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What It Means To Be A 'Stan' — How One Eminem Song Sparked A Whole New Type Of Fan

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We've all heard phrases evolve over the years. Personally, when I was younger, I used phrases like “cowabunga” and “all that and a bag of chips.” When I entered my teenage years, I embraced words like “crunk” and “scrub.”

But now, in the internet age, everyone's collective world is full of acronyms and slang terms like SMH, fam, no cap, and even weirder ones, like FTFY.

A few years ago, I heard a term that 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 you may be surprised to by its definition and origin.

What is a stan?

In slang terms, according to Urban Dictionary, a "stan" is "an overzealous [and/or] maniacal fan for a celebrity, [singer, performer] or athlete.”

To put it another way, a stan (which is a mashup of the words "stalker" and "fan," prounounced the same way you would the name) is “an over obsessed fan” who doesn’t just enjoy the music, acting, or performances of their favorite artist or celebrity — they fixate on it.

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

Even Ariana Grande addressed her stans on social media, tweeting them and sending out physical stan cards in the mail.

"y’all are the only reason i come on here i promise. like please mute me (if u haven’t already) if you’re not a stan bc i 100% get it, it’s gotta be rough lmao. i’d absolutely block me," she wrote in a now-deleted tweet.

Usage of "stan" has become so pervasive that there are online stan Twitter accounts and people who own their stan identity on TikTok.

It's incredibly versatile, too, with an ability to be used as either noun:

Or a verb:

Where did the term stan come from?

In 2000, Eminem released a song entitled “Stan” on his album "The Marshall Mathers LP."

The song is about an obsessed fan named Stan who ends up killing himself and his pregnant girlfriend because Eminem did not acknowledge him.

Luckily, Stan is not a true story.

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.

That said, Eminem finds his influence on the English language funny.

In 2013, during a Rolling Stone interview, Eminem learned his song "Stan" had inspired its present-day usage, where he called the usage "crazy" but "funny."

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Is being a 'stan' a bad thing?

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 stan origin is dark indeed.

However, people often use the word "stan" to describe their approval of a certain thing. For example, when two celebrities begin to date and the internet goes wild over how great of a match they are, they may say "I stan them as a couple." And there's certainly no harm in that.

Examples Of How To Use Stan In A Sentence

How can you incorporate "stan" into your day-to-day language? It's pretty simple, as "stan" can be used as both a noun and a verb. Check out the following examples:

1. To describe fans' devotion to an artist

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

Person 2: Seriously? What a bunch of stans."

2. To describe a celebrity's obsessed fanbase

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

3. To describe a strong love of a specific celebrity

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

4. To call out a lack of devotion in other supposed fans

"You’re not a real stan; if you were, you would have listened to Taylor's new album already."

5. To question someone's distaste

"Anyone with actual good taste stans this TV show."

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 is a staunch defender of women's rights, she believes firmly in equality and parity, and she is an advocate for women's health, mental health, and sexuality.

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