What Does 'Stan' Mean? A Simple Guide To The Slang Internet Term Everyone's Using

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What Does Stan Mean? A Simple Guide To The Slang Internet Term Everyone's Using
Contributor
Self

I’ve heard many things over the years. When I was younger, we used phrases like “cowabunga” and “all that and a bag of chips.” When I entered my teenage years, we embraced words like “crunk” and “scrub.”

And now? Now my world is full of acronyms of BTW and BRB, of LOL and TTYL, and of IMO and ICYMI.

But recently, I heard a term which stumped me: stan. (I mean, Stan is a boy’s name, right? A common moniker but nothing more?)

Well, it turns out that stan has an alternative meaning — and brace yourself, you may be surprised to by its definition and its origin. 

What does stan mean?

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You see, according to Urban Dictionary, “a ‘stan’ is an overzealous [and/or] maniacal fan for a celebrity, [singer, performer] or athlete.” Or, to put it another way, a stan is “an over obsessed fan” who doesn’t just enjoy the music, acting, or performances of their favorite celebrity — they fixate on it.

They're the committed. They're dedicated. They're diehard. (Think Lady Gaga’s “little monsters,” Justin Bieber’s “beliebers,” and members of Beyoncé’s “beyhive.”)

However, it is important to note that not all stans are benign; some stans cross a line.

In fact, one definition on Urban Dictionary compares stans to stalkers, even citing that the word stan is “formed from the [combination of]... stalker and fan: stalker + fan = stan.”)

So, which meaning is accurate? Well, both.

Stans are obsessed fans who can take a dark turn, and the original usage of stan was dark indeed.

In 2000, Eminem released a song entitled “Stan” about a super fan who ended up killing himself and his pregnant girlfriend because Eminem did not acknowledge him. The rapper did not write him back.

Of course, the song was fictional. None of Eminem’s fans acted out in this manner.

But the song did bring to light the terrifying and, at times, unhealthy side of fandom — i.e., obsession isn’t always what it seems.

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That said, Eminem finds his influence on the English language funny. In 2013, Eminem learned his song had inspired its present day usage during a Rolling Stone interview and said that following:

You know "Stan" has long since entered the lexicon? People say, "I'm an Eminem Stan" or "I Stan for Katy Perry."

Wow, that's crazy. Oh, that's funny.

It's a little scary because Stan is insane.

Right... and Stan's dead! He actually died on that record. But I always had his little brother in the back of my mind. He just needed time to grow up. And come and kill me.

So how can you incorporate "stan" into your day-to-day language?

Well, simply. Check out the following examples:

1. Person 1: These kids have been in line for the Kesha concert for hours now. 

Person 2: Seriously? What a bunch of stans.

2. He has millions of stans. Guys — and gals — are obsessed with him.

3. I am such a stan of Liam Hemsworth, it’s not even funny.

4. You’re not a real stan; if you were you would have listened to Kayne’s new album already.

5. Diehard stans know that “Sweetest Devotion” is a song about being a mom.

That said, whether you're a stan or a fan doesn’t matter.

What matters is that you — and your obsession — stay healthy, and that you do not end up on the news. (As Stan does in that aptly named song.)

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Nicole Lane is a wife, mother, writer, and regular contributor for YourTango. She's a staunch defender of women's rights, believes firmly in equality and parity, and is an advocate for women's health.