Updated: Sep 29, 2022
Written by: Katherine Penman
The vocabulary within fandoms is vast and ever growing, it can be difficult to keep up with and for newcomers to learn! The introduction and evolution of the word “stan” within fandoms has made many wonder: what is the difference between a fan and a stan?
The word “stan” is a combination of the words fan and stalker. Stan is also the name of an Eminem song in which he raps about an obsessive fan named Stan. It started as a way to describe someone who took it too far, showing up to celebrities' houses, finding out what hotels they are staying in while on tour, or even booking the same flights as them in hopes of seeing them. While the term began as a way to describe fans who went too far and was used as an insult, today the word's meaning has changed.
Many fans no longer see the word as an insult but instead see it as a way to express how they feel about an artist or celebrity. The word has seemed to lose its negative connotation and now means someone who is a step above a fan. A fan may be someone who just enjoys the music, but a stan is someone who would buy every album.
As the internet picked up the word more and more, it also began to be used as a verb. You could say, “I stan Harry Styles” instead of “I'm a stan”. It’s also become a sort of trend to express that you should become a fan of an artist! Other fans will tell you you should stan their faves and make a claim. For example a fan may tweet, “stan Ariana Grande for clear skin”.
The terms aren’t mandatory, and it’s up to you which you prefer to use for yourself! You can be really dedicated to a group but still refer to yourself as a fan! Fans also may prefer to use the official fandom names of artists instead of stan to show their dedication. Instead of saying they're a stan of Taylor Swift, they can say they’re a Swiftie.
While it started out as a negative, today it seems many within fandoms see the words fan and stan almost as synonyms. They can be interchangeable, and it’s up to you to decide which you prefer to use!
If you want to get more involved in fan communities,