THE LANGUAGE OF FANDOM
a lot of subcultures, fandom members speak their own vernacular that can sound
utterly impenetrable to outsiders. Since
so much of fandom is online, fandom vocabulary grew out of internet vocabulary;
there is a lot of use of abbreviations, acronyms, and emoticons. This glossary is supposed to be as general
as possible. There are a great many
terms that are specific to individual fandoms; those aren't mentioned here, but
if you should wander into a fandom messageboard sometime, you'll hopefully be
able to use this as a general guide to what the heck people are talking about.
fact that a lot of fandom vocabulary concerns sexual activity or sexual
deviance should not be taken to mean that most fans – or most fanworks – are
perverted. As in real life, slang is
more likely to become attached to things that people prefer to discuss in
Fandoms use acronyms for a lot of things. A few of these will be discussed in detail
in the glossary, but there are also more general categories of acronyms. People posting to a messageboard or talking in
AIM will often save themselves from having to type a title over and over by
abbreviating it: thus 'Harry Potter' is referred to as 'HP', 'Lord of the
Rings' as 'LotR', and 'Pirates of the Carribean' as 'PotC'. Series with many installments may also have
common acronyms for each installment; the original 'Star Trek' series will be
referred to as TOS, 'Next Generation' as TNG, 'Deep Space Nine' as DS9, and so
on. Finally, somebody posting a link to
a piece of fanfiction will often use acronyms to list which romantic
relationships are explored in the piece.
Pairing acronyms take two forms.
They can be single letters or shortened versions of names; for example,
in 'Inuyasha' fandom, IY/KAG marks a story about the relationship between
Inuyasha and Kagome. In Harry Potter
fandom, HP/DM is a story pairing Harry Potter with Draco Malfoy. Or they can combine the names of two
characters; in 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' fandom, a 'Spuffy' story is one that
romantically links Spike and Buffy. A
‘Yukiru’ story in ‘Fruits Basket’ fandom is about Yuki and Tohru as a couple.
- AMV - abbreviation for
'anime music video'. These consist
of a series of clips from an anime series, set to a popular song.
- ANGST - fanfiction dealing
with emotional extremes such as depression and suicide. Also used mockingly to describe
emotional situations in fanfiction that remind the reader of pubescent
- ANIME - Japanese
animation. The term has both a
general and a specific meaning.
Generally, it means any two-dimensional (drawn as opposed to
computer-generated) animated entertainment made in Japan. Specifically, 'an anime' is the set of
episodes of a weekly half-hour television show. There are most often 26 episodes in an anime (one season of
TV time), but some series stretch out to several seasons. Unlike most American TV shows, which
have self-contained episodes that can be viewed in any order, anime
usually (though not always) tell a single overall story.
- AOLESE/AOLER - exaggerated
chatspeak, usually in all capitals, with random abbreviations such as
'OMG' and 'LOL' thrown in for no reason.
The beginning of Hamlet's soliloquy might be rendered in AOLese as:
2 B OR NOT 2 BE TAHT IZ TEH KWESTION OMG WHETHER IT IZ NOBLER IN TEH
MIND 2 SUFFER TEH SLIGNS AND ARROS OF OUTRAJUS 4TUNE OR 2 TAKE ARMS
AGIANTS A C OF TRUBBLES AND BYE OPPOSING ND THEM LOL. Unlike chatspeak or leetspeak, which
are most often used by people who are either lazy or think it makes them
look cool, AOLese is generally used ironically. The name is a tribute to the legendary cluelessness of the
sterotypical AOL customer.
- AU - Alternate
Universe. This acronym labels a
piece of fanfiction occurring in a world based on but slightly different
from that of the source material.
Like most fanfiction, they range from the sublime to the
ridiculous. Examples of Alternate
Universes include a Star Trek story set in a universe ruled by the
Borg, a Lord of the Rings story exploring what might have happened
had Galadriel given in to the temptation of the One Ring and made herself
Dark Empress of Middle Earth, or an Inuyasha story in which the
characters are students in an American high school.
- AVATAR – an image, usually a
hundred pixels square, that a person uses to represent themselves on a
messageboard or weblog, though the weblog versions are generally called
- BADFIC/TROLLFIC - a piece of
fanfiction written to be as bad as possible, either as an attempt to be
funny (rarely successful) or simply to draw flames. 'Badfic' is also used as a general term
for very poor fanfiction.
- BASH - to 'bash' is to
repeatedly insult something just for the sake of insulting it. A 'basher' is the person who does this.
- BETA READER - a person who acts as
an editor for a friend's fanfiction, reading it for content, spelling, and
grammar so that the writer can make any necessary changes before posting
- BISHOUNEN - 'bishounen' is
Japanese for 'beautiful boy'. The
term was originally anime-specific, used to refer to effeminate young men,
but has since expanded to include any good-looking male character, and
sometimes real people. Often
abbreviated ‘bish’. The equivalent
term for beautiful women, though rarely used, is ‘bishoujo’, and both it
and ‘bishounen’ are their own plural.
‘Bish’, however, is pluralized as ‘bishes’.
- BNF – acronym of ‘Big-Name
Fan’. A BNF is a person who is
well known in the fan community, whether for fanfiction, fanart,
maintaining a website, moderating a community, or sometimes just for being
an opinionated loudmouth whom everybody hates. The label carries a certain amount of (often ironic)
prestige, and fans often aspire to ‘BNFhood’ or ‘BNFdom’.
- CANON – a term borrowed from
the Catholic Church, meaning 'established truth'. The definition of ‘canon’ is a bit
vague, but is usually understood to mean the body of works upon which a
fandom is based, and any information contained therein. This is sometimes extended to include
information in guidebooks, interviews, and other such sources. Also used to refer to information from
different versions of a story: for example, the school uniforms in Harry
Potter ‘book-canon’ are different from those in ‘movie-canon’.
RAPE/CANONRAPE/QANONREIP - blatantly disregarding aspects of the source
material in writing a work of fanfiction.
- CATGIRL - a being that usually
resembles a fourteen-year-old girl, but with the ears (and sometimes paws
and tail) of a cat. Can also be
used to mean a young female fan dressed in a cat costume.
- CHAN - fanfiction about
small children in sexual relationships.
- CHIBI - from a Japanese
word. Used to describe characters
drawn with exaggeratedly large heads and eyes, and small, chubby bodies
and limbs, as if they are toddlers or small children.
- CLAIMS - there exist a
variety of communities and websites where people can 'claim' an object,
individual, or concept from a particular fandom... for example, the
livejournal community 'claim_a_hat' allows people to 'claim' hats worn by
characters in various stories, films, and even in real life. In practice, of course, this is
meaningless, but does spark arguments between people who want to 'claim'
the same thing.
- COLORBAR - a livejournal
phenomenon, found often in fandom-related communities. The colorbar was invented by a
livejournal user who decided to show support for gay marriage by posting a
piece of HTML code that showed a rainbow bar and the words 'marriage is
love'. Various imitations sprung
up, and colorbars now exist for all sorts of things. Most consist of six versions of the
same image, though multiple images on a theme are sometimes used, tinted
red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple, above a line stating that
whatever's in the picture 'is love'.
This text is often linked to a page where the person viewing the
colorbar can obtain the code needed to post it in their own journal or on
their own website.
- CON - short for
- CONCRIT - short for
‘constructive criticism’; helpful advice given to a writer or artist about
how they could improve their work.
Often interpreted as flaming by authors who do not wish to improve.
- COSPLAY - short for 'costume
play', a 'cosplayer' is somebody who dresses up as a character from their
fandom. The term originated in
Japan and was originally anime-specific, but has moved into wider use, and
is both a noun and a verb: a cosplay is the costume itself, or the event
at which it is worn. 'Cosplaying'
somebody is shorthand for 'dressing up as' that individual.
- CROSSCAST - inserting characters
from one story into the (otherwise unaltered) plot or situation of
another. Crosscasting makes for some
amusing fanart, but crosscast fanfiction generally grows tiresome very
- CROSSOVER - a piece of fanart or
fanfiction in which characters from two different sets of source material
meet. Crossovers tend to be either
very good or excruciatingly bad, depending on how plausibly the writer
handles the connection between the two universes. A crossover in which Buffy the Vampire
Slayer teams up with Blade against their common foe could be very good -
the scenarios have much in common and are easy to link. A story in which the cast of Bishoujo
Senshi Sailormoon travel to another galaxy to assist Luke Skywalker in
overthrowing the Galactic Empire is likely to be painful.
- DDR - acronym for Dance
Dance Revolution, a popular Japanese arcade game. Players have to step in particular
places on a floor mat in time with fast-paced music. Characters playing DDR are a popular
subject for fanart.
- DEAD or DED - an individual on a
messageboard or mailing list will often say they are 'dead' after hearing
something they found particularly funny, surprising, or appalling. The statement should not be taken
literally. It is often phrased as
'dead from funny', or 'dead from badfic' - this wording is taken from a
messageboard post in which a woman described a former lover who had died
as a result of cocaine abuse as being 'dead from coke'; people thought
this wording was funny, and the phrase went on to acquire a life of its
own. ‘Ded’ is an intentional
misspelling of the AOLese variety.
- DLDR - an acronym for 'don't
like, don't read', often trotted out as an answer to concrit or
flaming. A person who uses it to
apply to a genre of fanfiction that the reviewer claims to dislike: eg, in
answer to a complaint that the writer's work contains nothing but slash,
is usually considered to be in the right.
A person who answers valid criticism, such as complaints about
their spelling or a clichéd plotline, by saying DLDR will probably be made
- DOUJINSHI/DOUJIN - a Japanese word for
fanfiction in the form of comic books.
The publishing and sale of these is legal in Japan, and they can
often be purchased at conventions and on Ebay.
- DREAMCAST - a list of actors and
actresses a fan would hire to play the characters in a movie based on a
favourite book, or the live-action version of material that was originally
animated. Usually assumes
unlimited funding. The term has
fallen out of frequent use since Sony chose 'dreamcast' as the name for their
video game system.
- DUB - used as a noun. The 'dub' of an anime is a version in
which the Japanese dialogue has been re-recorded in English. Dubs are often considered as inferior
to the original Japanese. This is
sometimes true, but not always.
- EBERT'S LAW - Ebert's Law, named
for Roger Ebert the film critic, states that somebody does not need to be
good at something to know when other people are very bad at it. A person who answers criticism of their
fanfiction or fanart with, "well, let's see you do better!" will
be told that they have broken Ebert's Law.
- ELITIST – a person who
considers him or herself and his or her friends ‘better’ fans than anyone
else. They may form a special
messageboard or chatroom where only ‘good’ or ‘true’ fans are allowed to
participate. Are generally mocked
behind their backs as pseudo-intellectual wannabes.
- EYESPORKING - an adjective used to
emphasize that something, usually fanfiction, is particularly
terrible. 'Eyesporkingly bad' is
about the worse insult an author can receive. The word is used to imply that the piece is so awful the
reader wanted to dig out his or her own eyeballs with a spork (a
combination spoon and fork) so that he or she would not have to look at it
anymore. As far as anyone has ever
determined, the term arose because sporks are exactly the right shape and
size for the job, though it's unlikely anybody has ever really tried to
use them that way.
- FANART - a drawing of
characters, objects, or situations from a piece of work the artist
admires. Where the original piece
is in a visual medium, such as a comic book or animated movie, the
fanartist will usually attempt to match the original art style.
- FANBOY - a particularly geeky
or obsessive male fan, usually of some stereotypically 'boyish' medium
such as comic books.
- FANDOM - the entire community
of fans devoted to a particular person or work.
- FANFICTION - fanfiction is
writing that uses characters or situations from a piece of work the artist
admires. The term is often
abbreviated to ‘fanfic’ or just ‘fic’.
Fanfiction – and fanart – exist in something of a legal gray area;
while the authors almost never earn money from this hobby, fanfiction is
still a use without permission of somebody else’s creation, and it is
considered polite to preface a piece with a short disclaimer disavowing
all claim to the source material.
Some authors, such as Anne Rice and Anne McCaffrey, disapprove of
fanfiction or allow it only under certain conditions. In such cases it is considered polite
to honour their requests.
- FANGIRL - a particularly
obsessive female fan. The term is
used especially for female fans of a particular attractive male character
or celebrity, and implies that the women or girls in question are not
interested in anything about the object of their adulation except for his
sex appeal. Often used as an
- FANGIRL JAPANESE - the practice of
inserting random Japanese words or phrases into anime fanfiction or
everyday conversation, especially if the terms are used incorrectly. This can be done to give a Japanese
flavour to writing set in that country, or simply for the sake of showing
off the author's Japanese vocabulary.
Fangirl Japanese is generally frowned upon and most authors try to
avoid it. Using fangirl Japanese
in a story based on non-Japanese material, for example, having a
non-Japanese character in a piece of Harry Potter fanfiction say
'arigatou' instead of 'thank you', is considered the fanfic equivalent of
a mortal sin. The phrase can be
generalized to other languages; an author using random words of French
will be accused of 'fangirl French'.
People who write Lord of the Rings fanfiction are
occasionally guilty of 'fangirl Elvish'.
- FANON - a pun on
'canon'. Concepts that are not
explicitly stated, or perhaps not touched on at all, by the source
material, but nevertheless accepted as true by most of the fandom, are
called 'fanon'. For example, a
significant part of the Harry Potter fandom accepts as more or less
factual the idea that Sirius Black and Remus Lupin were at some point
homosexual lovers. The faction
that believes this spends a great deal of time arguing vehemently with the
faction that doesn't.
- FANPOODLE - a fangirl, only more
- FANSUBS - episodes of anime,
usually available for download via services such as WinMX or Bittorrent,
that have been translated and subtitled by bilingual fans living in the
Far East. These are usually
available within hours of the episodes actually airing. Both the picture quality and the
accuracy of the translations vary enormously, but many 'purist' fans
prefer fansubs to commercially available versions. Fansubs exist in the same dimension of murky
illegality inhabited by MP3’s.
- FANZINE/ZINE - a collection of
fanworks, usually fanfiction, published in the form of an amateur
magazine. Issues are usually
available only to the members of a club.
Before the internet, zines were the only medium in which fanfiction
could be shared, and many older fans reminisce about the era of zines as a
golden age of quality control.
- FAQ - acronym for
'frequently asked questions'. Many
websites and communities have an FAQ page to answer the questions most
commonly asked by new members.
- FILK – poetry, often
humorous, in the form of lyrics that can be sung to the tune of a popular
song. Weird Al Yankovic makes his
living at this.
- FILLER - installments in a
serial that fill time without contributing to the overall plot.
- FLAME - used as both a noun
and a verb. A 'flame' is an insult
or a stream of vitriol. ‘To flame’
is to post such things. A 'flamer'
is the person doing the flaming.
- FLUFF - fanfiction or fanart
that does not have much of a plot or point and/or does not deal with dark
- FURRY - can be used as an
adjective or noun. Something is
'furry' if it pertains to anthropomorphic animals; art, stories, comics,
costumes, and many other things can be 'furry'. A 'furry' is a person who either roleplays as or claims to
be such a creature. People in the
latter category are usually considered a bit crazy and are often accused
- GEN/GENFIC - fanfiction that does
not deal with romantic or sexual relationships.
- GIP – acronym for
‘gratuitous icon post’. A GIP is a
post by somebody who doesn’t actually have anything to contribute to the
conversation, but wants to show off a relevant avatar or icon.
- GODWIN'S LAW - in its original
form, Godwin's Law stated that the longer an online argument continues,
the more likely it is that somebody on one side will compare the people on
the other side to Hitler or the Nazi regime. As it's usually used, however, Godwin's Law is the statement
that the person who makes this comparison has just lost the argument via
massive overreaction. This
individual is referred to as having either 'invoked' or 'broken' Godwin's
Law, although the latter wording really doesn't make much sense.
- GUSH - gushing is the
opposite of bashing - a gusher absolutely loves and praises something and
will go on about it until everybody else is sick of listening to
them. The term is not used as
often as 'bash', probably because gushers are somewhat less annoying.
- HEALING COCK - a piece of
fanfiction in which love and/or sex is presented as a magical cure for all
of a woman's (or a homosexual man's) troubles. The term is taken from the title of an article making fun of
the cliché in The Onion: Come Bathe in the Healing Light of my
- HENTAI - a Japanese adjective
meaning 'perverted'. Used as both
a noun and an adjective, mostly in anime fandoms: 'hentai' is any sexually
explicit material, be it fanfiction, manga, animation, etc. A person is ‘a hentai' when he (almost
always he) is lecherous or perverted.
And something is described as 'hentai' when it is sexually explicit
or sexually deviant.
- HET - short for
'heterosexual'. A 'het' fic is one
that explores romantic or sexual relationships between members of the
- HSAU - acronym for 'high
school alternate universe', referring to fanfiction or fanart depicting
characters as American high school students. High School AU's are much, much more common than they
deserve to be.
- HURT/COMFORT - a term used to
describe a piece of fanfiction in which a character is physically or
emotionally abused, then nursed back to health by his or her True
Love. These are often Healing Cock
- IAWTC – acronym for ‘I agree
with that comment.’
- IC - acronym for 'in
character'. Can mean either a post
made to a roleplaying messageboard or mailing list as the character a
person is playing, or that a character in a piece of fanfiction or fanart
is behaving in a way appropriate to his or her personality.
- IIRC – acronym for ‘if I
- IMHO – acronym for ‘in my
- INTERNETS/INTARWEB – intentional mistakes
in writing ‘internet’, used sarcastically in a ‘like the internet, but for
stupid people’ sort of way. I
believe both terms come from quotes by George W. Bush.
- JAPANAMATION - a synonym for
'anime'. 'Japanamation' is not often
used and is considered degrading by many anime fans.
- LEET/1337 – a short form of
‘elite’. Used to mean ‘exclusive’
or ‘extra-special’. Also used as
an abbreviation of ‘leetspeak/13375p34k’.
- LEETSPEAK/13375P34K/HAXXOR - a method of typing
that substitutes numbers or symbols for letters in such a way that the
result is still understandable if the reader puts some effort into
it. The opening lines of 'Richard
III' could be rendered in leetspeak as follows: |\|0\/\/ 15 +|-|3
\/\/1|\|+3R 0|= 0|_|R |)15(0|\|+3|\|+ |\/|4|)3 6|_0R10|_|5 5|_||\/||\/|3R
|3Y +|-|15 50|\| 0|= Y0R|<.
Leetspeak was invented as a way of keeping anyone from casually
looking over a hacker's shoulder and reading what they were typing, and
then popularized by the webcomic Megatokyo. Like chatspeak, it is often used
- LEMON - an explicit sex
scene in fanfiction. The term
refers to a pornographic anime called Cream Lemon.
- LOL - an acronym for
'laughing out loud', used either as a response to a funny comment or to
clarify that what the poster is saying is not meant seriously. Generally, if a joke requires an LOL
after it, it's not a very good joke.
Sometimes written as ‘LOLLERSKATES’, for absolutely no reason than
anyone intelligent has ever been able to discern. Anybody using this form is advised not
to expect their audience to take them seriously.
- LURKER - somebody who reads a
messageboard or mailing list, or watches the goings-on in a chatroom, but
does not contribute to the discussion.
Many people will ‘lurk’ in a community for some time to learn what
is considered acceptable behavior before they introduce themselves.
- MANGA - Japanese comic
books. Unlike most of their
American counterparts, manga are published in black and white. They are similar to anime in that most
tell a story that must be read in a particular order for it to be properly
- MARY-SUE - 'Mary-Sue' is a
difficult term to define precisely.
She (almost always she) is a character created by a fanfiction
author to star in one of their stories, and everything in the piece
revolves around the Mary-Sue. She
tends to be perfectly beautiful, outstandingly talented, and to be related
to and/or romantically involved with canon characters in the piece. A Mary-Sue for, say, a Lord of the
Rings fanfic might be Galadriel's beautiful daughter Alphwen, who is
the most accomplished archer of the third age and marries Legolas at the
end of the story. A Mary-Sue in a Sailormoon
story could be Sailor Asteroid Belt, who is Tuxedo Mask's long-lost twin
sister Sakura, raised as Queen Beryl's henchwoman but brought back to the
good side by the true friendship of the Sailor Scouts. Stories featuring such characters are
also called ‘Mary-Sues’. The term
is taken from a piece of Star Trek fanfiction that made fun of the
cliché via a character with that name.
Often abbreviated as ‘MS’, or just ‘Sue’.
- MARTY-STU/GARY-STU/WESLEY - a male Mary-Sue is
generally called either a Marty-Stu or a Gary-Stu. A less common term is a 'Wesley', in
reference to Wesley Crusher from Star Trek; the Next Generation.
- MEME - a blogging
phenomenon often found associated with fandom. A 'meme' is a little form a person can fill out on a website
that will give them some result like, 'which type of coffee most closely
fits your personality?' or 'which Sailor Scout are you most like?'. The person filling out the form is
given a few lines of code that he or she may post in his or her journal or
website, which displays the result and offers a link for other people to
fill out the form themselves. Alternatively,
a meme can be a line of ‘meaningful’ text or a questionnaire, also posted
in a weblog. 'Meme Theory' is the
idea that pieces of information, such as good ideas or catchy tunes,
propagate through a population much like a virus does; weblog memes do
something very similar.
- MOD - short for
'moderator'. The mod is the person
in charge of an archive or community.
- MPREG - short for 'male
pregnancy'. This tag is used to
mark fanfiction about men becoming pregnant. Such stories are surprisingly common in many fandoms. The reader is often asked to take the
idea that a man can bear a child on faith - which is really nothing to
complain about, since stories that do attempt to explain how such a thing
is possible generally commit unpardonable sins against basic biology. The equivalent term for a pair of
female lovers somehow conceiving a child is 'femmepreg'.
- MST/MST3K - short for Mystery
Science Theatre 3000, the title of a TV show in which an evil
mastermind attempted to drive a man and a group of robots insane by
forcing them to watch terrible science fiction movies. To preserve their sanity, the group
heckled the movies mercilessly.
The concept has been appropriated by writers of fanfiction, who
will go through a fanfic they disliked line by line and add their own
commentary. MSTs are sometimes
funny, but more often mean and tiresome, and many fanfiction archives do
not accept them. It is considered
unpardonably rude to MST somebody's fanfic without the author’s permission.
- -NAZI - used as a suffix
when referring to a person who is obsessive about some particular aspect
of fanfiction. People who are anal
about proper use of the English language will be referred to as
'grammar-nazis', those who nitpick deviations from the source material are
'canon-nazis', et cetera. The term
was originally an insult, but many of the so-called nazis in question have
taken it up with pride.
- NETSPEAK/CHATSPEAK - typing using a lot
of abbreviations and shorthand, and little or no attention to punctuation
or proper spelling. The opening of
Juliet's balcony speech might be rendered in netspeak as follows: romeo
o romeo, where4 r u romeo? deny ur
dad + refus ur name, r if u will not b but sworn my luv, + il no longer b
a capulet. Netspeak is usually
considered acceptable in chatrooms and over instant messaging programs,
but messageboards and mailing lists expect their members to use proper
English. Netspeak in fanfiction is
- NEWBIE - somebody new to a
- NOT-BOB - a troll with a
grudge against a particular person or community. Such an individual usually remains anonymous, choosing a
screen name or member ID that identifies how much they hate their target. The original Not-Bob appeared on Pottersues,
a livejournal community dedicated to the heckling of Mary-Sues in 'Harry
Potter' fanfiction, claiming to be a friend of the person who had written
that day's feature. The members of
the community asked if she were the same person who'd earlier said she was
the author's friend 'Bob', and were told that she was not. Not-Bob joined the group under the name
'antipottersues' and proclaimed that she had a secret plan for the
destruction of the community. She
hung around for a few weeks insulting everybody, then eventually vanished
without having accomplished anything.
- OH NOES! – a sarcastic
statement, used to indicate that the person doing the panicking is blowing
something all out of proportion.
- OMG - acronym for 'oh, my
god!' Used as an exclamation of
- OMGWTFBBQ - a combination of
'oh, my god!', 'what the fuck..?', and 'barbeque'. If the inclusion of the last makes no
sense, that's because it's not supposed to. The phrase was originally a parody of AOLese, but came to be
used as an exclamation of surprise at something particularly odd. It translates roughly as, 'wow, that is
really, really screwed up!'
- OOC - acronym for 'out of
character'. It can mean either a
post to a roleplaying group that is 'spoken' by the player rather than the
character, or that a character in a piece of fanfiction is doing something
at odds with the way the reader expected them to behave, based on their
personality as presented by the source material.
- OP - acronym for
'original poster'. The OP is the
person who begins a particular discussion on a messageboard or mailing
- O RLY? – acronym for ‘oh,
really?’ Generally used
sarcastically, to belittle somebody’s statement. Another poster will almost always reply with YA RLY (yeah,
really!), and various versions of the conversation, with as few vowels as
possible, go from there. Nobody is
quite sure where the joke came from, but it was popularized as the caption
on a livejournal avatar featuring a rather funny photograph of a snowy
- OT - acronym for 'off-topic'. A post that is not relevant to the
stated topic of a messageboard or mailing list will be labeled OT.
- OTAKU - from the Japanese
word for 'house'. In Japan, the
word means roughly the same as 'geek' or 'nerd', and the English-speaking
world has appropriated it to mean 'anime fan'. The term has fallen out of favour due to its having negative
connotations in Japanese; when a Japanese-speaking person calls somebody
an 'otaku', they mean that this individual has no life outside his or her
obsessions. It can be considered
the far-eastern equivalent of ‘thirty-year-old fat guy who plays video
games in his mom’s basement all day’.
- OTP - acronym for 'One
True Pairing'. A fan's OTP is what
that person considers to be the only possible relationship possible for a
given set of characters. Often
used sarcastically. An 'OT3' is a
'One True Threesome'. The term has
come into more general use as meaning simply, ‘favourite pairing’.
- PAIRING - two characters in a
romantic and/or sexual relationship.
Many fans choose which fanfiction they read based exclusively on
what pairings it explores.
- PASTEDE ON YAY - an adjective meaning
something is false or overblown.
If a fan claims to be an award-winning writer when the quality of
his or her fanworks makes this extremely unlikely, somebody make remark
that his or her 'award iz pastede on yay!' The term arose out of discussion of a photograph, which the
fan who’d taken it claimed showed Dominic Moneghan visiting her home. Closer inspection showed that the
picture was in fact two seperate images: a photograph of the actor's face
had been digitally laid over one of a different person sitting in a
bedroom. A member of the
messageboard commented, with intentional misspellings, that the picture
could be captioned "my hed iz pastede on yay!"
- PHEAR/PH34R - intentional
misspelling of ‘fear’. Used to
indicate that something - usually a concept, but sometimes a website, news
story, etc - is particularly odd or ought to inspire mortal terror.
- PIC - an abbreviation for
'picture', used as a short form of 'fanart' because it rhymes with 'fic'
as the abbreviation for 'fanfiction'.
- PIT OF VOLES - the archive site
fanfiction.net. The term was
coined by a fan who sought to emphasize the overwhelming quantity of very
bad fanfiction in that archive.
- PLOT BUNNY - an idea for the
beginning (or middle, or end - some fragment, in isolation) of a story,
generally occurring to an author in a flash of inspiration and then
leaving him or her to work out the rest of the plotline by the hard away. The number of plotbunnies an author
conceives of is usually inversely proportional to the time he or she has
available to write.
- PPC - an acronym for
'Protectors of the Plot Continuum', a group that heckles pieces of bad
fanfiction by rewriting the endings.
- PRON/PR0N - intentional
misspelling of 'porn', used to refer to pornographic fanfiction or fanart
without being filtered by net nanny programs.
- PWNED - purposeful
misspelling of 'owned'. Used as a
synonym for 'defeated'; a person who makes a particularly clever or
hurtful remark in an argument has 'pwned' their opponent, as has one who
beat another player at a video game.
- PWP - acronym of
'Pornography Without Plot' or 'Plot?
What Plot?' Refers to a
piece the only purpose of which is to be smut.
- R&R - an acronym for 'Read
and Review'. This was originally
used to mark pieces of fanfiction for which the author wants constructive
criticism, but is now more often taken to mean that the author only wants
to be flattered.
- RAPEFIC - a piece of
fanfiction in which one character rapes another.
- RL - acronym for 'real
- ROUND ROBIN - a piece of
fanfiction to which each of several authors contributes a segment in turn.
- RP - an acronym for 'role
play'. Used as a noun and a verb.
- RPF/RPS - acronyms for 'real person
fanfiction' and 'real person slash'.
RPF are stories involving celebrities such as actors, singers, or
figures from sports or politics.
Many fans consider RPF to be in extremely bad taste, especially
when the stories have sexual content, though exceptions can be made for
historical figures (provided they’ve been dead at least fifty to a hundred
years) and in cases such as boy bands, where the individuals’
personalities are obviously just a front by their PR people.
- SD - acronym of
'super-deformed'. Used to refer to
drawings that are extremely chibi.
- SEIYUU/VA - 'VA' is an acronym
for 'voice actor', and 'seiyuu' is the Japanese equivalent of the
term. Both mean a person who
contributes the voice of an animated character. In anime, the actors who provide the voices in the original
Japanese are called 'seiyuu', while the ones who provide the voices for
the English dub are 'VAs'.
- SEME - from a Japanese
word. The seme is the 'dominant'
member of a homosexual relationship.
In smut terms, the seme is the one doing the penetrating.
- SHIP/SHIPPING/SHIPPY - from 'relationship'
or 'worship'. Ship is both a noun
and a verb - a 'ship' is a pair of characters in a romantic and/or sexual
relationship. To 'ship' those
characters is to be interested in their relationship.
- SHOUJO and SHOUNEN - broad categories of
anime and manga, which can be thought of as targeted for girls (shoujo)
and boys (shounen). Although there
is a great deal of variation, shoujo anime and manga tend to deal with
characters and relationships, while shounen are more adventure stories.
- SHOUNEN-AI - this term literally
means 'boy love' in Japanese, and is used to refer to non-explicit
fanfiction or fanart dealing with homosexual relationships between two
men. The equivalent term for
female characters is shoujo-ai.
- SHRINE - a website, often
only one page, devoted to a work or a character. Shrines usually contain little by way of information, but
are simply a small valentine from the fan to something they love.
- SI - acronym for
'self-insertion'. A piece of
fanfiction is SI if there is a character in it who is explicitly supposed
to be the author having entered the world of the story. Such stories are usually godawful and
serve as nothing more than ego-trips for the writer. Mary-Sues and Gary-Stus are often
referred to as ‘badly-disguised SI’, meaning that the character the author
wishes he or she were has entered the story.
- SLASH - fanfiction or fanart
dealing with homosexual relationships, usually between men. The term comes from the notation used
to indicate the pairing, eg: Kirk/Spock, Frodo/Sam, etc. By convention, the first name listed is
the 'dominant' member of the relationship. 'Slash' is used as both a noun and a verb: to 'slash' a pair
of characters is to write erotic fanfiction about them. An author who writes such pieces is
called a 'slasher' (not to be confused with 'slasher' as in 'mass
murderer'). Source material is
described as 'slashy' if the characters behave in a way that can be
interpreted as homosexual romantic tension. The adjective 'slashy' can also apply to such behavior: eg,
a Lord of the Rings fan might say that Pippin keeps giving Merry
"slashy looks". The
equivalent term for pairs of female characters is 'femmeslash'.
- SNACKY'S LAW - similar to Godwin's
law, but instead of the nazis, the comparison that loses the argument is
to say that the other person is just like 'those girls who were mean to me
in high school'.
- SNUFF - a piece of
fanfiction that exists simply so that the author may kill off a character
he or she does not like. Snuff
fics are generally considered juvenile and petty.
- SOCKPUPPET - can be a noun or a
verb: a person advocating an unpopular opinion, posting under several
names in order to convince other members of a community that he or she has
a great deal of support is sockpuppeting.
A sockpuppet account is a membership to a messageboard or mailing
list created as an alternative identity for the puppeteer.
- SONGFIC - a piece of
fanfiction written around the lyrics of a song the author considers meaningful. The 'plot' of such a story usually
consists of a character either listening to the song or writing it out as
a poem and thinking about how much it means to them. The fics are usually about as terrible
as that description makes them sound.
- SPESHUL - a misspelling of
'special', used to describe something or someone particularly stupid...
especially if the someone under discussion is forever crowing their own
genius. The term refers to primary
school teachers who tell their classes that the mentally disabled child is
‘special’ rather than ‘retarded’.
- SPORK - a verb; a piece of
fanfiction is 'sporked' when a critique of it is posted to a messageboard
or mailing list dedicated to mockery of bad fanworks.
- SQUICK - a noun, verb, or
adjective. Something 'squicky' is
'disgusting'. A person's 'squicks'
are things they personally find distasteful. Somebody is 'squicked' when they are absolutely revolted. The term is often said to have come
from a word meaning ‘to masturbate by inserting one’s penis between the
halves of a human brain’, but this is probably not true.
- STFU - acronym for 'shut
the fuck up'. Used to mean that
the poster has absolutely had it with the addressee.
- SUB - a noun; the 'sub' of
an anime is a version with the soundtrack in Japanese, and subtitles to
translate each line. Purist fans
often insist on subs; extreme purists watch only fansubs.
- SUETHOR - an author who writes
- TACO SHOW – a piece of
fanfiction in which a male character is transformed into a female one, for
the sake of humour and/or turning a slash relationship into a het one (or
vice-versa). Taco Shows have a
reputation for being revoltingly sexist.
One of the more peculiar entries on this list, the term was taken
from a Harry Potter fic in which Remus Lupin, about to be
transformed into a woman, complains that he ‘grew up with a magic stick,
not a taco show’ – ‘taco show’ may or may not be a mistake on the author’s
part for ‘taco shell’. The term
has also come into limited use as a euphemism for such a character’s
vagina, or for vaginae in general, and to refer to gender-swapped
AU’s. The opposite scenario, in
which a female character is transformed into a male, is of course called a
- TENTACLE HENTAI - works (fan or
otherwise) featuring female characters being sexually abused by monsters
with many octopus-like limbs.
‘Tentacle hentai’ or ‘tentacle pr0n’ is generally considered to be
about as screwed-up as material can possibly get.
- THREAD - all the replies (and
replies to replies) to the original statement that started a messageboard
or mailing list discussion.
- TINHAT - a person so
convinced of their pet theory that they will not listen to anyone
suggesting otherwise. The term comes
from the joke about conspiracy theorists wearing tinfoil skullcaps to keep
out the evil mind control waves.
- TL;DR – an acronym for ‘too
long; didn’t read’. Used in
response to particularly verbose messageboard entries, as a way of
reminding the poster that brevity is the soul of wit.
- TOSED - 'TOS' is an acronym
for 'Terms of Service'. Most
online communities have a set of rules members must obey. When a member is made to leave the
community because of violating the terms of service, other members will
say that the person got TOSed.
- TROLL - a noun or a
verb. A 'troll' is a person who
joins a community in order to start a fight. To 'troll' is to post purposefully inflammatory material in
the attempt to provoke people.
- TWINCEST - fanfiction in which
a pair of twins are in a sexual relationship with one another. Those who do not read or write it tend
to consider twincest the ultimate low in taboo-breaking for the sake of
- TWS - an acronym for
'train wreck syndrome'. Used to
refer to things that are fascinating and horrifying at the same time, such
as Twincest and MPreg.
- UKE - from a Japanese
word. The 'uke' is the submissive
one in a homosexual relationship.
In smut terms, the uke is the one being penetrated.
- -VERSE - a suffix used to
indicate the universe in which the events of a narrative take place. EG: the Harry Potter stories
occur in the 'potterverse', Godzilla movies happen in the
'Godzillaverse'. This phrasing
will usually not be used if the world of the story already has a name (EG:
Xanth, Middle Earth, etc), or if it does not have rules obviously
different from those of real life (there is no '-verse' in fandoms such as
Newsies or Holes).
If there are multiple versions of the source material, '-verse'
will also be used to indicate which one a piece of fanfiction is based
on. EG: Slayers has a
'novelverse', a 'mangaverse', and an 'animeverse' that each present a
slightly different version of the story.
- WAFF - acronym for 'Warm
And Fuzzy Feeling'. This is used
to mark fanfiction focusing on friendship and romance in a strictly
positive light. Such works are
described as 'WAFFy'.
- WANK - from a slang term
meaning 'to masturbate'. The word
is used to refer to all kinds of ridiculous behavior on the part of fans,
including attention-whoring, ego-stroking, obsessive behavior, violent
argument over trivial details, and just about anything else that seems
reasonable to the participants but absurd to the onlookers. The people participating in such behavior
are called 'wankers', and are said to have 'wanked'. If the discussion is reported to the
journalfen community fandom_wank, the incident is said to have been
'Wanked' with a capital W.
Denizens of fandom_wank are 'wankas' as opposed to 'wankers'.
- WAPANESE – from a combination
of the words ‘white’ and ‘Japanese’, this is a Caucasian person who
imitates, usually in ludicrous fashion, certain aspects of Japanese
culture. Gwen Stefani is
considered the archetypal example.
- WINGFIC - a rather bizarre
subset of fanfiction in which characters suddenly and inexplicably sprout
angel wings. For some reason, this
is particularly popular in fics about the actors from Peter Jackson’s The
Lord of the Rings trilogy.
- WIN THE INTERNET/S – do or say something
particularly witty, ‘pwn’ somebody in particularly dramatic fashion. Comes from the reminder, which must be
made distressingly often, that it is impossible to ‘win’ at the internet
or ‘win’ at fandom. I do not know
when or why the ‘at’ was dropped from the phrase.
- WTF - acronym for 'what
the fuck'. Used as a shorthand for
questions such as "what is this person talking about?" or
"what is going on?", but usually only when said questions are
not meant to be answered - the person speaking is expressing his or her
confusion, not looking for an explanation
- YAOI – pronounced ‘yow-ee’,
not ‘yah-oy’. An acronym for a
Japanese phrase that translates as 'no climax, no resolution', and used as
equivalent to 'slash'. 'Yaoi'
tends to be the more popular term in anime fandoms, whereas 'slash' is
used elsewhere, but the two are basically interchangeable. The 'no climax, no resolution' refers
to the plotless nature of a lot of slash.
An oft-quoted fact is that 'YA.O.I.' can also stand for a Japanese
phrase that means, 'stop! My ass
hurts!' The equivalent phrase for
femmeslash is 'yuri', which was the name of a female homosexual in the
anime Dirty Pair.
- ! - exclamation points
are often used as a shorthand when assigning something - usually a
character in fanfiction - to a broad category. A person complaining about an author's characterization of
Professor Snape might say that they dislike stories featuring
"warmfuzzy!Snape" and prefer those with
who read a lot of Harry Potter fanfiction featuring Professor Snape
will be familiar with the ways his character is typically treated, so
saying "warmfuzzy!Snape" suggests to them an entire category of
personality trains that are generally assigned to the Professor
together. This shorthand is also
used to differentiate between versions of characters from different
incarnations of a story: a discussion on a Fruits Basket
messageboard might debate the differences between "manga!Akito"
and "anime!Akito", this being quicker to type than "Akito
as characterized in the manga" and "Akito as characterized in