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Also seen as "noobie", "n00b", etc.

Etymonline gives an origin by 1969, possibly in the military. Is there a more definite origin anywhere? I know it is was also common on the Usenet, but of course any such use must have been post-1979 when Usenet was invented.

I know that the suffix "-bie" (as in freebie, etc.) is not uncommon, but I'm looking for specific usages of that suffix with the word "new".

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1  
OED says the parallel with freebie is just one possibility for an "uncertain" etymology. It might be "perhaps alteration of new boy n. (after -y suffix.)" –  FumbleFingers Jan 20 '13 at 3:01
    
A question to this question, is whether or not we should include newie as a form of newbie. I decided before when looking at this that the only complete answer would include answer it for both that form and also restricted to newbie alone. Newie seemed to be at least 19th C. It doesn't help that both Newbie and Newie are proper nouns that turn up as such in searches. –  Jon Hanna Jan 20 '13 at 11:01
    
@JonHanna That question could be part of a good answer, but I am asking specifically about "newbie". –  Mark Beadles Jan 27 '13 at 17:24
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3 Answers 3

Per comment, OED says "origin uncertain". Personally, my money's on it being a variant of...

newie - Chiefly U.S. and Austral. A person who is new to a place, situation, etc.; a newcomer; a novice.

1856 B. H. Hall Coll. College Words (rev. ed.) , Newy, at Princeton College, a fresh arrival.
1917 Truth (Sydney) 1 Apr. 6/7 Two newies had a rough-up at Rozelle.
1961 A. Berkman Singers' Gloss. Show Business Jargon 61 Newies (Var.), novices; neophytes.

Regardless of whether it was formed by b-insertion there (as with free = freebie), OED seems quite happy to say newbie is slang (orig. U.S. Mil.)., attested from the early 70s.

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Of course, it didn't really catch on for decades. If it had been current in 1980, I'd probably have Huey Lewis and the Newbies in my record library! –  FumbleFingers Jan 20 '13 at 3:29
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Its etymology is uncertain. It may derive from "newie", which is attested in U.S. and Australian sources of the 1850s and means a neophyte in a place or situation; alternatively, it may derive from the British public school slang "new boy" or "new blood", which is attributed to the same era and was applied to a schoolboy in his first term.

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There was a reading club/program for american kids back in the 50's and 60's which involved a "noble order of bookworms". Acronyms like RADAR, NASA, and LASER were new and trendy back then, so noob could have easily come into being from the club name. There's not enough evidence available online to say that that actually happened at the time.

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-1 : An interesting theory, but in absence of any evidence linking this to newcomers, the connection seems too thin to constitute a useful answer. –  Lynn Jan 20 '13 at 5:41
    
@Lynn: Doesn't really fit as a comment either. If you'd rather not have the information at all, I can delete it. OTOH, someone w access to full text newspapers from the 50's mght be able to look up club related news, and determine if the acronym existed back then. –  Wayfaring Stranger Jan 20 '13 at 14:04
    
This club seems to have been limited to the environs of Kanawha County, WV. –  Mark Beadles Jan 27 '13 at 17:28
    
@Wayfaring Stranger: I agree with Lynn that it's "too thin" to post as an answer - but it is an interesting aside, so I think it would be a perfectly good comment. –  FumbleFingers Jan 27 '13 at 17:55
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