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Pwn is a slang term that means to defeat, often in an extreme way. It was originally used in the context of computer gaming, particularly massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), but is now often used in many different contexts.
The term pwn has developed around judgments on technology, its uses and its advancements, in a competitive environment. For example, one would say that one tech company "pwned" another by rolling out a vastly superior product. Alternatively, "pwn" is used in the context of individual performance, for example, the triumphant orator "pwned" his or her opponent. A related term that has also gained prominence is "epic fail," which means extreme failure.
Linguists speculate that "pwn" was originally derived from the word "own," where to "own" someone means to ensure his/her complete and total defeat. It is believed that because the "o" and "p" keys are next to each other on a standard English keyboard, "pwn" was such a common typo for "own" that it eventually took on the original word's meaning.