How to Read and Write in 1337

Two Methods:1337 SamplesReading and Writing in 1337

LEET (1337) is a written language or cipher used in online gaming, e-mails, text messaging, tweeting, and other electronic communication. The root of the term "leet" is the word "elite"--translated as 31337--and 1337 was initially developed as an exclusionary language: a way to encode text so that messages could only be read by the initiated. The defining characteristic of 1337 is substitution of symbols and numbers for letters (for example, in the term "1337," 1=L, 3=E and 7=T), but the language has also developed to include intentional misspellings, phonetic spelling, and new words. If you want to familiarize yourself with 1337, or if you're just curious about it, this article will explain the basics of how to read and write in this ever-changing language. The license plate on the car says H4X0R2, or Hackers.

1337 Samples

1337 Cheat Sheet

Sample 1337 Paragraph

Reading and Writing in 1337

  1. Image titled Read and Write in 1337 Step 1
    Keep an open mind. Like all languages, 1337 isn't static. Reading 1337 can be difficult and the language may not always appear to make sense, especially since new words, random capitalizations and alternative spellings proliferate. You can learn basic guidelines for 1337, but there are no rules, and individuals alter the language to suit their own needs. It is important to keep in mind, however, that the same can be said for any language. All languages are living and changing; 1337 is simply very alive and changing quickly.
  2. Image titled Read and Write in 1337 Step 2
    Think of the symbols as shapes and not as their meanings. For example, a 5 looks a bit like an S, as does a $, so either of these symbols (among others) could be substituted for an S. When writing in 1337, you can follow guidelines such as those below, you can use the same substitutions of symbols for letters that you see other people using, or you can make up your own substitutions.
  3. Image titled Read and Write in 1337 Step 3
    Combine two or more symbols and numbers to make single letters, such as |= for F or |3 for B. Again, you will find some frequently-used combination substitutions, but don't be afraid to be creative when you're writing, and don't be discouraged if you come across something unfamiliar when you're reading.
  4. Image titled Read and Write in 1337 Step 4
    Pay attention to context. If you can't figure out the meaning of a symbol, try to guess its meaning based on the letters (symbols) around it. This is a bit like playing hangman or Wheel of Fortune: you try to figure out the missing letter or letters by looking at the surrounding letters. The same can be said of whole words. If a word doesn't make sense, you might not be translating it right, or it might be unfamiliar slang. Try to guess its meaning by looking at adjacent words or the sentence which contains the word.
  5. Image titled Read and Write in 1337 Step 5
    Familiarize yourself with common phonetic replacements. In addition to symbol-for-letter replacement, 1337 can include letters which substitute for other letters, sounds or words. For instance, f = ph, cks = xx, s = z or r = are. This practice is certainly not unique to 1337--you don't have to be a 1337$p34|<3r (leetspeaker) to figure out the phrase "i luv u."
  6. Image titled Read and Write in 1337 Step 6
    Brace yourself for flagrant misspellings. Some, such as "kewl" (for "cool") are phonetic replacements, while others such as "teh" (for "the), or "ownt" and "pwned" (for "owned") have just grown into the language as an inside joke. Other variations, such as omission of vowels, are also common. "Creative" spelling is just part of 1337.
  7. Image titled Read and Write in 1337 Step 7
    Learn new grammatical structures. 1337 users often deviate from standard English grammatical structures, and they have invented some grammatical devices of their own. For example, the suffix "0rz" can be added to a word to make it plural or to add emphasis, as in "r0xx0rz" for "rocks," where "r0xx" would substitute for "rocks". Another common suffix is "3d," used to indicate the past tense such that "rocked" becomes "r0xx0r3d," as is "7h47 r0xx0r3d" ("that rocked"). It has also become something of a convention to change verbs to nouns by preceding the verb with "the" or, especially, "teh."
  8. Image titled Read and Write in 1337 Step 8
    Embrace acronyms. Though technically just chat-speak, the use of acronyms and abbreviations is common in 1337. There are a tremendous number of acronyms used in electronic communication, among them BTW ("by the way"), TTYL ("talk to you later"), and the ubiquitous LOL (generally meaning "laugh out loud"). Even the meaning of unfamiliar acronyms will probably become obvious if the letters are examined in context, for example ROFLBBQCOPTER ("ROFLBBQCOPTER") or ROFLB52BOMBER ("ROFLB52BOMBER"), and you can always make your own.
  9. Image titled Read and Write in 1337 Step 9
    Expand your vocabulary. Though most of the "new" words in 1337 are simply misspellings of English words ("taht", for example, or "pwn"), some are actually new coinages, such as "nooblet"--this could be written, for example, as "n008137"--which denotes a "noobie," or the 'newguy' |\|3\/\/|3 (newb) someone new to 1337 or something else. The best way to learn the vocabulary is to read a lot of 1337.
  10. Image titled Read and Write in 1337 Step 10
    Adapt to inconsistency. Sometimes, you'll see people with 1337 "skillz," sometimes you'll see "5k1||5," and sometimes "$c1llz0r3d." Sometimes all three will be the same person writing in the same passage. There is a lot of inconsistency in 1337--get used to it.
  11. Image titled Read and Write in 1337 Step 11
    cApItalizE at random. Random capitalization is arguably an integral part of 1337. Some writers employ a consistent method, such as capitalizing all letters except vowels or only ending letters, but many simply capitalize letters (where they are not replaced by symbols), whenever they want..
  12. Image titled Read and Write in 1337 Step 12
    Practice reading 1337 and study the chart below. The only way to really learn 1337 is to absorb it by reading and writing a lot of it. If you read through 1337 $|o3/-\|< |=/-\57 3|\|0U9|-| u

1337 Chart

  • Note:
    • The commas are added to separate symbols
    • The symbol | (Example: B = |3 ) is a "down-slash", or "pipe", and not a lower-case "L" or capital "i"
    • The symbol ` (Example: T = 7` ) is not a standard apostrophe, but is a "Grave Accent" and is found on the tilde (~) key
    • Also keep in mind that the use of /-/ for H for example, aren't used nearly as often as the normal letter in a quick conversation. To write an entire sentence this way would take three times as long, thus the quicker single symbol or letter substitutions are more often used.
  • A = 4, /-\, @, ^, /\ , //-\\ /=\
  • B = 8, ]3, ]8, |3, |8, ]]3, 13
  • C = (, { , [[, <, €
  • D = ), [}, |), |}, |>, [>, ]]), Ð
  • E = 3, ii, €
  • F = |=,(=, ]]=, ph
  • G = 6, 9, (_>, [[6, &, (,
  • H = #, |-|, (-), )-(, }{, }-{, {-}, /-/, \-\, |~|, []-[], ]]-[[,╫
  • I = 1, !, |, ][, []
  • J = _|, u|, ;_[], ;_[[
  • K = |<, |{, ][<, ]]<, []<
  • L = |,1, |_, []_, ][_, £
  • M = /\/\, |\/|, [\/], (\/), /V\, []V[], \\\, (T), ^^, .\\, //., ][\\//][,JVL
  • N = /\/, |\|, (\), /|/, [\], {\}, ][\][, []\[], ~
  • O = 0, (), [], <>, *, [[]]
  • P = |D, |*, |>, []D, ][D
  • Q = commas are necessary: (,) or 0, or O, or O\ or []\
  • R = |2, |?, |-, ]]2 []2 ][2
  • S = 5,$,š
  • T = 7, +, ']', 7`, ~|~, -|-, '][', "|", †
  • U = (_), |_|, \_\, /_/, \_/, []_[], ]_[, µ
  • V = \/ , \\//,√
  • W = \/\/, |/\|, [/\], (/\), VV, ///, \^/, \\/\//, 1/\/, \/1/, 1/1/
  • X = ><, }{, )(, }[
  • Y = '/, %, `/, \j , ``//, ¥, j, \|/, -/
  • Z = 2, z, 7_,`/_


  • One of the best ways to learn 1337 is to play a MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) such as Runescape, FlyFF, Guild Wars, or WoW. This can also keep you up to date on new words and styles of 1337.
  • If you want to get really creative, you can download language packs or even get special keyboards (Cyrillic language keyboards, for example), to increase the number of characters you can use.
  • It is very easy to change the setting so it shows 1337 on lots of websites. Its Good Practice. It works for Google, wikipedia, and lots more. (It may be called Hacker instead of 1337)
  • Do not take 1337 5p33k as an actual language, it's purely satirical.
  • Don't be afraid to go beyond your keyboard. You can open up a world of possibilities by using special characters, such as ©, ®, ¢, €, ¥, €, and £, in your 1337. If the application you're using provides a character map, you can use that to insert these symbols. Otherwise, you can make them in a word-processing application and paste them into another application (this often won't work, though), or enter them in HTML code (see external link), or just use the ASCII character escape sequence (hold down ALT and type the 4-digit ASCII code on your numeric keypad. i.e., ALT-0176 = ° ).
  • While to date most 1337 has been based on English, it is increasingly spreading to other languages. Since it is not technically an independent language, but rather a code based on other languages, 1337 is incredibly versatile.
  • Just a neat tidbit here, but Google speaks leet! [[1]]
  • Experiment with different amounts of 1337-ness when writing. It is technically possible to replace all letters in a word with other symbols, but then it becomes difficult to read and time-consuming to write. For example, "Saturday Night live is so funny!" can be translated to $47|_||2|)4% |\|19|-|7 |_1\/3 1$ $0 |=|_||\||\|%! at 100% 1337-ness (no original letters remain in the 1337 translation). At 50% the same phrase can be $475rD4% N19h7 |_1v3 1$ $0 |=|_|nn%! As you can see, the second translation is a little easier to read and write than the one before.
  • If you are using Mozilla Firefox, download the 1337 key converter in extensions. Leet key is useful for other typing languages as well.
  • Visit a 1337 translator and type in a few random sentences. Look at the letters from your sentence and compare them with what you get in the bottom. If you are able to change the percentage of 1337-ness, try it at 100% and compare, then try it at 75%, and 50%.
  • The use of the phrase "on steroids" does |\|07 indicate condonement of their use, but rather translates roughly to "only more so," as in the statement "|<un6-|=v i5="" _|u5t="" pa7t%-{43k="" 0n="" 5"|"3r0i|}s."
    *A leet low on time symbol (hourglass): [}{]
  • One of the original uses for 1337 was to bypass filters for spam and obscenity (as in "p0rn" for "porn"), and while filters have made progress keeping up with 1337, it is still useful for that purpose, although the other members won't appreciate it.


  • Make sure you do not forget real writing and how to use grammar and spell correctly.
  • Calling those who make fun of you for it "|\|0o8|3t5" is (while funny) not recommended anywhere that you can be booted from.
  • 1337 is pretty harmless, but be prepared to get made fun of for using it!
  • Be prepared to get flamed for using 1337 speak, as many see it as a vile form of communication.
  • Creativity is fun and is rewarded in 1337 circles, but keep in mind that 1337 is still primarily a means of communication. Avoid making your 1337 writing completely incomprehensible. If nobody but you can read what you are writing, what's the point? (Or, what if that is the point?)
  • Use of 1337 on forums tends to annoy people and can get you banned. It is an indicator of your ignorance on most forums. Also, using 1337 to bypass spam filters is severely frowned upon. (Actually, it's the spam that's frowned upon)
  • Some people do not understand 1337.

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