How-To Geek


A newbie, alternatively spelled newb or noob, is a neophyte in a given pursuit. The term refers to the lack of skills, experience, and understanding of conventions the individual has in the area in question. Thus one can be a “newbie” to the world of competitive real-time strategies or tennis without being considered generally unskilled or incompetent.

Although the term has heavy association with computers, gaming, and geek culture, it has a history that extends back nearly two centuries. While the etymology of “newbie” is debated, there are two reasonable etymological roots we can trace. As far back as the 1850s, the word “newie” was in use in both the United States and Australia to refer to someone new at a job, task, or hobby. Equally as old is the British phrase “new boy”, used in the British school system to refer to a new pupil. It’s easy to see how both “newie” and “new boy”, each referring to someone new and unschooled in the ways of a particular system, could easily morph into “newbie”.

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