Pwn is a variant of "own" which is used as a verb in gaming tough talk. "I will own you" means the "I" will wreak humiliating defeat upon the "you" in the sentence. "Pwn" has more stringent connotations than just "own" and may be described as "wreaking extremely humiliating defeat" instead of just plain old "humiliating defeat."
While no single usage of the term can be definitively identified as the original source, it most likely arose and spread naturally from a misspelling of the word "own", arising from the proximity of the 'p' and 'o' keys on a standard English keyboard. However, it has been claimed by many gamers that the origin of the word comes from the PC game "Warcraft II Tides of Darkness" where a programming error results in the message "You have been pwned." When the player gets defeated by a CPU controlled opponent, the correct message should have been "You have been owned." This phrase would soon become an internet icon for online gamers across the globe. (Wikipedia)My husband has also heard a theory that pwn comes from Counterstrike players and is an abbreviation of "pistol-owned," because pistols are the weakest weapon in that game, and to be owned by one would be pretty humiliating.
It is generally accepted that "pwn" is pronounced "pone." (Rhyming with "phone" or "clone.")
Non-Southerner's Guide to This Post
My mom has a chicken and dressing recipe that includes "half a pone of cornbread."
A pone, according to my mother, is the whole of a round cornbread cake baked in a skillet. It can be used as a noun in place of the word "cornbread," and it can be singular or plural with the attached "s" where cornbread cannot. For example, you may have a pone, two pones, or ten pones, but you may have one pone of cornbread, two pones of cornbread, and you may eat a heap of cornbread. You may have "cornbread" for dinner, but not "cornbreads" because that's just silly.
Cornbread is "a staple of Southern U.S. cuisine" and "a popular item in soul food enjoyed by many people for its texture and scent. Cornbread can be baked, fried or, rarely, steamed. Steamed cornbreads are mushy, chewier and more akin to cornmeal pudding than what most consider to be traditional cornbread" (Wikipedia).
My daddy eats his cornbread crumbled into a tall glass of buttermilk. Thus, the post title.
All of that to say this: Every time I see the word "pwn," I think, "Cornbread?"
So you can see why I might find "pwn" to be a little ridiculous as a word in general. I knew what a cornbread pone was before I ever even heard of Warcraft. I'm afraid "pone" pwns "pwn" for me.