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Own up


By Miranda

This above all to thine own self be true... to which the word 'own' should itself pay some attention. If you're a gamer, or if you have a teenager in the family or work environment, you're probably familiar with the expression, 'totally owned'.

Now this could mean you are in complete control of a situation - 'I totally owned the pool' as a successful swimming competitor might say. This seems a not unreasonable extension of the feeling of owning the world (or part of it) that comes with success or elation. Charles Lindbergh, the early aviator, described how he 'Owned the world that hour as I rode over it... free of the earth, free of the mountains, free of the clouds', a fair response to the then very new thrills of flying.

On the other hand (in the passive, that is) 'I was totally owned' means not merely a defeat, but a trouncing - being totally owned requires not merely failure but a humiliating one (or is it 'an humiliating one'?).

These meanings for 'own' have evolved over the last twenty years from the hackers who 'owned' any system which they had penetrated and side-tracked into 'pwn', originally a spelling error which then became part of the 'leetspeak' phenomenon - don't go there if you are not of the true computer elite (from which word the term 'leet' is derived) - and it's embarrassingly try-hard to refer to 'leet' as 1337.

Thus the word 'own' moved from possession, through conceding, to conquering, mastering, simply beating and being mortifyingly vanquished.

At least one can have fun with constructing one's 'own' sentence, for example:

'If I owned that which I own, I own I'd own you and you'd be totally owned.' Or in more conventional English - 'If I possessed (the game) I'm very good at, I admit I'd defeat you and you'd be humiliated.'

It's 'an ill-favoured thing, sir, but mine own'... though I'm sure some of you can squeeze a few more in.

Challenge accepted?



7 Responses to

Own up

annev said:
March 23, 2012 at 10:59 AM

I own that I don't have a clue how to proceed

March 23, 2012 at 1:15 PM

I must own up to the fact that I am almost computer illiterate by today's standards. I own a couple of computers, my desktop, which I use, and a laptop which just lies around, till I go to chemo. I am, of course owned by my dog. He looks after me very well at every opportunity. Even if he is just two handfuls in size. He definitely considers that he owns me and has a responsibilty towards me.

March 23, 2012 at 5:44 PM

have a cockatoo who thinks he owns everything here ..doesnt like a person will say so ..

no1llama said:
March 24, 2012 at 7:58 PM

Thank you! Now I know what my sons friend meant when she said that I "totally owned her". I had no clue, but your expansion on the definition explained that one to me, it also means that, for once perhaps, the younger generation are using a catch phrase in the manner in which it was (at least in one context)originally intended?

Xrosie said:
March 25, 2012 at 7:39 AM

My husband has a cat, Yails, who totally owns not only hisservants, Brian and I, but both the kelpies and the galah as well. Guess we are all totally owned in one way or another.

cheekygs said:
March 25, 2012 at 8:53 PM

Sorry Miranda... what is a gamer? I don't have teenagers... they are all in their 30's and I have never heard them use the expression 'totally owned'

March 26, 2012 at 6:25 AM

To each his/her own