Fanfiction Terms: Word Search Answers and Definitions

If you attended the “Insert Witty Title Here: Fanfiction’s Place in Fandom” presentation and discussion at Anime California 2014 in Orange County, you probably got a handout with a fun fanfiction and fandom terminology word search on it.

Did you find all the words? Do you know what they all mean? If not, don’t fear! The answers are here!

First, here are all the words from the word search, presented with their definitions in alphabetical order:


  • Anime – A term used to refer to Japanese cartoons. The Japanese word “„āĘ„Éč„É°” is written in katakana, the written language used for borrowed or loan words, since the word is actually a shortened form of “animation.”
  • Bishonen – A Japanese word that means “Pretty boy,” and¬†often refers to boys and men that appear, especially in Japanese anime and comics, as handsome, but not to the same Westernized definition of the word. Rather, their handsomeness stems from almost effeminate qualities, such as slender hands or long fingers, expressive eyes, and so forth.
  • Bishoujo – Similar to¬†Bishonen, it’s a Japanese word that means “Pretty girl.” Just as with the word “handsome,” there’s no one definition for what makes a “pretty girl.” Often anime that target girls or young women, or that feature “bishoujo” characters are often romantic and/or dramatic in nature, such as the series¬†Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon (lit. Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon), where the titular “pretty guardians” are fourteen-year-old schoolgirls who use magic to defend Earth against evil.¬†
  • BNF – An acronym that stands for “Big Name Fan.” Someone who is generally well-regarded in fandom and is seen as an important and/or frequent contributor, be it to fannish discussions, fanfiction archives, fanart galleries, and so forth. Sometimes used in a derogatory sense, to refer to someone who¬†thinks of themselves as an important person in fandom, even if they’re on the same level as every other fan.
  • Concrit – A portmanteau for the words “constructive criticism.” A lot of fans don’t know the difference between concrit and¬†flames (a term that refers to rude feedback given on any fanwork), but the whole point of ¬†constructive criticism is that it helps build something–in other words, the author’s skills or knowledge, the foundation of the story and its characters, plot, etc.¬†
  • Crossover – A term referring to when multiple fandoms are combined in a single story. This can happen canonically in many television shows, but when it happens in anime, it’s usually as a “cameo” or an “Easter Egg,” not where characters from one series actually meet and interact with the characters from another series.
  • DeadFic – A story that was left unfinished. Unlike the term¬†WIP (Work in Progress), a DeadFic is one with increasingly larger gaps of time¬†between updates, until finally it seems like the story is simply hanging in the ether–not formally cancelled or put on hiatus by the author, but not updated any time recently, either.
  • Doujinshi – A Japanese word (ŚźĆšļļŤ™Ć) that translates to “same person periodical,” somewhat similar to “self-publication.” In fandom, the term typically refers to fan-made stories, comics, and games. Many published comic authors will publish doujinshi even after they’ve gotten contracts from major publishing houses, while others started out as doujinshi authors and artists and later ended up getting picked up by publishers.
  • Fanon – A portmanteau of the words “fan” and “canon,” referring to information widely believed about a series that is actually perpetuated by fans. It can also be used to refer to information that comes from debatable sources, such as interviews, scripts, magazines, and licensed novels. It’s synonymous with the term¬†headcanon. Some popular examples you may have heard of include Sailor Moon going out of her way to never, ever kill anybody or anything, Inuyasha’s brother Sesshomaru being the “Demon Lord of the Western Lands,” and not every Amazon from¬†Ranma 1/2 has a name similar to a toiletry item.
  • Flashfic¬† – A term referring to extremely short fanfiction, although the actual length varies. There are lots of similar or related terms, including¬†drabble¬†(typically referring to fics of exactly 100 words, where a¬†double drabble would be 200), minifics,¬†micro fiction, and more. The term is also used outside fandom, to refer to especially short stories. Writing such short stories could be thought of as a challenge–to convey a story in a specific number of words or fewer–or simply a style choice.
  • Genfic¬†– A portmanteau of the words “general” and “fiction,” referring to stories that don’t feature pairings/romance (shipping) of any kind. Like many of the other terms on this list, the term can be debated; it might also refer to stories where romance or relationships aren’t at the core of the story, but they are/can still be mentioned.
  • Kink¬†– Refers to a story or art containing particular “non-normal” preferences, typically sexual in nature (but not always). A “kink” is a very personal thing, and can vary from person to person; a common acronym seen in many challenges is YKINMK (Your Kink Is Not My Kink). When people do enjoy the same kink, they can often both be satisfied by the same story or art. See this LiveJournal post by Anna S. for a fairly exhaustive list of many fandom kinks.
  • Mary¬†Sue¬†– An original character inserted into a story that has a tendency of being a glamorized/idealized version of the author. Many times such a character has out-of-place characteristics or traits, including their name, that don’t mesh with the fandom’s setting. Often female, she will typically capture the attention of all the canonical characters, for better or for worse, save the day, be the “-est” (youngest, smartest, whatever), and not have any real consequences to her poorly-thought-out decisions or actions. See this page for more info on identifying a Mary Sue, and when canon characters¬†aren’t Mary Sues. You can also find the Universal Mary Sue Litmus Test. Male Sues are often called¬†Marty Stu or¬†Gary Stus.
  • Meme – An Internet abbreviation for the word “phenomenon,” and refers to things that have gone viral or gotten extremely popular. Some example fandom memes: “And Not a Single F*ck Was Given That Day” (Pok√©mon),
  • MPREG – An abbreviation for the term “male pregnancy,” where male characters can get pregnant somehow, be it because of alien physiology, experimentation, magic, or something else….
  • MST¬†– An acronym that stands for “Mystery Science Theatre,” wherein a guy stuck in space watching bad movies alongside two robots he created. In fandom, the term typically refers to a running commentary made by one person on top of another person’s work, such as a fanfic. This is meant to be a form of humorous satire, and might also be called¬†sporking.
  • Oneshot – A standalone story, or a story that is only one “chapter.” These stories aren’t part of an existing series or universe, don’t have any prequels or sequels (at least not those that you need to read to understand the story). These are typically posted all at once, not broken up and posted in any sort of sequential order.¬†
  • OOC¬†– An acronym that stands for “out-of-character,” when the characterization presented by an author in a fanfic or comic is different from what is seen or generally understood by fans watching or reading the original source material. For example, having Usagi from Sailor Moon being a chain smoker, or Naruto being shy, quiet, and studious.
  • Otaku¬†– A Japanese word that literally means “house.” It used to be used in a derogatory sense to refer to fans of things, especially anime and manga, and could be considered equivalent to the term “homebody.” But nowadays, many fans (especially those outside of Japan) wear the “otaku” badge with pride. While the term “fan” can seem almost casual, people who self-identify as “otaku” are¬†often die-hard or very passionate fans.
  • PWP¬†– An acronym that stands for either “Plot? What Plot” or “Porn Without Plot” in reference to stories that aren’t about the plot, but about the sex.
  • Round Robin¬†– The fanfiction equivalent of a Telephone game, where one person starts a story and then leaves it incomplete, handing it off to someone else to add to, and then another person, and so on. Done intentionally, not because a story is actually left unfinished by its original author.
  • Seinen – A Japanese term that literally translates to “young man.” It typically refers to the young male demographic that is typically aged 17 and up, often through one’s late 30s or early 40s. Because of the older target audience, series that fall into this demographic are often more mature and sophisticated in nature, especially when compared to¬†shounen shows targeted towards younger boys.
  • Self-Insert – It¬†is possible to insert yourself into a fanfiction without becoming a¬†Mary Sue, but it’s not typically seen or easily done. But, as the name implies, a self-insert is the term used when an author inserts him or herself into their own fanfiction story or art.
  • Shipping – Short for “relationshipping,” and used to refer to supporting for or wishing for a particular pairing, often romantic in nature. . Other forms include¬†ship (noun), referring to the relationship itself…and not necessarily between (just) two people. Used as follows: “My ship isn’t canon at all, but I still enjoy it.” There’s also the¬†verb¬†ship, used in a context such as “I ship Seto and Anzu; do you ship anyone from¬†Yu-Gi-Oh!?”
  • Slash¬†– Refers to male x male relationships. Seen especially outside of Japanese fandoms, such as Western television shows, movies, and books. When used for Japanese media, it’s often called¬†yaoi. When talking about female x female relationships, this is often called¬†femmeslash or¬†yuri.
  • Squick – Sort of the opposite of kink, it’s something that doesn’t “float your boat” or “tickle your fancy.” For whatever reason, it just doesn’t do anything for you. It makes you feel kind of odd, maybe even a little gross–sort of like a squishy, icky feeling (the word might be a contraction of the words “squeamish” and “ick”). Sometimes that feeling can be intense, while other times it’s simply a mild dislike–it depends on the context and your own personal feeling. For example,¬†“the “embarrassment squick,” where you can’t stand to watch or read someone humiliate themselves in public. In other words, not all squicks have anything to do with sex or sexual proclivities, just as kinks, despite their name, don’t, either.
  • Troll¬† – Someone who posts online somewhere in an effort to elicit negative feedback or feelings, and sustain controversy, arguments, and debate. Trolls enjoy stirring up trouble, asking “stupid” questions, and generally being jerks. Trolls might actually be genuine fans who want to say something under the guise of anonymity, but not all¬†anonymice are trolls, and not all¬†sockpuppets are, either (though sockpuppets are generally regarded as something a troll would have, since they exist purely to “puppet” what the actual account holder has already said, to make it appear as if they have complete strangers agreeing with them).
  • Trope¬†¬†– A common plot device (not something “dull, uninteresting” or “trite” though–in other words, not a clich√©). Check out for an exhaustive compilation of tropes used throughout many media (not just TV). Tropes originate in fandoms, but many fandoms also utilize existing tropes, such as Transformation Sequence; Instant Awesome, Just Add Mecha, and Calling Your Attacks. WARNING: You may not realize how much time will pass on TVTropes without your knowledge. Proceed at your own risk.
  • WAFF¬†– An acronym that stands for “Warm And Fuzzy Feelings,” which romantic or friendship-centric stories can often be. Contrast with TAFF (“Twisted and Fuzzy Feelings”), which may describe more angsty or dramatic stories that still “give you the feels.”
  • WIP¬†¬†– An acronym that means “Work in Progress.”
  • Yaoi – Either a Japanese abbreviation of sorts or a shortened expression. It can stand for either¬†Yama nashi, oshi nashi,¬†imi nashi, which roughly translates to “No peak, no point, no meaning,” or¬†Yamete, oshiri ga itai! which means “Stop it! My ass hurts!” It refers to male x male relationships. Also known as¬†slash. Pronounced as “Yah-oy” (the Japanese way) or “Yowie” (the “Japenglish” way).
  • Yuri ¬†– A Japanese word that means “lily,” and refers to female x female relationships. Also known as¬†femmeslash. Pronounced with a rolled-r (l) sound, like “You-ree.”

Answers to the Word Search found in the "Insert Witty Title Here" handout.

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