In today's xckd, we see the magic passphrase "shibboleet."

I'd never heard of this word before, but when I saw mention of the 1990s, I figured it had to be a portmanteau of "shibboleth" and "leet" (or 1337 as it were), where leet is a shortened form of "elite" - a (now tongue-in-cheek) catchphrase for a hacker, programmer or engineer who is among the best of the best at a given skill.

The word shibboleth comes from a Hebrew word that was difficult for non-Hebrew-speakers to pronounce properly. At one point in history, Hebrews used this word to weed out Ephraimite impostors. This day and age, a shibboleth is any defining trait or practice that's inherent to a given culture, but particularly one that is used as a cultural indicator. We naturally use shibboleths frequently in the form of inside jokes, lexical idiosyncrasies and even our fashion.

That makes today's xkcd particularly meta.

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