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The terms 'n00b', 'nub', and 'newby' are all over gamer culture, but where did they come from? Did someone just decide we need a general word for someone who is unskilled? Is it a corruption of 'new' or some other word?

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The original word you're looking for is "newbie", though I'm unsure of it's etymology. Wiktionary suggests it might originally be from Newfoundland. en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Newbie –  Raven Dreamer Nov 8 '10 at 1:38
    
If none of the answeres are to your liking, you could always try English language SE. –  RedRiderX Nov 28 '11 at 12:50
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3 Answers

N00b and nub are corruptions of "noob", itself a corruption of "newb", short for "newbie". "Newbie" was in use at least as far back as the BBS era of the 1980s and early 1990s, where it referred to a user who was new to BBSs. It was less of an insult and more friendly than "noob", which was popularized by Counterstrike players in a context where a poor player can ruin the game for others.

Newbie itself is modern slang, where according to Wikipedia it referred to new soldiers in Vietnam. The word's origin before this is unclear, but it appears to be a word created to turn the adjective "new" into a noun, perhaps as a diminutive (Barbara -> Barbie, for example).

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I actually treat noob and newb as different terms. A newb is someone new to the game (or whatever) who has potential to be a great contributor, someone who is trying to learn and become competent. A noob is someone who is terrible at the game but insists that he is the master. Newb is a state everyone goes through, whereas noob is an insult. –  StrixVaria Nov 9 '10 at 1:24
    
In regards to the Vietnam comment. From what I've heard, it was a composition and shortening of "new blood". –  TheQ Nov 9 '10 at 13:51
    
@StrixVaria I agree here. It's entirely down to the context in which the words were used. Everyone was a "newbie" once, but a "noob" is someone who ruins your Counterstrike game. –  Jonathan Drain Nov 9 '10 at 18:51
    
@TheQ I've heard that it was a shortened version of "new boots" because the boots of more expeirences soldiers would be old and worn –  bnb Sep 20 '11 at 17:43
    
@bnb That could be as well. I've only heard it by word of mouth, definitely don't have concrete, written evidence. –  TheQ Sep 20 '11 at 18:23
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Not sure, but according to the dictionary...:

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=newbie

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From the article Raven linked it is originated from the expression new boy, as spoken in Newfoundland.

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newfies talkin bout newbies... tssk. –  Manux Nov 9 '10 at 1:41
    
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newfie –  Jader Dias Nov 9 '10 at 8:51
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