Fanspeak is the slang or jargon current in science fiction and fantasy fandom, especially those terms in use among readers and writers of science fiction fanzines.

Fanspeak is made up of acronyms, blended words, obscure in-jokes, puns, coinages from science fiction novels or films, and archaic or standard English words used in specific ways relevant or amusing to the science fiction community.


Many terms used in fanspeak have spread to members of the Society for Creative Anachronism, Renaissance Fair participants, and internet gaming and chat fans, due to the social and contextual intersection between the communities.

Common examples of widespread usages are:Fact|date=September 2008
* "fen" as the plural of "fan"
* "fannish" "of or relating to fans and fandom"
* "gafiate" (verb), an acronym for "getting away from it all"

A few fannish terms have become standard English, such as fanzine, short for "fan magazine", coined by Russ Chauvenet in 1940, which swiftly replaced the older term "fanmag".

Conversely, some fannish terms have become obsolete due to changes in technology (the decline of the mimeograph has doomed "corflu" for "correction fluid") or the mere passage of time ("slan shack" for "a house where a bunch of fans live together" will fade since few younger fans have read "Slan" by A.E. Van Vogt).

Fanspeak is so interwoven into the fabric of fandom that it is difficult to discuss fandom without resorting to fannish terms such as "fanac" "fannish activity" or "filk music" (originally a typo for "folk music").

Other terms frequently encountered include:Fact|date=September 2008

*"BEM" "bug-eyed monster"
*"BNF" "big name fan"
*"FIAWOL" "fandom is a way of life"
*"LOC" "letter of comment"
*"sercon" "serious and constructive" (originally a pejorative; more recently, a non-judgmental term for the more serious end of the fannish spectrum)
*"SMOF" "secret master of fandom"

(For more terms, see the links to glossaries, below.)


Like other forms of jargon, fanspeak serves as a means of inclusion and exclusion within the fannish community. In the 1970s, the use of traditional fanspeak separated the fanzine and convention-attending subcommunity (sometimes distinguished as "trufen" or "true fans") from fans of science fiction movies and television shows ("mediafen"). (Note that the division of the community into trufen and others is rejected by many fans as inherently unfannish; for example, see entry "trufan" at

Today, subsets of fanspeak define subcommunities within fandom. For example, "ringers" for "fans of The Lord of the Rings" is used primarily by fans of the Peter Jackson films (see also Tolkien fandom).

External links

* [ Fancyclopedia I] by John Bristol (Jack Speer), the Fantasy Foundation, 1944
* [ Fancyclopedia II] published 1959
* [ Fancyclopedia III] (under construction) Joe Siclari
* [ Overview of Fanspeak] This was originally posted in rec.arts.sf.fandom in 1999 by Cally Soukup.
* [ "The Language of Science-Fiction Fan Magazines," Bruce Southard, "American Speech", Vol. 57, No. 1. (Spring, 1982), pp. 19-31]


* [ Dr. Gafia's Fan Terms] by rich brown
* [ Fandbook No. 1: A key to the terminology of science-fiction fandom] by Donald Franson for the National Fantasy Fan Federation, 1962. A classic glossary that predates laser printers, the internet, and media fandom.
* [ FanSpeak Dictionary of the Ann Arbor Science Fiction Association]
* [ Fanspeak Glossary at]
* [ Fanspeak Glossary at the NCF Guide]
* [ The Neo-Fan's Guide] edited by Bob Tucker (1955) at eFanzines. Another classic glossary that predates laser printers, the internet, and media fandom.
* [ The Conbledegook File]

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