Fandom terminology

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We use cookies and other tracking technologies to improve your browsing experience on our site, show personalized content and targetedanalyze site traffic, and understand where our audiences come from. To learn more or opt-out, read our Cookie Policy. This article is part of a series on fan culture and its many related topics. Imagine that two of your co-workers — likely but not necessarily or something women — are talking about that thing you like. Let's say it's The CW's Arrow -verse.

You walk over to their conversation, but they appear to be speaking in foreign tongues:. I can't deal with all the ship wars in that fandom, though. I'm mostly there for the meta. If you followed the entirety of that hypothetical chat, congratulations: You're a dyed-in-the-wool member of fandom and probably a fan of DC Comics' fictional television universe. You know that these two fangirls are engaged in a complicated rundown of numerous complex relationships both on the TV show itself and within the community of fans that has sprung up around fandom terminology show.

But to most of us, fandom jargon — what we might call fanspeak — is a world unto itself. Because fandom has so many internalized special definitions and linguistics, it can often seem impenetrable, especially to a newcomer or outsider. That's why we've compiled a basic glossary of the most common terms and concepts you'll see in fandom culture. Soon you'll be talking the talk and feeling the feels alongside your fellow fans — or at least you'll be able to understand what the fan in your life is talking about.

A fandom is simply a community of fans, be fandom terminology online or off, active or passive. The word "fandom" is both a collective noun, describing many fandoms and subfandoms as one giant body of fans, and a singular one referring to a single fandom. The earliest known print usage of the term comes from an Washington Post sports column describing "local fandom. The idea of fandom grew hand in hand with the rise of male-dominated science fiction fandom in the early 20th century, which mostly centered on books and short stories.

It wasn't until the '60s and '70s that women began forming fandom spaces for themselves, mainly focused on sci-fi and genre television. These spaces have largely evolved into what constitutes "fandom" on the internet today: communities of fans focused on creating fanworks, as well as on actively consuming media in a collaborative digital social environment. Fandom is vast and huge, and it's anything but monolithic. Many fans will often distinguish between several hugely different fan cultures: sports fandom, which is its own cultural juggernaut; traditional sci-fi and fantasy fandom, a descendent of its earlyth-century beginnings; pop music and celebrity fandom, which tends to congregate heavily on mainstream social media spaces think Beliebers, the Beyhive, Swifties, Directioners, and other countless fan bases that focus on specific performers ; and online, female-dominated, fanworks-based fandom.

In most fanworks-based communities, you are generally assumed to be female unless you say otherwise. It's important to distinguish between these vastly different corners of fandom because they aren't all in conversation with one another — and when they are, they often approach the conversation very differently. There's a lot of special jargon associated with fanfiction, and with the practice of "shipping," mainly because the vast majority of fanfic involves shipping to some degree. So fandom language often focuses on identifying what kind of fic is being written and who's being shipped with whom.

There are countless fanfiction archives in existence, like the massive wealth of fic at sites like AsianFanficsinnumerable tiny forums for individual fandoms, and blog sites like LiveJournal, Tumblr, and Dreamwidth. Most fanfiction archives tend to be for-profit or ad-supported models. Currently, there are three especially predominant archives:. As these terms make clear, fandom is a complicated beast full of nuance, evolving language, and introspection about fandom terminology from why we fall in love with fictional characters to the need for diversity and progressive representation in media.

It's also full of surprises, so if you're a fan, congratulate yourself on being in one of the most fascinating communities on the web. Fandom is also not homogeneous, and we've left out many terms that are in common use among various subfandoms and subcultures within fandom. If you want to know more about fandom and its terms, or specific fandoms, we recommend checking out Fanlorethe fandom wiki run by the Organization for Transformative Works.

Got another fandom term you want defined or added to the list? Let us know! Our mission has never been more vital than it is in this moment: to empower through understanding. Financial contributions from our fandom terminology are a critical part of supporting our resource-intensive work and help us keep our journalism free for all.

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Canon, fanon, shipping and more: a glossary of the tricky terminology that makes up fan culture. Share this story Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share All sharing options Share All sharing options for: Canon, fanon, shipping and more: a glossary of the tricky terminology that makes up fan culture.

Reddit Pocket Flipboard. You fandom terminology over to their conversation, but they appear to be speaking in foreign tongues: "Did you see last night's ep? I love Snowbarry. I OTP Westallen so hard, though. Part 1: What even is "fandom"?

Part 2: Basic fandom concepts Canon : The source material. In fiction-based fandoms, "canon" is simply the source narrative you're referring to when you talk about that thing you like. Some people have different ideas of what "canon" is — for example, many Harry Potter fandom terminology don't consider anything but the published books to be canon, while other fans include the extra information author J. Rowling has provided about the wizarding world on her Pottermore website and on Twitter. Fanon : These are the pieces of information fans make up to supplement their canons.

Sometimes a detail gets widely distributed and becomes a major fanon trope, meaning it makes its way around fandom and becomes a well-known idea. And to really break your brain, sometimes that trope makes its way back to the creators of the source material, who stick the fanon trope into canon. For instance, in the third season of the BBC's Sherlock, John Watson was rescued from a bonfire in a cheeky reference to the fanon meme depicting Martin Freeman, who plays Watson, as a hedgehog. Hedgehogs often curl up in the piles of wood assembled for bonfires on Guy Fawkes Day in England.

Headcanon: A sub-branch of "fanon" is actually called "headcanon. Shipping: Perhaps the single most popular fandom activity, shipping involves fans rooting for two characters — or two real-life people, if your fandom is reality-based — to get together romantically. If you ship a pair of characters, they become a ship and you become a shipper.

Often the shippers behind different ships fight for dominance within a fandom; these fandom terminology called ship wars. OT3, OT4, etc. Fanfiction: Fanfiction — or fanfic or ficbut never "fan fiction"; the two-word construction is considered incorrect — is fiction written about a ly existing work, or a ly existing source of some kind. This ly existing source can be virtually anything, including reality; there's a whole subgenre of fanfic called RPFshort for "real person fiction," fandom terminology fanfiction about real people.

Fanfiction exists about everything from commercials to inanimate objects to real world history. Fanfiction is also as old as civilization itselfand, contrary to popular belief, it's not illegal. It's generally considered to be fair use under US copyright law, in that it qualifies as a "transformative" work based off the original source material. Fanfiction is a collective noun, so you say "works of fanfiction," not "fanfictions. Fanworks: Fanworks are stuff you make in honor of a canon; how you define "stuff" and "make" is largely up to you. Common types of fanworks include things like fan art and fan vids exactly like fanfic but with pictures and videosmeta serious discussion about canon or about fandom itselfcosplay dressing in costume as a fictional characterfan comics, fan films, podfics recordings of fanfiction made by other fansfilk fannish song parodiesfan theories, and everything from fannish sewing patterns to fannish tattoos.

In short, it's just about anything you can think of making to support, defend, expand upon, discuss, or celebrate your fandom.

TPTB : A fandom abbreviation for "the powers that be. The use of this term is waning in modern fandom in favor of "creators," "showrunners," etc. The term has the side effect of reminding fandom terminology that ultimately, creators have power over canonical material and, to some extent, over fandom itself. BNF : big-name fan. This term dates from old-school sci-fi fandom and refers to a "famous" fan or a fan who is more or less at the center of fandom culture. For instance, before she became a major best-seller, The Shadowhunters author Cassandra Clare was considered to be the most famous fanfiction author in the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter fandoms.

Het fanfic is "het fic. Many fans believe slash is a subversive response to heteronormative canons, which rarely allow for the possibility that main characters can be queer. But a growing of fans maintain that the tendency of slashers to fixate on mostly white male characters makes slash a deeply problematic and regressive genre.

Slash is a huge part of modern fandom culture. As of Tumblr's last statistical analysis on the subject, it's pretty clear that the vast majority of pairings being shipped in fandom tend to be slash pairings. However, the major het ships in fandom, like Arrow 's Olicity, seem to have more shippers in other locations on the internet — not just Tumblr, which is generally considered to be the contemporary hub of fandom terminology online.

Femslashers generally want to be considered separately from "slash" in discussions of fandom because their ships are often quite different. Femslash has historically ed for the smallest portion of fandom, but recently femslash pairings have surged in popularity thanks to major canonical queer ships like Korrasami for the TV show The Legend of Korra and Clexa for the TV show Theand non-canonical but still popular ones like Swanqueen within the fandom for the TV show Once Upon a Time.

Gen or genfic: Short for "general," genfic is what you get when your story isn't primarily concerned with romance. You can also be a "gen shipper," which paradoxically means you don't ship anyone in particular. Because of the issues involved in speculating on someone's real sexual identity, RPS can sometimes can get a bit thornyto put it mildly. Fan archives There are countless fanfiction archives in existence, like the massive wealth of fic at sites like AsianFanficsinnumerable tiny forums for individual fandoms, and blog sites like LiveJournal, Tumblr, and Dreamwidth.

Currently, there are three especially predominant fandom terminology FF. Because fanfiction. But plenty of longtime fans continue to enjoy its thriving community, and it remains one of the most stable fic archives on the internet. Wattpad : Wattpad is an online self-publishing platform that has become hugely popular with fans, on a massive scale that dwarfs all other fanfiction archives on the internet.

Like Movellas, Quotev, and other similar corporate publishing platforms that allow fanfiction, Wattpad's fanfiction demographics skew younger, with a focus on celebrity fandoms. The One Direction fanfiction turned young-adult publishing phenomenon After started out as a Wattpad juggernaut that has already been read million times online. The process of building the AO3 led to the creation of the fandom-run nonprofit Organization for Transformative Works the OTWwhich advocates for the legal rights, preservation, and awareness of fanworks.

Because the AO3 was built primarily by slashers, it's known for being a mostly slash-oriented website. The different types of fanfiction Canon fic, or in-universe fic: Fic that builds off the existing canonical storyline. AU: Short for "alternative universe," AU places canonical characters into a different setting, universe, or timeline, or otherwise alters something ificant about the existing canonical storyline. Popular subgenres of AU include the "historical AU," when characters are sent back in time fandom terminology a specific historical era; the "coffee shop AU," in which characters are taken out of their existing storyline and placed in the context of meeting randomly in a coffee shop usually one half of your OTP is a barista, and the other half is an annoyed, harried, caffeine-addicted patron ; the high school or college AU, in which your characters are aged older or younger and sent to high school or college as the case may be; and the "Hogwarts AU," in which all the characters of another universe are sent to Hogwarts.

Crossover fic: A cousin to the AU, this kind of fic combines two or more sources. Think Archie vs. PWP: Short for "Plot? What plot?

WIP: Short for "work in progress. Mary Sue or Gary Stu: This is an original self-insert character or the fic he or she appears in. Mary Sues are heavily mocked both inside and outside fandoms because they're usually characterized by unrealistic amounts of perfection — prettiest looks, highest grades, strongest athletic ability, fandom terminology.

And the tendency to make a character a "Sue" isn't just limited to fanfiction; you can find unbelievably perfect self-inserts at the center of everything from Jean M. Genderbending : Genderbent fic is fic that changes the gender of one or more of the canonical characters. Racebending and f ancasting: Fancasting is the practice of casting a totally new or theorized actor or cast of characters in a role; for example, before Eddie Redmayne was cast as Newt Scamander in the upcoming Harry Potter spinoff film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Themmany Harry Potter fans fancast a wide range of actors in the part, from Benedict Cumberbatch to Dev Patel to Nathan Stewart-Jarrett.

The cousin term, "racebending," actually has two very different meanings depending on context. The word comes from the fan protests surrounding the notorious film adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender in and ; the project infamously whitewashed the cast, despite the source material's clear emphasis on diversity, drawing massive backlash from the Avatar fandom.

Today, the site Racebendingwhich originated with the Avatar protests, is a media watch site whose mission is to raise awareness of Hollywood whitewashing. Meanwhile, the term has also come to mean changing the ethnicity of pd white characters to envision them as examples of diverse representation in a positive way.

This positive trend, sometimes referred to as "chromatic casting," now proliferates in fandom culture. Part 4: Issues in fandom The fourth wall: This is an extremely complicated and controversial idea that there is, or at least ought fandom terminology be, an invisible "fourth wall" that exists between fans and creators, and to a different extent between fandom and the outside world — a wall that simultaneously protects fans against outside scrutiny and judgment and protects creators from knowing what fans are talking about and allowing fandom activity to influence them. With fandom terminology increased mainstreaming of fandom, and the advent of social media, fan-creator interaction is more common than ever, but many fans remain freaked out by it and can often be heard commenting that they "want the fourth wall back.

The idea of queerbaiting has evolved mainly among slash and femslash fans to mean an in-progress canonical storyline which exploits queer fans or fans of a specific queer ship by teasing them for ratings without any intention of actually making characters fandom terminology queer. Queerbaiting usually starts when creators insert slashy subtext into their show.

Queerbaiting can also involve marketing teams or creatives building on or openly embracing homoerotic subtext outside the show. Historically, this kind of practice has been a boon to queer fans, a way for creators to tacitly embrace queer audiences while dealing with the reality of the celluloid closet.

But modern fans are increasingly unwilling to settle for subtext, and if the show itself doesn't follow through on any of the homoerotic hints, accusations of queerbaiting are quick to follow. Where things get really tricky is when fans accuse narratives that already do have meaningfully queer characters and queer relationships of exploiting them and their expectations. P2P: P2P is short for "pull to publish," which is also known as "filing off the serial s. Cinnamon rolls and trash ships: The idea of a "beautiful cinnamon roll" fandom terminology stems from an Onion article that became a famed Tumblr meme ; the conceit is that something about the pairing is "too pure, too good for this world" — and sometimes this can translate to being afraid the pairing will be "damaged," written badly, or tainted somehow by the many problematic tropes that inhabit fandom.

Recently in fandom culture, an increasing of fans in some fandoms — most notably Star Wars — are interpreting "cinnamon roll ships" and "trash ships" as totally separate kinds of ships that bespeak an ideological divide. For instance, a ship like Kylux Kylo Ren and the minor character Hux in The Force Awakens might be labeled a "trash ship" because it's seen as a representation of fandom's heavily white status quo — your average ubiquitous white-dude slash pairing. Again, this being fandom, these issues are very layered, controversial, and complicated.

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Fandom terminology

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