This question comes from arises from cases of shipping as in (romantic) relationship - ping; The Psychology of Shipping and The Psychology of Shipping.

What happened was that I saw this forum where 1 person, person X, thought characters A and B would end up in a relationship and then another person, person Y, who didn't think so, misinterpreted person X as saying 'Even though I don't have basis to think A and B will end up in a relationship, I like the idea' and then criticised person X for the desire not the prediction.

My goal is to ask for a term to distinguish the ff 2 cases of shipping:

  1. Prediction: I think characters A and B will end up in a relationship (eg HIMYM / HIMYF; Definitely, Maybe; The Quintessential Quintuplets), but I don't necessarily have any opinion about this relationship (eg whether it is better than another eg a possible relationship between characters A and C).

  2. Wanting: I would like characters A and B to be in a relationship. I think they will be good together. I think that this relationship would be better than a possible relationship between characters A and C.

Usually when people say they 'ship' A and B, it's more of type 2. How would someone distinguish themselves as a Case 1 shipper aside from linking to this Stack Exchange post?

But then I realised I can actually generalise this question to asking how to distinguish thinking something will happen vs wanting something to happen. How do I do this in general?

Guess: 1 idea I had in mind is using the terms positive vs normative statements. Positive is about 'what is', and normative is about 'what should be'. For example in economics (whence positive vs normative economics), 1 might say a stock price is this, but then another might say said stock is undervalued and should be priced much higher. Can positive extend to 'what I think will be'?

If so, then I guess for the case of the shipping I'll just say positive shipper vs normative shipper.


I actually did sort of ask this before in English SE and then in Law SE when I asked the opposite of 'argumentative' and then I got 'factual'. I think 'factual' has a similar problem to 'positive' in that they're both talking about 'what is' but not necessarily 'what I think will be'.

  • The sense/s of the verb you mention haven't made it into many reputable dictionaries so far. Collins adds a further, seemingly causative, subsense: to promote or ... a romantic relationship between. The subsenses haven't settled down to an agreed default usage yet. The word is inherently ambiguous, multiply. May 24 at 15:32
  • 1
    Maybe they say, “I’m really more of a prognosticatorial shipper.”
    – Jim
    May 24 at 16:26
  • @EdwinAshworth Hmmmm...ah I have an idea. How about never mind the shipping and just distinguish between thinking something will happen vs wanting something to happen?
    – BCLC
    May 24 at 16:38
  • 1
    This is a sensible question to ask, but it may not be capable of a definite answer, as the term is fairly new and appears only in highly informal contexts, so the boundaries of its meaning may still be in a state of flux. Nevertheless, it is possible that somebody better versed in the relevant slang will be able to post a definite answer, so the question should remain open.
    – jsw29
    May 24 at 21:01
  • 1
    @BCLC, several of your comments on this page seem to indicate that you want to ask some new question, different from this one. If so, and if it is within the scope of this site, you should post it on a separate page.
    – jsw29
    May 25 at 14:48

1 Answer 1


You should have given us at least one dictionary definition!


take an interest in or hope for a romantic relationship between (fictional characters or famous people), whether or not the romance actually exists: I’m shipping for those guys—they would make a great couple!

This seems to be compatible with Urban Dictionary and your #2.

Frankly your best bet might be to ask around among people familiar with this modern usage of the word.

  • Hmmmm...ah I have an idea. How about never mind the shipping and just distinguish between thinking something will happen vs wanting something to happen?
    – BCLC
    May 24 at 16:39
  • It is not clear that the quoted definition provides a definite answer to the question, as 'take an interest' is compatible with both 1. and 2.
    – jsw29
    May 24 at 20:52
  • @jsw29 - I was going by the example sentence in the dictionary entry, and by Urban Dictionary -- but otherwise I have never heard or seen "ship" used in this sense. May 24 at 21:22
  • aparente001 and @jsw29 I edited the question.
    – BCLC
    May 26 at 6:39
  • 1
    You might be better off starting over from scratch with a brand new question -- but how's this? I predict X, but I have no [personal] preference [stake in the game, horse in the race, etc.]. May 26 at 14:40

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