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What is a Noob?

By R. Kayne
Updated May 17, 2024
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Noob is an alternate spelling of “newbie,” which refers to an inexperienced person, particularly in the gaming community but also in other online venues. Noob can be used in a friendly, teasing manner, such as one experienced gamer saying to another, “You played that like a noob,” or in a derogatory fashion as a general insult. Other spelling variations include “newb,” “n00b” (using zeros), and “nub.” Generally, the further from “noob” one gets in spelling variation, the greater the intended insult.

The easiest way to spot a noob is by lack of skill or unfamiliarity with venue protocols. Every online arena has its own netiquette, whether it’s Internet Relay Chat (IRC), USENET Newsgroups, the World Wide Web (WWW), a virtual world such as Second Life, or a competitive game room. General rules or guidelines make the arena more fun for everyone, and breaking them cluelessly can result in being called a noob or being flamed (verbally attacked).

Luckily, most online venues feature areas for newbies to gather where they can learn about the venue before venturing into the fray. IRC features chat rooms specifically for newbies where experienced users answer questions. A noob can find newbie newsgroups in USENET, and Web forums generally have terms and use policies posted that suffice. In the gaming world a noob can have a little harder time at first, but it might help to realize that everyone started out as a noob at some point.

Though we have come to think of noob as originating online, the U.S. Army used the term “newbie” during the Vietnam War (1959-1975) to refer to newly arriving soldiers in the field. Another military term, “Non-Useful Body (N.U.B.)” referred to submarine sailors that had not yet gained enough experience to be especially helpful in a crisis. “Newbie” became popular again in the 1980s as dial-up bulletin boards flourished, along with private content providers like Prodigy, America Online (AOL) and CompuServe.

Today “newbie” and noob have become part of the popular vernacular, referring to anyone who appears inexperienced or “green,” whether true or not. It is also used as a familiar term when combined with “dude” as in, “noob dude.” The dude portion has been dropped all together in some regions of the U.S., particularly New York and neighboring New Jersey, where a noob can refer to anyone on the street.

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Discussion Comments

By anon310891 — On Dec 27, 2012

Noob is used on almost all of the lego like websites, including roblox and minecraft.

By anon310328 — On Dec 21, 2012

Thank you. I'm not an English speaker, and now I understand what it means.

By anon307849 — On Dec 07, 2012

Newbie and noob were in use a long time before gaming was even thought of.

By anon183148 — On Jun 04, 2011

In my experience there are a lot of idiot jackasses who think they know what Noob means but clearly do not. They should read this article.

People that think because you aren't a 'professional' gamer (meaning all you do with your life is play video games to the exclusion of all else) you are a noob.

By anon71207 — On Mar 17, 2010

I think geek suffices, either expert or amateur it covers both.

By anon70496 — On Mar 14, 2010

anon#2, I think you're thinking of nude.

By anon41406 — On Aug 14, 2009

you're a N()()B if you have to look up the definition. lol

By anon39831 — On Aug 04, 2009

i always thought that n00b was a naked person but i guess it's a new person.

By anon19993 — On Oct 23, 2008

I can't believe there is an actual clear explanation of what a newb is lol.

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