The word w00t, an expression of joy coined by online gamers, was crowned word of the year on Tuesday by the publisher of a leading U.S. dictionary.

Merriam-Webster Inc. conducted an online survey asking visitors which one of the 20 words and phrases for the frequently used word by the gamers, and w00t emerged with more votes from the readers who participated in the survey.

w00t typically spelled with two zeros reflects a new direction in the American language led by a generation raised on video games and cell phone text messaging, said Merriam Webster.

Merriam Webster's president, John Morse said that the selection of w00t showed a really interesting thing that's going on in communication language and reflected the growing use of keyboards to type words.

w00t belongs to gamers the world over. It seems to have been derived from obsolete 'whoot' which essentially is another way to say 'hoot' which itself is a shout or derisive laugh, said Think Greek on its Web site.

Online gamers increasingly replace numbers and symbols with letters to form esoteric computer hacker language which may not easily be understood by many people.

Facebook emerged second as a new verb meaning to add someone to a list of friends on the Web site or to search for people on the social networking site.