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Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

Owned, in common slang, means decisively defeated, with the implication of domination and possession. The term is often used to describe the results of competition in sports, gaming and business.

The Jargon File offers these two meanings:

  1. Your condition when your machine has been cracked by a root exploit, and the attacker can do anything with it.
  2. To be dominated, controlled, mastered. For example, if you make a statement completely and utterly false, and someone else corrects it in a way that humiliates or removes you, you are said to “have been owned” by that person.

In social media and business, owned is also used to refer to general domination --  on Twitter, for example, if you post a compelling tweet that is widely retweeted, you might be said to have "owned Twitter." Intentionality is essential, however. A post that's widely shared because it's considered to demonstrate a failure of some sort doesn't qualify, even if it is the most prevalent tweet in people's feeds. It also leaves the poster open to being owned by people who respond to the original tweet most effectively.

Dominating the market for a technology is also referred to as owning it. Intel, for example, has been said to own the desktop and server processor market.

The slang usage of the word own is thought to have originated in hacker culture in the late 20th century, where it referred to gaining administrative control of a target computer. In leetspeak, owned is spelled in a number of ways, including 0wn3d. From hacker culture, this usage of own moved into gamer culture, where it is commonly spelled pwn.

This was last updated in April 2017

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