Fandom Primer

 FanFiction terms

FanFiction terms
A glossary index in order to help navigate and understand the linguistics and terminology of fandom.

A/B/O - Alpha/Beta/Omega verse. Typically known as a kink trope where characters have a secondary gender aside from male/female, ie. male!alpha, male!beta, male!omega. How this is explored can vary wildly, but often includes graphic sex, wherein male omegas are able to conceive and give birth, and female!alphas are able to impregnate their partners, as all alphas have a penis, and all omegas a uterus, as well as inclusion of additional animalistic features, such as increased smell, hearing, etc. (See: knotting)

*Side note: it is important that this be written A/B/O as ABO is completely different and a derogatory slur with no correlation to fandom.

Alternative definition: A/B/O - Alpha/Beta/Omega. Also referred to shorthand as Omegaverse. Typically known as an AU setting or kink trope modeled after stereotypical wolf mating conventions. How this is employed varies widely

AO3 - website ArchiveOfOurOwn, created by fans for fans due to censorship of LGBT fans and LGBT content, and is a fanfic hosting website with a wide range of ways to search for fics, including searching by relationship (Sam Winchester & Dean Winchester) or pairing (Castiel/Dean Winchester), rating (G, T, M, E), and tags (‘fluff’, ‘Christmas’, ‘curtain fic’), as well as blocking content from searches such as ‘gore’, ‘main character death’, or ‘abuse’. Most fans reach out to other fans for recommendations before they start searching themselves. AO3 is funded by the people who use it. (See: Exodus)

Alternative definition: AO3 - ArchiveOfOurOwn. A website created in response to Livejournal cracking down on problematic fan content. Founded by noted Wincest fanfic writer, astolat.

AU - fanfic term meaning Alternate Universe. There is no limit to these, common ones including coffee shop AU’s, lawyer AU’s, superhero!AU, cop!AU, always-a-girl AU’s, Hogwarts AU, Beauty and the Beast AU, etc. Same chars, relationships, personalities, but everything else is different.

Alternative definition: Fanfiction that takes place is a setting different from canon. (i.e., Coffee Shop AU, Everybody Lives AU)

Beta - is both a noun and a verb, sort of like an editor and proofreader for fics.

Alternative definition: 1) A person who proofreads a fanwork, 2) The act of editing/proofreading a fanwork. 

Beard - used to describe the spouse believed by tinhat fans to be in a puppet show marriage to hide a celebrity’s secret love/marriage to another celebrity, usually of the same gender. Often, it is used in a derogatory manner and the spouse in question receives a lot of targeted hate for keeping the perceived lovers apart. Can be used as a noun or verb. (See: tinhat)

Blanket Permission - creators, usually of fanfic or fanart, will give ‘blanket permission’ for others to create transformative works of their original creations. This can apply to blanket permission to podfic a work, or to create fanart based on a ‘verse they created. Permission must always be asked for and granted in order to create transformative works, this applies less to fanart, and more to the translation or narration of someone else’s fics. (See: Podfic)

BNF - this is an older term that still gets used on occasion meaning Big Name Fan, fans well-known within fandom to an almost minor celebrity status, often due to their contributions to fandom such as popular fanworks or BTS access and interviews with those involved in the source material.

Alternative definition: A person who has achieved celebrity status within fandom due to their contributions.

Brotp - Two characters paired together in a profound, sibling/sibling-like friendship that is in no way romantic or sexual, but emphasizes their closeness and friendship that is very important to a person and they are emotionally invested in. Ex. Dean Winchester and Charlie Bradbury, Dean Winchester and Sam Winchester, or Sam Winchester and Castiel. In fic, the format for referencing a platonic pair being the focus of the fic is ‘Sam Winchester & Dean Winchester’ under relationship, whereas a romantic pairing would be written ‘Sam Winchester/Jessica Moore’.

Alternative definition: A pairing shipped platonically, but not romantically. Portmanteau of ‘brother’ and ‘OTP,’ though the characters mentioned need not be related or have a sibling-like relationship.

Canon -  something that is strictly confirmed within the context of the source material.

Canon Compliant -  fanfic term referring to stories written that do not go against the established canon and could very well have happened within established canon.

Canon Divergent -  when a story includes canon, but there veers off as at specific point, with the story continuing in a different direction than it did in canon.

Cockles - shorthand way of referring to Misha Collins and Jensen Ackles or their friendship and interactions, can also be used as a shipping term for RPF/RPS. Depending on context it is either shorthand speak or referencing RPS shipping.

Alternative definition: Portmanteau of ‘Collins’ and Ackles. Could be used a general reference to their interactions or, when it comes to RPF, a ship name. 

Concrit -  Constructive Criticism, there are rules and etiquette regarding this, but the purpose is self-explanatory, meant to help the author in specific areas to better their writing, and not with the purpose of bashing their efforts or pointing out all the things you disliked. 1) Don’t offer if not asked for. 2) If you can’t do it politely, don’t do it.

Crack - has dual meaning. (1) an older descriptor to express addiction to a fic or series; (2) a fic that is based on a ludacris premise, sometimes meant as pure comedy, others taking the obscure as a challenge and making something sensible of it-- this often with addendum stating it’s not ‘pure crack’. Does not necessarily mean it’s a comedy.

Crack Ship -  like the above, it’s generally involving characters being paired together for the silliness of it, like Impala and Pimpmobile, or due to characters never having met or interacted in canon, such as Bela/Castiel. Does not necessarily mean it’s a comedy.

Crossover - when two fandoms are combined in a fic or other work, ex. Scoobynatural. Avengers and Justice League also count as crossovers, as each character exists independently of the others in their own story.

Curtainfic/Domestic fic - a popular fic trope where characters/pairing are generally in a domestic setting living very domestic lives. After painful episodes or disappointing finales, fans seek out happy fics as a balm.

Destiel/DeanCas - refers to pairing Dean Winchester and Castiel together in a romantic relationship.

Alternative definition: refers to pairing Dean Winchester and Castiel together in a romantic relationship. 

Exodus - Fandom history term. Online fandom has often been the only place for LGBT fans and transformative works, often fics, where characters are imagined in same-sex pairings. One of the main mass Exoduses was with (FFN) where they deemed any fic with LGBT character or pairings as adult content and began mass deleting entire works, regardless of audience rating (Gen/PG/PG-13/R/M). Then when called out for homophobia, they began deleting all Mature-rated fics with heterosexual pairings, while still deleting anything with LGBT characters regardless of audience rating, publicly stating they wanted the site “safe for everybody/children.”

The second Exodus was then of LiveJournal (LJ) in the exact same pattern. Entire blogs deleted. Years worth of people’s stories and writings. Gone. They came for the LGBT, then covered their butts by going for anything they deemed mature-themed.

A third Exodus is currently taking place on Tumblr. Once again coming for LGBT users first, entire blogs made invisible to everyone aside from the blog owner, followed by the misogyny of deeming “female presenting nipples” and NSFW content. This brought on after the Tumblr app was banned from the app store for “child pornography” and “pornography”-- an issue which users have spent months and years bringing to Staff’s attention to no end until their shareholders began losing money.  (See: AO3)

Fans are currently in mass-exodus to PillowFort whose only censorship is of under-aged sexual content (this is ostracizing many Wincest shippers due to their ‘Weecest’ content. ie, underaged sexual/romantic content for Sam Winchester and Dean Winchester, or involving their father, John Winchester.)

SFW, LGBT content, and ‘female-presenting nipples’ are still getting blocked alongside the inappropriate content because Tumblr’s algorithm is a mess, but Tumblr Staff refuses to do anything about the White Supremacists and Nazi blogs that users are still reporting.

Fanfiction - misconception is that fanfiction is porn, strictly for porn purposes, or it is dismissed in its entirety as terrible writing because of its nature or that it is primarily written by women and LGBT fans. This is inaccurate and considered very rude. Actors and late-night comedians have mocked it, fans, and fandom many times through the decades, most notably since the airing of the original Star Trek in the late-60’s. (This was also the birth of fan conventions.)

Fanfiction is born of the same emotional investment into the well-being and future happiness of characters that keeps fans watching a show. It goes ones step further in giving characters things that either canon wouldn’t bother with or have time for, like vacations or Christmas with family, or the challenge of taking the same characters and completely changing their settings, while keeping their personalities and bonds the same. (See: AU)

It is also a place for transformative fiction where snapbacks of ‘if you don’t like it, go make your own!’ gave birth to a wide variety of fic where writers put more of themselves and people like them into the story in a way canon would not allow because of stigmas (more lead bisexual male characters) or sexism/misogyny/racism (women who aren’t there to just be the dick receptacle, LGBT/women who aren’t sexualized, more POC characters, or POC/Women/LGBT/disabled characters that don’t get killed for shock value or the sake of male angst/char development). Not getting the representation they want, fans will turn around and make the content themselves and share with others. These common problematic tropes in media are known as “Kill Your Gays” (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The 100, Supernatural, The Walking Dead, pretty much any show/movie with a queer character) or “Fridging” (the killing of female char for male char development. Ex. Deadpool 2)

Fanon - a general widely accepted headcanon that is not confirmed within canon, sometimes even contradicting canon.

Alternative definition: A general widely accepted headcanon that is not confirmed within canon, sometimes even contradicting canon. 

Gen-fic - meaning “general fiction”, a fic genre with no romantic pairing or leaning of the main focus characters. Side pairings or nods to side-pairings may be allowed. Such as a fic about Sam and Dean on a case, but acknowledging Sam is with Eileen and that Dean and Cas are not yet together, as well as past relationships. Fics focused on two characters and their bond will be tagged as “(character name) & (character name)”, like Dean Winchester & Sam Winchester, Castiel & Claire Novak, Claire Novak & Patience Turner, etc.

Alternative definition: General fic. Used generally for fic where romance is not a significant factor, though it can have background relationships.

Genderswap/Rule 63 - characters are turned into the opposite gender, either temporarily, permanently, or always-a-girl/boy. This is a very old trope, whose popularity ranges from fandom to fandom. Rule 63: if it exists, there’s a genderswap of it. (‘Rule 63’ is an older acknowledgement of the trope as a whole, rather than specifying its presence in a work)

Gencest - A portmanteau of ‘Gen’ and ‘Wincest.’ Nonromantic fics that focus on the relationship between Sam and Dean Winchester. Also referred to as ‘Hard Gen.’ Not widely used.

Goggles- het goggles, slash goggles, etc. refers to seeing only what you want to see, regardless of narrative, disregarding anything that upsets your preferred interpretation of canon.

Headcanon -  is a personal belief of something that happened within canon, but is not canon, and may or may contradict canon. Jensen Ackles’ headcanon about his character Dean Winchester is that Dean possibly exchanged sex for cash as a way of getting funds when needed. Fans and actors can have headcanons about characters/canon.

Alternative definition: A personal belief of something that happened within canon, but is not canon, and may or may contradict canon.

Hiatus/Hellatus -  time period when Supernatural episodes go a period of time without airing.

Hurt/Comfort - fanfiction trope that involves the physical pain or emotional distress of one character, who is cared for by another character. These can have a subset of other tropes attached and layered, such as Sick, Angst, or Fluff.

J2 -- the shorthand way to refer to both Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki. It can also be used in a shipping context.

J2-stans - Fans whose favorite characters are typically Sam and Dean and favorite actors are Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki. (See: stan)

Knotting - fic trope in fics with animalistic or alien characteristics, based on the bulbus glandis, "an erectile tissue structure on the penis of canid mammals", where partners are basically stuck together (generally giving excuse for cuddling, physical affection, and talking) until the swollen ‘knot’ at the base of the penis goes down and partner can withdrawal. (See: A/B/O)

Lemon/Lime - very old terms from the days of FFN and LJ that acted as a indicator of sexual content. ‘Lime’ referred to minor, non-explicit sexual content. ‘Lemon’ was graphic sexual content. These are mostly outdated, but fans who have been in fandom for a long time often wish for their return due to the specific nature of the indicator.

Meta - used to describe a discussion of fanworks of all kinds, fan work in relation to the source text, fanfiction characters and their motivation and psychology, fan behavior, and fandom itself. Falls heavily into the studies of sociology, psychology,  as well as storytelling and narrative.

Mishalecki -  shorthand way of referring to both Misha Collins and Jared Padalecki or their friendship and interactions. Sometimes used as a term for RPF or RPS. Meaning depends on context.

Alternative definition: Portmanteau of ‘Misha’ and ‘Padalecki’. Could be used a general reference to their interactions or, when it comes to RPF, a ship name. 

Mpreg - Fic trope referring to male pregnancy. How it’s handled depends on the trope, genre, and world-building, such as A/B/O that has secondary sexes aside from male/female, or due to magic/science when one partner cannot carry to term. Think seahorses.

Multishipper/Multishipping - Means you do not have set ships you prefer and you are able to read/write a wider variety of pairings. Can be specific in nature, like having Destiel as your OTP (meaning you prefer Dean and Castiel only with each other) but Sam-multishipper (mean you are open to Samwena/Samwitch, Sabriel, Suby, Saileen, SamJess, Sody, etc. You ship him like UPS). Or you can only ship Sabriel, but you’re a Dean-multishipper (Destiel, Denny, Destiny, Dean/Lisa, Dean/Cassie, Drowley, Dean/OC, etc.).

Alternative definition: person who ships more than one ship to varying degrees. 

Non-con/Dub-con - warnings for fics containing non-consensual or dubious-consent sex.

NOTP -A romantic pairing that a person is steadfastly against. Big nope. Wincest and Megstiel are major NOTPs for some fans. The characters can still be Brotps. NOTP just means they cannot be romantic/sexual in nature, but doesn’t mean fans don’t love the chars or love them as friends.

Alternative definition: Portmanteau of ‘No’ and ‘OTP.’ A romantic pairing that a person is steadfastly against. 

OTP -  Initially standing for One True Pairing, its meaning has become laxer as to simply refer to a person’s favorite pairings, rather than being restricted to only one. DreamHunter, Bobby/Ellen, Destiel or Dean/Cas, Sam/Jess, Sam/Eileen, Sam/fewer concussions, etc. are all pairings people want together.

Alternative definition: Acronym of One True Pairing. Refers to a person’s favorite romantic pairing, though this can be used for a multitude of pairs. 

OT3 - is a play on OTP, and means "one true threesome". The term was in widespread use by the early 2000s. Its use is generally looser than OTP; OT3 tends to mean "the threesome I really like" more than "I'm only interested in this threesome and no other pairings or combinations."

Alternative definition: - A play on OTP, and means "one true threesome". A favorite pairing consisting of three characters. 

OC: Original Character; OMC - Original Male Character, OFC -  Original Female Character.

OMC - Oh My Chuck! As within the Supernatural canon, God goes by the name Chuck Shurley, and adapted by fans as a fun way to reference the show with a familiar phrasing.

OOC - Out of Character, reflects a discontinuity in the characters actions, thoughts, speech given canon.

OTT - Over the Top, excessive or melodramatic reaction.

Pada-(word) - a shorthand way of referring to the Padalecki family as a whole or specific things that happen. Examples: Padafamily. Padakiss/Padasmooch. Padakids.

Podfic -can be used as a noun or verb. It is the narration of fanfic into an audiobook and made available online. Creators are referred to as podficcers-- who may be podficcing their newest podfic.

PWP - fic trope that stands for Porn With Plot, or Porn Without Plot. Check other tags for clarification.

Rarepair - is a pairing that has only a small number of fans, therefore there is minimal content about that ship, ie., Crobby (Crowley/Bobby Singer) is a rarepair.

RPF/RPS -  fanfic trope where RL ppl are treated as chars and fans write fic about them, their lives and relationships, as they are more far off and less ‘real’ than the chars they play, sparking imagination. RPF stands for Real Person Fiction, while RPS is Real Person Slash, referring to same-sex pairing. Not everyone is comfortable with this so tagging is very important to avoiding squicking people out.

Alternative definition: Real Person Fiction/Real Person Slash/Real Person Shipping. A genre of fanfiction that focuses on real life celebrities.

Rule 34: if it exists, there’s porn about it.

Sabriel - pairing of Sam Winchester/Gabriel

Saileen - pairing of Sam Winchester/Eileen Leahy

Samwitch/Samwena - pairing of Sam Winchester/Rowena Macleod

Sastiel/Sassy  -- Romantic shipping of Sam/Castiel, often considered one of the least problematic ships due to the mutual respect between the characters.

Ship - a term that can be both a noun or verb and is shorthand for relationship between two characters. (Sam Winchester, typically, gets shipped like UPS in fandom. There can be a number of combinations)

Alternative definition: A romantic relationship. 

Shipping - Extension of emotional investment in specific characters, their well-being and future happiness.

Slash - same-sex pairings with slash generally referring specifically to male/male pairings, while female pairing are differentiated using ‘femslash’.

Smol son/daughter/bean - when a character or actor is so adorable you want to adopt/protect them, stick them in your pocket, and feed them M&M’s. It’s a use of hyperbolic expression common within fandom. Usually characters, like Claire, Jack, or Kaia, that are viewed with a similar affection a fan might hold for one of their younger siblings.

Smol Nougat Son - Jack Kline or Alex Calvert, depending on context. (See: Smol son/daughter)

Smut - explicit sexual content

Squick - an older fan term to describe when content upsets or otherwise makes you uncomfortable. Another term fans wish would regain popularity due to its specific nature and the misuse of the term ‘triggering’, which is not the same thing. Just because something is discomfiting, often as it is intended, does not mean you are triggered.Can be used as a noun, verb, or adjective. Ie, “That’s my squick”, “It squicked me out”, “It’s very squicky.”

Alternative definition: Something that grosses you out or disgusts you. Not to be confused with something that triggers you..

-stan -  originally derogatory and meant ‘stalker fan’, fans who were obsessed and took things too far. Can still apply, but typically used now to show favoritism. Jared-stan, J2-stan, Misha-stan, Jeneel-stan, etc. Basically means “They’re my fave”. ‘Stan’ has evolved the same way ‘fan’ has, originally to mean ‘fanatics’. How far the individual takes things can change the meaning in context. Whether they love and celebrate something or have an unhealthy, fixated obsession.

Suby - Romantic shipping of Sam/Ruby, usually with tags to specify which Ruby (Ruby 1.0 or Ruby 2.0)

Tags -  fic descriptors detailing the different tropes or warnings contained within a specific work.

Tinhat - comparing of fans to conspiracy theorists based on their belief that their favorite celebrities are really a couple, forced by The Powers That Be to keep their relationship a secret. Tinhats tend to believe almost everything their faves do is actually a lie to hide the truth or has double-meaning, and that they are forced into friendships/marriages to hide their actual feelings or relationship with each other. (See: Beard)

alternative definition: the term tinhats was adopted by fans in many fandoms to describe similar conspiracy theorists and believers. The term is more likely to be used by nonbelievers than the fans in question, though it depends[7]. Fans sometimes use the tinhat terminology ironically or self-deprecatingly; when they are squeeing especially loudly over some piece of celebrity gossip, they may type *dons tinhat* or *polishes tinhat*. They seldom mean that they really believe that their preferred OTP is a couple in real life. Most RPF shippers of unconfirmed (or denied) celebrity pairings do not believe that the ship is real; many RPF stories contain an explicit disclaimer in the header emphasizing that the story is fiction and denying any implication that the writer thinks the people in question are actually a couple. (Source: )

Alternative definition: A fan who legitimately believes there is a secret romantic relationship involving Supernatural actors. Inability to read extensive blocks of text, or in disregard and dismissal of said content

TPTB - The Powers That Be, those with any control over the source material, such as directors, producers, show runners, and network executives.

TLDR/TL;DR - Too Long; Didn’t Read. This can be either to inability to read extensive blocks of text, or in disregard and dismissal of said content

Trigger - is a sudden and involuntary reaction to a specific thing relating back to personal trauma, drug use/addiction, or self-harm. Triggers are personal/trauma specific and can vary wildly, even something as simple as scrambled eggs because of how the brain associates it with a traumatic event. This is not the same as a ‘squick’, and is often misused.

Trolls - people who get off on being insulting and hateful or causing fandom drama. Don’t feed them. Block/mute them and let them scream into the void. Annoy them by posting nothing but happy things of you enjoying whatever you love and don’t even acknowledge them. Imagine them grinding their teeth down to their gum line.

Trope - descriptor for popular themes or elements in fanworks. Hurt/Comfort, Bedsharing, Caregiving, Kid fic, A/B/O, Reverse verse, panty fetish, PWP, etc.

Twinkles -  Twin Ackles -occasional shorthand for Zeppelin and Arrow Ackles, born from before their names were announced.

Verse - Short for universe, referring to a world created within a work or a continued series. ‘Bakery-verse’, ‘Map of the World-verse’, ‘Out of the Deep-verse’, etc.

Alternative definition: ‘verse — Short for ‘universe.’ Fanfiction that takes place in a commonly known or previously established universe of an author’s creation. (See also: A/B/O)

Whump - a trope that is heavily focused on inflicting hurt, emotionally or physically, on a specific character. Can also be used as an adjective and verb, ‘whumpage’, ‘whumping’.

Wincest - the incestual shipping on Dean Winchester and his brother Sam Winchester, written Sam Winchester/Dean Winchester. If writing about them as a brotp, then they are tagged as “Dean Winchester & Sam Winchester” on AO3 under ‘relationship’. 

Alternative definition: Romantic pairing of Sam Winchester and Dean Winchester. 

WinCasWin - Is the shipping of Dean, Sam, and Cas, but with both brothers in love with Cas while having no romantic/sexual feelings for each other. Not widely used.

Wincestiel - Shipping of Dean/Sam/Cas, where all three are in a romantic/sexual relationship with each other.

YKINMK - Your Kink Is Not My Kink, is a way of agreeing to disagree on particular enjoyment of different tropes and content within a fic without claiming there is a right or wrong way of enjoying fandom content.

YMMV - Your Mileage May Vary, ie. “This was my experience, yours might not be the same”


Sources and Further Reading:

  • Superfandom: How Our Obsessions are Changing What We Buy and Who We Are by Zoe Fraade-Blanar and Aaron M. Glazer; (
  • Fandom, Second Edition: Identities and Communities in a Mediated World by Jonathan Gray; (
  • Supernatural Psychology: Roads Less Traveled (Popular Culture Psychology Book 8) by Lynn Zubernis & Travis Langley; (


Fandom Primer