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.