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 Nov 8, 2010 at 1:38
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    Even though this question predates it, it's worth linking to this Meta discussion.
    – Robotnik
    Sep 1, 2016 at 7:34

5 Answers 5


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. Nov 9, 2010 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, 2010 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. Nov 9, 2010 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, 2011 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, 2011 at 18:23

According to the dictionary:

newbie (n.)

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

It's also not necessarily restricted to gaming.

noob (n.)

c. 2000 in gamer slang, variant of newbie; often used interchangeably with it, but also often with a more derogatory shade of meaning

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    Worth noting that that dictionary entry is for 'newbie', not noob.
    – DCShannon
    Sep 16, 2016 at 1:19

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


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, 2016 at 1:02
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    There's also absolutely no way Counter Strike was first. It predates the game by several years, if not decades.
    – Frank
    Jan 26, 2016 at 2:11

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, 2014 at 8:47

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