New(?) jargon using the verb, _root_

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Mon Nov 19 03:04:00 UTC 2012

In the 1998 example below the spelling for "rooted" is "r00t3d". This
is "leet" style parody spelling. This date can be pushed back I
believe. But searching Google Groups is a Sisyphean task. The results
are inconsistent and nonsensical. Also, maybe Phrack magazine has an
early cite.

Newsgroups: uk.telecom,
From: Paul Gregg
Date: 1998/12/26
Subject: Re: Free Calls to 07050 numbers
[Begin excerpt]
Absolute tripe. Unless you've r00t3d every news server in the world.
Which isn't the case since you sent begging emails to all ISPs begging
us to add your crap.
[End excerpt]

Newsgroups: muc.lists.bugtraq
From: m... at MUCOM.CO.IL (Marc Esipovich)
Date: 1999/12/23
Subject: Re: Announcement: Solaris loadable kernel module backdoor
[Begin excerpt]
> With the proliferation of these types of backdoors, is there any way to
> prevent your 'r00t3d' box from being backdoored?
[End excerpt]

Newsgroups: alt.phreaking
From: "Bryan Lloyd" <mitsu30... at>
Date: 2000/06/22
Subject: Re: i hunger for KNOWLEDGE
[Begin excerpt]
Also Linux, Unix, BSD and all like operating systems can be rooted and
files deleted or changed if you run telnet or ftp servers.
[End excerpt]

Newsgroups: netscape.public.general
From: sjso... at (Steve Sobol)
Date: 29 May 2001 22:28:55 GMT
Local: Tues, May 29 2001 5:28 pm
Subject: Re: 4.77: email password needed to send each new session
[Begin excerpt]
B!ff: K3wl, w3'v3 r00t3D da N at vy... 0h CrAp, INC0M!Ng $%^NO CARRIER
[End excerpt]

"Root" was used as a noun in the terminology of the Unix operating
system before "root" was used as a verb in the manner shown above.
Here are some examples from "The Jargon File" (version 4.4.7):
[Begin excerpt]
root: n.
    1. [Unix] The superuser account (with user name ‘root’) that
ignores permission bits, user number 0 on a Unix system. The term
avatar is also used.

    2. The top node of the system directory structure; historically
the home directory of the root user, but probably named after the root
of an (inverted) tree.

    3. By extension, the privileged system-maintenance login on any
OS. See root mode, go root, see also wheel.
[End excerpt]
[Begin excerpt]
crack root: v.
[very common] To defeat the security system of a Unix machine and gain
root privileges thereby; see cracking.
[End excerpt]
[Begin excerpt]
go root: vi.
[Unix; common] To temporarily enter root mode in order to perform a
privileged operation. This use is deprecated in Australia, where v.
‘root’ is a synonym for “fuck”.
[End excerpt]


On Sun, Nov 18, 2012 at 6:32 PM, Geoffrey Steven Nathan
<geoffnathan at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Geoffrey Steven Nathan <geoffnathan at WAYNE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: New(?) jargon using the verb, _root_
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Not new among us geeks. Folks have been 'rooting' their phones for three or four years at least. I rooted my Palm Pre shortly after I got it four years or so ago. I haven't rooted my iPhone 4S because that voids the warranty. But it does allow you to run cool stuff that Apple doesn't want you to run.
> Geoff
> Geoffrey S. Nathan
> Faculty Liaison, C&IT
> and Professor, Linguistics Program
> +1 (313) 577-1259 (C&IT)
> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: "Wilson Gray" <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
>> Sent: Sunday, November 18, 2012 6:20:03 PM
>> Subject: New(?) jargon using the verb, _root_
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>> -----------------------
>> Sender: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster: Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
>> Subject: New(?) jargon using the verb, _root_
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> "[The Google] Nexus 4 has already been _rooted_."
>> "For those who don’t know,
>> _Android-rooting_ is _the process of gaining access to the Google
>> operating system’s subsystem_.
>> The point is usually to overcome limitations put in place by carriers
>> and hardware manufacturers, allowing the user to alter or replace
>> system applications and settings, run apps that require
>> administrator-level permissions, and even completely replace the
>> device’s operating system."
>> --
>> -Wilson
>> -----
>> All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint
>> to come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
>> -Mark Twain
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society -
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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