own you.”

Sure, you say.  Everybody knows that.  But how do you get from there to “pwnage.”  Good question.  I’ll tell you.

Let’s say your competitive playing field of choice is an online war game.  In the old days, your computer’s keyboard was your ONLY means of communicating with the game, including any teammates and opponents.  Even today, with audio and video often built into the gaming experience, the keyboard is the primary communications tool.

So what, you say?  I’ll tell you.

So there you are online.  At war.  You now have your opponent on the ropes.  You’re in such command of the game that you can’t possibly lose.  Or maybe that’s what you want to tell your opponent to psyche them out.

So what do you do?  You reach for your keyboard and type, “I own you,” right?  Right.

But the letter, “o” is right next to the letter, “p.”  🙂


So now you’re the opponent and you see on your computer screen, “I pwn you.”  ???????? 🙂

From there, it’s clear etymological and grammatical sailing to “uber-pwnage.”

“Own” becomes “pwn,” pronounced as “pone” or “pawn,” depending on your preference.  (see update below)

Add the English suffix, “-age,” when your energetic gloating and trash talk requires a noun for a condition of life to go with the transitive verb.  In other words, the game condition of “ownage,” with the comical mis-spelling, becomes, the game competitive state of “pwnage.” 🙂

Make the game/competitive condition, not just “ownage” and”pwnage,” but “uber-ownage” and you get — you guessed it —


Who knew?

– tom mcmullen

UPDATE:  It turns out that the people who really know don’t pronounce “pwn” as either “pawn” or “pone,” but simply “own,” as if the mis-typing of “p” instead of “o” never happened.  So our “uber-pwnage” is pronounced “uber-ownage.”  Gotta love GamerSpeak!  🙂


Legend of Zelda, the classic NES game.
I, ahem, happen 2know the 1st vid is what comes whenUwin! 🙂

The Guild – Felicia Day – “Do You Want to Date My Avatar” 🙂


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