My dad asked me to explain fandoms, fangirling and shipping a little more thoroughly to him and so I wrote an essay. Feel free to correct me if anything is wrong.



A fandom stands for fanatic domain (which is surprising as one naturally thinks that it is a combination of the words ‘fan’ and ‘kingdom’) and it is the general name given to the fanbases of books, movies, tv shows, celebrities, youtube channels, etcetera.

Although ‘fandom’ is the general term used for a fanbase, individual fanbases may have separate names (or nicknames) which they are known by. For example, fans of Harry Potter are known as ‘Potterheads’, fans of Taylor Swift are known as ‘Swifties’, and so on.

It has been my observation that while some fanbase names are highly popular and are very commonly used to address the fanbase, other fanbases (whether they have names or not) are not generally called by the name of their fanbase.

For example, one almost automatically addresses a fan of One Direction as a ‘Directioner’ (or as ‘crazy, psychotic loon’… it really depends on what sort of person you’re dealing with) but fans of Panic! At The Disco are very commonly known as just that: ‘Fans Of Panic! At The Disco’ while the fanbase’s name is actually ‘Sinners’.

People in fandoms are known as fangirls and fanboys (and as ‘crazy weirdos’, but once again, it really depends on who you’re dealing with) and expressing a great sense of happiness, excitement and/or admiration because something amazing has happened in your fandom is commonly known as fangirling/fanboying (although the former is used more)

Majority of fangirling happens online, on social media sites such as Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, G+, etc (although mostly on Tumblr). People express their thoughts, opinions and emotions on the latest episode/book/song/whatever and share their fan art, fan theories and fan fiction.

There are many terms used within a fandom which I shall now explain:

1) Ship-

A ‘ship’ is short for ‘relationship’. A ship refers to a romantic or platonic (although that doesn’t happen much) pairing. ‘Shipping’ something means you like the pairing and find it cute/amazing/fantabulous and would like the people in the pairing to get together/ stay together happily (if they are already together, that is).

_E.G- _
_PERSON A: Hey, do you ship Ron and Hermione from Harry Potter?

_PERSON B: Oh my god, yes! They are so cute together! I ship them so much!_

Ships have names. The names of the two people in the ship are combined to create a ship name.


_Person A: Magnus_

_Person B: Alec_

_Ship Name: Magnus + Alec = Malec_

Ships are good things to have. But ships can also be the cause of great stupidity. There are many shipping wars that take place online in which people are convinced that their ship beats the other and feel the need to fight it out using a series of carefully constructed words, hyperboles and GIFs.

Another example of the stupidity ships can cause are when one ships two celebrities who are not officially dating and become so invested in the ship that they feel the need to harass the celebrity online about the ship.

But as long as one respects all ships, all celebrities and realises that online harassment is not nice at all, ships are nice things which either cause you great happiness because they have cute moments or great pain because they have stopped having moments.

2) Canon-

This is simple. ‘Canon’ means that a theory or a ship is official and confirmed in the latest book, episode, interview, etc.


1:_In the sixth book of Harry Potter: A fan has a theory that Harry Potter himself is a horcrux._

_In the seventh book of Harry Potter: It is confirmed in a chapter that Harry Potter is, indeed, a horcrux. Thus, the fan’s theory is canon._

2: _In Blood Of Olympus: A fan says “I ship Will and Nico so much!”_
_ In Trials Of Apollo: Will and Nico are dating. Thus, the fan’s ship is canon._
3) Headcanon-

A ‘head canon’ is a theory that one has about something/someone in the fandom they are in which is not canon.


_”I have this head canon that the cat which was at the Potter’s house is actually a horcrux and Voldemort isn’t dead”_

_”Oh! That’s a really good head canon! Someone should ask J.K. Rowling that!”_

4) Fan Art

Nothing much to explain. Supposing there is a fictional character, one draws fan art of how they think the character would look or draw the character in one of their head canons, etc. One can also draw fan art of celebrities or movie/tv show characters.


Will Solace

5) Fan Fiction-

Again, nothing much to explain. Fan fiction is when you write fiction about your fandom with the characters in the fandom. Fan fiction is usually about a ship but sometimes not. There are sites in which people write fan fiction.

_E.G-_ (although people write fanficiton on wattpad, it mostly consists of original stories) (it is a site completely for fanfiction)_ (site completely for fan fiction)_

6) Cosplay/RP

‘Cosplay’ usually refers to dressing up as anime characters while RP, or ‘role play’ usually refers to dressing up as fictional/real characters. I am not too clear on the difference, really, I am just saying what I know.




Many hyperboles are used in fandoms. Thus, do not get frightened if you come across a post saying something like “OK BUT SELENA’S NEW SONG KILLED ME I AM DEAD RIP ME” or something like “YES BUT THAT NEW EPISODE WITH DOUBLE BLACK?!?!?!?!? MY SKIN IN CLEAR, MY CROPS HAVE BEEN WATERED AND THE SUN IS SHINING AGAIN!”.

If you plan on joining a fandom soon, I advise you to stay out of heated fandom discourse and ship wars. Have fun in the mafia that is tamely known as fandom.

_For further information, you can read A Fangirl’s Guide To The Galaxy by Sam Maggs or go on Tumblr and learn through experience_



(Yeah, I actually have zilch idea whether the term cosplay can be used for non anime dressing up but I wrote what I think it is. Can anyone explain this whole cosplay/rp thing???)

(Also I am not completely sure if Fandom actually stands for Fanatic Domain but I remember reading it somewhere. Correct me if wrong)

I hope my dad does not get too frightened.

Via XoX





2 Comments Add yours

  1. Excellent explanation! I know I’ve struggled explaining these exact things to my mom before… still not entirely sure she gets it tbh

    1. Me: V says:

      The struggle is real 😉

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