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?


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. – Invader Skoodge Nov 9 '10 at 1:24
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    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. – Joe Dovahkiin Nov 9 '10 at 18:51
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    @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

According to the dictionary:

"newcomer, new person to an existing situation," by 1969, from new with diminutive or derogatory suffix

It's also not necessarily restricted to gaming.

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  • Worth noting that that dictionary entry is for 'newbie', not noob. – DCShannon Sep 16 '16 at 1:19

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

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The term came from Ed Boon one of the creators of Mortal Kombat. They created a chacter name Noob Saibot, John Tobias also head of Neatherelm Studios. The two split. But the chacter in the game was over powerful and only people who were beginners were using him due to easy configurations and special moves.

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    Noob Saibot is backwards for Tobias Boon. It's not connected to the term "noob" whatsoever. – 5pike Jun 3 '14 at 8:47

First seen use dates back to playing Counter-Strike 1.1 circa 2001. Definitely meaning Newbie shortened to Newb and Translated into l33t sp34k. N00b.

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    Welcome to Arqade! The question is "how it originated", not "when it originated". – Ave Jan 26 '16 at 1:02
  • There's also absolutely no way Counter Strike was first. It predates the game by several years, if not decades. – Frank Jan 26 '16 at 2:11

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