Prompted by the question: " How did kool-aid come to be the drink of fanboys? "

Wikipedia's explanation on "Fanboy (disambiguation)" provides:

A fanboy is a person considered to belong to one or more fandoms to a point of obsession.

Wiktionary says:

(fandom slang) Someone (normally male) who is utterly devoted to a single subject or hobby, often to the point where it is considered an obsession.

While the general term "fan" derives from "fanatic", its current usage, in the US at least, has waned to be roughly synonymous with "admirer" or "someone who is fond of --."

Are the terms "fanboy" and "fangirl" gender-specific synonyms of "fan" or are they supposed to convey the same "fanatic" intensity that "fan" once had? Are "fanboy" and "fangirl" intended to be used in a derisive way?

  • Fangirl is more like... Vicious types. Makes Voldy seem like a harmless kitten compared to a stampede of fangirls running towards you. shudders Commented Aug 17, 2011 at 16:21

3 Answers 3


In my opinion it's mostly a difference in the degree of admiration and/or devotion:

  • A fan of a band might have most of their records and visit their concerts when they happen to be somewhere near him.

  • A fanboy has all of their records (including those bootleg records and a few unreleased ones) and goes to all of their concerts, even if they are on a different continent.
    Actually "fanboy" might start earlier than that, but that's the basic idea.

Often the term fanboy also implies that the devotion to the topic of his fandom is blind and unreflected. A commonly used term is "Apple fanboy" for people who will praise all Apple products for being perfect and not listening when someone makes a reasonable argument that some little thing that came from Apple is less than perfect.

The implication here is that discussion with a "fanboy" about his topic has become impossible because he's beyond the realm of reason.

I don't know if "fan" was ever meant to indicate such a level of devotion.

  • 7
    fan was (origininally) just a shortening of fanatic, so I'd say the answer to your last point was yes. Commented Aug 17, 2011 at 15:10
  • 2
    +1 for "Apple Fanboy" description. Man I dislike those guys! Commented Aug 17, 2011 at 20:33
  • @TimLymington fan was originally just a shortening of fanatic - there's a strong and convincing and well-known case that it might well come from the noun fancy although the jury's still out ... :) Commented Oct 14, 2014 at 15:41

Yes, "fanboy" (sometimes seen as "fanboi") is intended to be derogatory. The mere fact that the diminutive "boy" is attached to it should tell you that. The implication is that we are talking about someone who is not really a man. He probably still lives in his mom's basement, and whatnot.

There also is an implication in the word that the person in question will find a way to argue in support of the object of their fandom, no matter what the topic or situation.

"Fangirl" oddly isn't quite as derogatory. Partly, this is because "girl" isn't as derogatory as "boy". It could also have to do with the relative rarity of females in the realms of fandom. It could also have to do with the fact that we have other words (e.g., groupie) for the truly extreme female fans, so "fangirl" just gets the weaker leftovers.

I'd also like to note that (at least in the USA) "Fan" is typically used in a sports context, whereas "fanboy" is typically used for more geeky topics like Science Fiction. Both are now used outside their natural milieu, but as borrowings.

For example:

A crazy guy who paints himself blue and stands out in freezing weather with no shirt to watch his favorite football team play would be a fan.

A crazy guy who paints himself blue and stands out in freezing weather with no shirt to get tickets to see The Smurfs on opening day would be a fanboy.

  • +1 for the distinction between sports fans and geeky fanboys. Herein likes the distinction, methinks. And fangirl is just the feminine version of fanboy, once girls decided they wanted to be considered geeky as well.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Commented Aug 17, 2011 at 16:29
  • +1 for the wonderful mental picture of a grown man painting himself blue and standing in line for tickets to see The Smurfs.
    – oosterwal
    Commented Aug 17, 2011 at 17:10
  • ...I now know what my Halloween costume will be this year.
    – oosterwal
    Commented Aug 17, 2011 at 19:02
  • 5
    @KitΘδς - An odd side-effect of the inherent sexism of society is that just substituting female afixes for male ones does not necessarily make the two terms completely equivalent.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Aug 17, 2011 at 19:22
  • 2
    @oosterwal - Pictures, or it didn't happen. :-)
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Sep 30, 2011 at 14:13

A fanboy is someone from many or one tv - book - movie fandoms and is devoted addicted and a bit of stalker to the 'idol' . Usually rare and surrounded by fan girls

Fangirls love reading and watching they fav tv shows. The book will always be better than the film. So devoted to there fandom or fandoms they will sometimes fight over Fangirls on which is best. Are quite vicious. Form their own clans. And stampede the common 'idol'


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.