Competitive games can turn lifelong friends into furious rivals. One second you’re hanging in your buddy’s living room, the next you’re white-knuckling a controller and telling your pal to “git gud.”
Smack talk, trash talk, and shit talking have long been ways professional athletes intimidate their opponents. That hasn’t changed, but multiplayer and online gaming has brought a new type of smack talk into everyday parlance. Whether you want to gloat about a crushing victory in Super Smash Bros., describe how poorly you performed on a test or a big project at work, or just vent about being unlucky, there’s no word more all all-encompassing than “Rekt.”
The gamer slang is shorthand for “wrecked,” a word only deployed when something has been damaged to the point that it no longer works. Its abridged, viral sibling shares a very similar definition, only it’s meant to describe the physical or emotional destruction dealt to one’s very being.
You’ll hear it most when someone wipes the floor with their opponents in a game. When your friend beats you at Street Fighter without taking any damage, you’ve been rekt. When you 360 no-scope an opponent in your favorite shooter, they just got rekt. But its use extends far beyond the realm of consoles and computer monitors. It can be used to describe any situation of misfortune or emotional strain.
If you’ve ever accidentally studied the wrong section of a textbook for an exam, you’ve been rekt. If you’ve had to stay excruciatingly late at work to finish something that wasn’t your responsibility in the first place, sorry to break the news, but you’ve been rekt.
Rekt is an exemplary instance of gaming culture seeping into the mainstream. Its popularity online might be due to gamer slang, but its origin actually has nothing to do with games at all.
The online origins of “rekt”
Rekt really began popping up in Google searches and on message boards across the internet in mid-2014, according to Google Trends. However, the earliest Urban Dictionary definition of “Rekt” was submitted in June 2011 by user PossiblyCouldOKIWill. It reads:
Rekt: Text for ‘Wrecked’, as sooo drunk you’ve forgotten your name but can just about type a text to your mate whose missed called you. [sic]
That definition predates any gaming references by at least two years. What could easily have been interpreted as shorthand quickly typed out in the middle of a League of Legends match was actually the slurred text of a plastered bloke telling his friends how sloshed he was. But it only took another year before gamers caught on to the lingo.
The earliest gamer-centric Urban Dictionary definition for rekt was posted in May 2013, but over on the World of Warcraft forums on October 2012, a player by the name of Balrogboogie unwittingly coined how rekt is mostly used today.
“Get rekt ally scrublords.”
“Get rekt ally scrublords,” they wrote. “Post here if you are strong independent horde who has a galleon killrekt ally scrubs need not apply.”
To translate, there are two warring factions in Warcraft: the Horde and the Alliance (ally). They fight in swaths of contested land known as Battlegrounds. So it’s natural for some Horde-Alliance animosity to bubble up every now and again.
To top it off, members of one faction can’t communicate with members of the other, because each speaks a different in-game language. That means most of the smack talk between players takes place in online message boards.
Balrogboogie’s diss post has since been removed, so it’s impossible to see how much traction it garnered on the WoW forums, but clearly struck a chord with online RPG fans.
The rise of rekt
The comments are rife with corny puns and people ripping into each other for no good reason. It’s typical video game online gaming message board etiquette, but it was here that “rekt” began its internet takeover.
Weeks later, gaming YouTuber SSoHPKC tweeted an idea for a Halloween prank and ended it with “Get reKt”. By now, rekt had already cemented itself as a staple in the gamers’ lexicon. But it would take a depressing 4chan post, a heartless comment, and subsequent Reddit thread to make the word into a mainstream meme.
An anonymous 4chan user shared the story of his girlfriend testing positive for HIV in January 2014, which another user responded to with “LOL rekt.” A year later a screenshot of the thread appeared on Reddit with the subject text “Anon gets rekt” and garnered 1,300 upvotes. The submission was one of the first “Anon gets rekt” memes, which has since evolved into a whole meme format.
4chan is widely known as a hub for right-wing trolls and other undesirables, and the original “Anon gets rekt” post attracted plenty of racist comments. Even so, rekt blossomed into a surprisingly wholesome way to joke with friends online.
You can never be sure how random players you encounter online will respond to trash talk. It’s best to save the smack for your childhood friends, roommates, family, and anyone else you have time-honored rivalries with.
It’s always best to rek or be rekt by those you’ve got love for.
COINED is your guide to the language of video games and the people who play them. If you've ever been told to "get rekt" and couldn't tell if it was a compliment or an insult, we're here to explain where terms like that came from, what they mean, and how to use them in everyday conversation.
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