Valentine’s Day is coming and that means love is in the air. Everywhere we look is chocolate, hearts and the color red. However in fandom spaces, you may see some other words or acronyms floating around to describe dream couples from their favorite franchises. Wanted to know what those mean but too afraid to ask? Then look no further, as we explore the romantic terminology used in fandom spaces.

What is Shipping?

Shipping is one of the biggest terms used in fandom when it comes to romance. You’ve probably heard people saying “I ship it” as a joke, or alternatively posting this phrase underneath a picture of two characters together. The term shipping is used when a fan wants two or more characters to be romantically involved. It is one of the many ways fans engage with their fandom, usually through sharing fanart of their shipped characters, or writing fanfiction of them in different scenarios. People can have multiple ships, or just one. Sometimes people have one ship that they feel passionate about, called an OTP, which we will get into later.

The word shipping actually comes from the word relationship. It stems all from the X-Files fandom, as fans believed that the protagonists Fox Mulder and Dana Scully should be in a romantic relationship. Originally having called themselves “relationshippers”, eventually being shortened to shipper, which has resulted in the term used today.

Source: IMDb

What is an OTP?

“OTP” stands for One True Pairing. Saying all those words is a little bit of a mouthful, so has been shortened to just OTP. This is a term used to refer to someone’s favorite couple in a franchise. This may be a couple that has been made canon by the creators, or two characters that the person thinks would make a good couple.

Some people are very devoted to their OTPs, and may only look up fanart or fanfiction of their OTP. This can create spaces for likeminded individuals to share their thoughts and theories about the pairing that they all enjoy watching and reading about. Some people have been so extreme as to deny other ships that are not their OTP, including the creators themselves. However, this is very rare.

What is Multishipping?

Unlike OTP which surrounds just one ship, multishipping is the term for when a fan supports multiple relationships in a franchise. This can also mean shipping the same character with multiple different other characters. Some people may support multiple relationships within a franchise, but not consider themselves to be multishippers. Not every multishipper likes one character to be paired with multiple others, and sometimes just supports multiple relationship pairings in one fandom.

What are Slashers?

If you’re deep into fandom spaces, there is a chance you have come across the term slashers. This term refers to those who predominantly read about or enjoy shipping characters that are the same gender. The term “slashing” comes from slash fiction, which also refers to fiction that follows the relationship between characters that are the same gender.

Slashing originally came from the Star Trek fandom. People who shipped Kirk with Spock were referred to as slashers not only because of the association, but the way that the pairing would be written – as Kirk/Spock. The use of the slash referred to them being partnered together.


This is a brief look into the world of fandom and shipping terms. There are likely many more phrases – and even more pairings that haven’t been discussed. Do you have a favorite shipping? Do you believe in having an OTP, or are you a multishipper? Let us know in the comments!