A scene from the "Let's Make Love, Not Warcraft" episode of South Park.

What Does Pwned Mean?

Pwned is a gaming term some people used back in the day, but its origin is unclear.

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Rhett Roxl is a professional writer who has been gaming for as long as he can remember. He merged both passions together to become a writer in the game industry in 2020.

Stephanie is a writer at VGKAMI and a long-time lover of video games—specifically JRPGs. Anything in the fantasy genre is her jam, and she vows to bring back The Legend of Dragoon one day. Stephanie has also worked as an editor at TheGamer and published features for NME.

Key Takeaway

“Pwned” is a derivation of the word “owned.” Players can say this to another player as an insult for defeating them or to feel superior.

The gaming community has spawned many terms over the years, and “pwned” is one of them. Those who play games with others online have most likely seen this term used before. Become more familiar with some of this online lingo.

You’ve Been Pwned!

When someone tells you that you’ve been “pwned,” it’s usually not a good thing. It’s harmless trash-talk, of course. But we know gamers don’t take trash-talking lightly.

“Pwned” is a derivation of the word “owned.” Back in the day, most players will tell someone they “own” them as an insult after dominating them in-game. At some point in time, either during the late 90s or early 2000s, gamers began using “pwned” instead of “owned.”

The true origin of this derivation is not entirely clear. Some players claim it came about when a map designer for the popular MMO Warcraft misspelled the word “owned.” Others say the term comes from the era of Quake 2.

Given how the letters “O” and “P” are right beside each other on the keyboard, it’s not surprising to believe that this may have been a common misspelling back in the day. Players may have just misspelled the word “owned” to “pwned” so much that it simply caught on.