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8 gaming words

8 words every gamer needs to know

You may play a round or two of Tetris on your phone to fend off boredom from time to time (in fact, I don’t think I know a single person who hasn’t given this game a go). You might even be pretty good at it. But it seems safe to say that you probably won’t be considered a hardcore gamer until you branch out a bit from Tetris—and start dabbling in the lingo of video games!

Here’s a list of some words to get you started.

aggro, v.: to become violent or aggressive, typically towards a player’s character. Often, as soon as your character comes into view, enemy characters will aggro—they’ll come after you. This word comes from the noun aggro, originally British slang for aggravation (in the sense “aggressive behavior”), formed from the first part of that word plus the colloquial suffix –o.

AOE, n.: “area of effect”: the area in which multiple enemies may be damaged by a player’s attack.

boss, n.: an enemy in a video game who is especially strong or difficult to defeat; battling a boss often heralds the end of a level or stage, or even the game itself. (You usually can’t advance until you beat the boss!) Boss is actually Dutch in origin—it comes from baas, meaning “master”.

FPS, n.: first-person shooter: a type of video game played with a first-person point of view. The player sees the virtual world through the eyes of a character in the game—when playing an FPS, you feel as though you are the character—and almost always wields a gun or other weapon  (hence shooter).

game, v.: to play video or computer games. The verb game is derived from the noun, which has cognates in other Germanic languages, but whose further etymology is uncertain.

grind, v.: to perform a task tediously or repetitively during gameplay, usually in order to improve a character’s abilities or explore all possible facets of the game. Somewhat like logging in hours on the treadmill at the gym: it’s probably not too exciting after a while, but in the end you will see results!

handle, n.: an identifying nickname. This word is often used in MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games), and it describes the pseudonym a player will give him- or herself as a method of identification among many other players gaming simultaneously. Etymologically speaking, handle comes from hand plus the diminutive suffix –le, with the original sense “that part of a thing which is designed to be held in the hand”. Another interesting fact? The earliest use of this sense of handle in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) dates as far back as the 19th century.

respawn, v.: to begin gameplay again after being killed by an enemy. This word is (perhaps obviously) from the prefix re- and the verb spawn. Spawn is ultimately a shortening of the Anglo-Norman word espaundre, which means “(of a fish) to shed roe (or eggs)”.

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