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In May 1995, X-Files fans begin using the word Shipper for the first time. [1]

Currently, shipper is a word that is used to describe a fan's preference for characters' relationships.


Historical Definitions

The following definition dates to February 1999 on cmshaw's Fan Glossary as specific to X-Files fandom:

'Shipper, n. Also relationshipper. A fan of MSR fanfic and a proponent of canon M/S. shipper or shippy, adj.[2]

The following definition dates to March 2001 on Shipper World:

A shipper is someone who is in favour of a relationship between two lead characters on a TV program or book/film. ‘Shipper’ is used when someone is in favour of a male/female romantic relationship. (There are also the 'shippers of the same gender-relationships but - for now - that doesn't concern Shipperworld. The only main difference is that their fanfiction is a different category to male/female romance fanfiction - it's called 'slash fiction' because of the '/' used when listing the characters involved.)[3]

The following definition dates to May 2001 in the West Wing fandom:

Shipper: short for "relationship supporter." It means an author who supports a romantic relationship between a particular pair of characters (I've also heard "rooter" used in the same context), or a story that focuses on romance. [4]

The following definition dates to November 2002 in media fandom:

A 'shipper is a fan who promotes, projects and just plain revels in a relationship between their favorite characters. Legend has it the term started in X-Files fandom, but the Picard & Crusher fan's also used it. Wherever it began, 'shipper has become universally used with in fandom, unfortunately not always in a complimentary way. And that is why Shipper Haven exists. Shipper Haven was born at Media West Con several years ago. We wanted to provide a place where 'shippers could gather to talk about their favorite 'ships. This website and the Yahoogroups mailing list are extensions of that. [5]

The following definition dates to October 2003:

Shipper: 1)Person interested in boats. 2)What Sean Connery wears round the house instead of shoes. 3) Person interested in one relationship only in a show. Tends to get aggressive when one of theirs is paired off with someone else.[6]

The following definition dates to May 2004 in the Harry Potter, Horatio Hornblower and Pirates of the Caribbean fandoms:

Ships and Shipper:
this is a term that I’ve only seen (so far) in the Harry Potter fandom. A ’ship (relationship) is a romantic pairing of two canon characters—it can be het or slash. Shippers are writers and readers of a particular ship—like the Ron/Hermione ship or the Remus/Sirius ship.[7]

The following definition dates to December 5, 2005 in the Thunder Cats fandom:

shipper: Derived from 'relationship', it means someone who's gung-ho for certain romantic pairings in fan fics. Say, if you love fics that pair Lion-O with Cheetara, you could be said to be a shipper for them.;)[8]


The use of this term predates 1995.


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