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Fanfiction Terms: A Glossary

Updated on September 27, 2013

What does that word mean?

If you are new to the world of fanfiction, you may already have puzzled over the many strange new words you’ve encountered. Here is a short glossary of some of the more popular terms, collected from various sources around the internet.

AU – Alternate universe. When canon characters are placed in a different time or place from that of the source material. Can also be when the characters’ fates are shown as different from the original story. But if the characters are placed in another established fictional world, it’s a Crossover (see definition).

BroTP – Brotherly relationship. Non-sexual pairing. Compare to OTP.

Canon – Story and characterization as laid out in the original work.

Characterization Tags – Not to be confused with tagging a fic, a characterization tag is when a word is added in front of the character’s name, separated by an exclamation mark, to define how the character is portrayed in the fic. Examples: fem!Draco, baby!Bilbo, dark!Smurfette

Chibi – Tiny, cute, large-eyed version of a character. In fan art, a chibi character usually has big head with a tiny body and limbs.

Crack Pairing – Two characters who never in a million years would ever get together. Possibly not even the same species. Often played for laughs. Based on the notion that anyone who would come up with such an idea must be on drugs.

Crack Fic – A silly story. Something completely implausible within the context of the source material, but the writer decided to try to make it work. Also based on the notion that anyone who would come up with such an idea must be on drugs.

Creys – An overly-cute misspelling of “cry.” Often used in the phrase “my creys,” meaning “my tears,” or weeping.

Crossover – Taking characters from one fandom and placing them in another fandom, e.g., the Daleks invade Hogwarts. Captain Kirk and Spock beam down to Middle-earth. Sherlock Holmes teams up with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Not quite the same as AU.

Cuddles – Just what it says on the tin.

Drabble – A story or scene told in a single paragraph, sometimes limited to 100 words.

Dub-con – Dubious consent to sexual activity.

Fanon – Ideas that while not in the original work, have been generally accepted by fans.

Feels – A synonym for “feelings.” Often used in the phrase “So many feels.”

Fic – A work of fanfiction.

Ficlet – A short work of fanfiction.

Fluff – Sweetness, romance, affection. Sometimes also WAFF – warm and fuzzy feeling.

Gary Stu – Also called Marty Stu, male version of Mary Sue (see that definition).

Headcanon – Ideas that appeal to the fanfiction writer, which they choose to believe no matter what anyone else might believe.

Hentai – Animated pornography, drawn in anime style. From the Japanese word for pervert, or person with a strange attitude, it relates to anime comics with sexualized content.

Het – Heterosexual. Heterosexual activity.

Hurt-comfort – A story in which a character is mistreated in some way. Then another character comforts them.

Keyboard Smash – A long series of random letters used when someone is so overwhelmed by emotions that they are no longer able to express themselves. Example: agfnhsdfghjkkjlk;’

Lemon – Sex in a fanfiction. Derived from the 1984 anime, "Cream Lemon", a story about a girl called Ami and her relationships.

Mary Sue – Annoyingly perfect OFC (see that definition) who intrudes into an established scenario for the purpose of being the object of the canon characters’ devotion.

Non-con – Non-consensual sexual activity.

NSFW – Not Safe For Work, generally applied to pictures and videos with explicit content.

OC – Original character.

OFC – Original female character. Often stigmatized as “Mary Sue.”

Omake – Bonus or extra material. Additional information that isn’t part of the main fic.

One-shot – A single chapter story.

OTP – One true pairing. A fan's favorite or ultimate romantic relationship.

Portmaneau couple name – Used in shipping (see that definition). A single word combining the two names of the characters involved. Real world example: Brangelina, from Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

PWP – Plot What Plot? Also a lemon (see that definition).

Rule 34 – If it exists, a pornographic version of it also exists.

Rule 63 – For any given male character, there is a female version of that character.

(for many other rules, see the Urban Dictionary.)

Shipping – When fans support or favor relationships, generally romantic pairings, between two characters. Coined by fans of the X-Files, who were originally divided between “relationshippers” (shippers) and “noromos”( those who favored no romance or kissing between Mulder and Scully).

Slash – Fic in which two canon characters are involved in a romantic or sexual relationship that is not part of the canon. The term comes from the “/” mark that appears between the two names. Usually male/male.

Smut – Sex, explicit sexual activity (not necessarily a negative term).

Tags – Descriptions that help readers know in advance the contents of a fic. Descriptions of the relationships, characters, and situations featured in the story.

Trigger Warnings, or TW – Warnings that let a reader know if the story has any disturbing or difficult elements which might trigger a negative reaction in a sensitive reader.

Troll – Someone who sets out to annoy, harass, upset, or enrage people in a fandom. A person who writes a troll fic.

Troll fic – A story which is intended to anger and sadden the fans of a given character, for example, when the author disregards everything that is known about the character and makes the character commit (or suffer) some horrible and degrading act.

UST – Unresolved sexual tension.

4chan – An image board in which all kinds of comments, images and other information regarding popular culture is posted. Frequently NSFW.


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    • SaraleeEtter profile image

      SaraleeEtter 2 years ago from Ohio

      Thank you! I'm glad you thought it helped!

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 2 years ago

      Thank you. It is a great glossary for anyone interested in fanfic.

    • SaraleeEtter profile image

      SaraleeEtter 4 years ago from Ohio

      Thanks, Carter06! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 4 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      This is pretty cool I have to say Sara..not a big fan..yet but now I know that Chibi's are those cute big eyed little creatures that pop up from time to time.. Thanks for a well set out with clear detail hub..Voted U & A & tweeted..cheers