the jargon of yaoi: a guide to fujoshi slang

yaoi-speak

the fujoshi reads... in Lucky Star by Kagami Yoshimizu

the fujoshi reads…
in Lucky Star by Kagami Yoshimizu

Every group has own verbal shorthand, and fujoshi, fudanshi, and otaku are no exception. For those new to yaoi, it can be frustrating when you see words like noncon, tachi, bara, reversi, and shotacon being tossed around.

I wish I could say this is a definitive guide to yaoi definitions, but, well, I’m sure it’s not. I hope, though, that this list will be useful as you wander through Yaoiland. The list also includes terms not exclusive to yaoi but that turn up often enough in manga and anime fandoms that they’re useful to know.

If you notice any mistakes or any jargon I’ve left out, or if you have any alternative definitions that you’d like to put forward, please do speak up in the comments section!


the boyxboy genre itself:

There is no real consensus on the definition of these terms — in fact, there are a lot of arguments about the “best” or “right” definitions; I can only tell you that this is how I will be using these words (generally) on this site.
a bit of bara... Priapus by Mentaiko

a bit of bara
Priapus by Mentaiko

bara — hyper-sexual, very graphic stories of sex between muscular, often Schwartzenegger-esque men; primarily aimed at a gay male audience

boys’ Love (BL) — stories that feature romance or sexual relationships between men, typically written by women and marketed to a primarily female audience. This is an umbrella category for both shounen-ai and yaoi. For more on BL as a genre, see begin at the beginning: what is yaoi?

hard yaoi (or hentai yaoi) — yaoi stories where male characters are shown having very graphic sex, and/or there is significant, intense noncon, BDSM, other potentially objectionable sexual fetishes, or violence

shounen-ai — stories that feature romance (or the desire for romance) between men, but either nothing sexual happens or little more than making out is shown (even if they might be having sex behind the scenes)

shotacon (shota) — stories that feature adults in romantic or sexual relationships with underage boys. Some people define shota as any relationship between an adult and a minor. While I believe this is appropriate in real life, in yaoi this term is more frequently used to refer to preadolescents being portrayed in sexual situations (people argue about what age is “preadolescent”, but it’s usually defined as somewhere between 12-14).

yaoi — stories where male characters are shown having any form of sexual contact that can lead to orgasm (even if you only catch a glimpse). The term “yaoi” comes from “Yama nashi, ochi nashi, imi nashi” (“No climax, no fall, no meaning”); in other words, if there’s no sex, what’s the point? Well, that’s one interpretation. I’ve also seen the phrase translated as “without climax, punch line, or meaning,” which would be a more self-deprecating statement about the manga having nothing to offer except the sex (probably meant either ironically or sarcastically). Some fujoshi have come up with a funnier version: “Yamete, oshiriga itai!” (“Stop, my butt hurts!”). Sexual contact in yaoi may or may not be consensual, but usually noncon sexual activity is romanticized, often as a precursor to love (no matter how unrealistic that progression is, that’s currently the genre’s standard trope).

I know that sounded all cut and dry, but here’s the thing — I’m also prone to use yaoi as an umbrella category, interchangeable with BL. Sorry about that.


yaoi (and manga/anime) jargon:


____x____ (ie- boyxboy, SamxDean, HaruxMakoto) — the x indicates that the two people (or whatever) are being portrayed in a romantic/sexual relationship

animix... Yebisu Celebrities by Fuwa Shinri

animix
Yebisu Celebrities by Fuwa Shinri

801 — “yaoi” — apparently Japanese teens have a creative system of using numbers to represent words (for sending quick messages) — the 8 stands for “ya” (“yattsu” is one way to say 8), the 0 is for “o“, obviously, and the 1 is “i” from “ichi” (which means 1). Pretty clever, ne?

animix — an “almost anime” in which the only thing that’s consistently animated is characters’ mouths. Effects such as panning and adjusting lighting are used to make the picture look more dynamic.

AV — adult video (porn)

bishounen (bishies)very good-looking young men

brother complex (brocon) — being overly attached to one’s brother (possibly, but not necessarily, sexually)

bukkake — a hentai act in which a number of men, um, let “it” out on the face or body of a submissive (female or uke) partner (geez, I’m trying not to go too far over the nsfw line, ok? Bukkake is rare in BL and only tends to show up occasionally in hard yaoi)

canon — used in opposition to shipping, refers to a pairing that is part of the official manga/anime, a “real” couple you actually see being a couple in the published/broadcast story. Canon comes from “canonical”, something that is considered authoritative or genuine, especially in terms of literature.

compensated dating — when a man compensates a younger partner for dating him by giving money or lavish gifts (the dating often but not always includes sex)

cosplay (in manga, not IRL) — in yaoi, cosplay usually refers to dressing up in costumes intended to sexually excite one’s partner (the naked apron and cat ears with, um, inserted tail are both quite popular).

crack pairing/ship — an extreme form of shipping, referring to impossible pairings, such as characters who hate each other or characters from unrelated stories. Pairings that are impossibly at odds with canon. The term comes from the idea that you’d have to be “on crack” to support them.

ecchi — refers to lewd or sexual behaviors, describes things that are “dirty” or “naughty” (sexually), or describes someone who is lewd or lecherous (a milder, more innocent term than hentai)

ero — from “eros” — referring to sexual love or desire, similar to ecchi

father complex —being overly attached to one’s father (possibly, but not necessarily, sexually); loosely derived from Freudian terminology

a drama CD featuring a brother complex Brother by Ougi Yuzuha

a drama CD featuring a brother complex
Brother by Ougi Yuzuha

doujinshi/doujin/dj’s — self-published manga, whether original or based on others’ stories. In yaoi these often involve shipping characters from non-yaoi stories (see “ship”, below).

drama CD — audio performance of a manga’s story; yes, in yaoi that includes the sex scenes (headphones on, folks).

fujoshi — translates as “rotten girl” — for female fans of BL

fudanshi — translates as “rotten boy” — for male fans of BL (often misspelled online as fundashi)

goukon — a social gathering where equal numbers of single males and females are invited to drink and interact with the intention of finding romantic partners

hentai (H)— a perversion, bizarre sexual desire, fetish, or act (sometimes in yaoi, straight characters will accuse gay characters of being hentai simply for being gay); IRL, often refers to heterosexual porn

host club — a bar where one pays by the hour to be fawned over by male “hosts” — the illusion of romance and sexual attraction are sold, as are very expensive drinks (there are also hostess clubs); some host clubs expect hosts to accompany clients outside of club hours, which may or may not include sex.

IRL – in real life (as opposed to online)

kagema — a term only used in historical yaoi — young male prostitutes who serviced both male and female clients but took the uke role with male clients

one of the most famous yaoi light novels translated into English: Ai no Kusabi by Rieko Yoshihara

one of the most famous yaoi light novels translated into English: Ai no Kusabi by Rieko Yoshihara

light novels — stories in the form of short novels, usually published as series, rather than single volume stories (although yaoi novels are frequently single volumes). Mangaka artists are hired to create whole-page illustrations that are scattered throughout the book; in yaoi light novels, they usually depict sex scenes.

kifujin — essentially the same as fujoshi but referring specifically to adult women

lolicon (loli) — an adult who is sexually interested in underage girls (comes from Lolita, a famous novel of the same theme)

miai (omiai) — an arranged-marriage meeting between a man and woman, usually also attended by the families (and possibly a go-between or matchmaker for the families), with the intent of initiating a relationship that will lead to marriage

mother complex — being overly attached to one’s mother (possibly, but not necessarily, sexually); loosely derived from Freudian terminology

neko – literally means “cat” but is used to mean the bottom (or catcher) in boyxboy sex (which leads to a lot of word play, see the image at the bottom of the page); is seen as the submissive/feminine partner and is usually paired with the masculine “tachi”; can be used interchangeably with “uke”. Note: these are yaoi’s definitions, and do not necessarily reflect how these words are used IRL.

noncon — nonconsensual sexual activity (including rape, date rape, and coerced sex)

okama — men who dress as women (who may or may not actually be transgender)

one-shot — a single chapter, stand-alone story (in yaoi, the term includes a sexual pun about something that happens at least once per chapter; I leave it to you to figure it out)

OTP — “one true pairing” — a term used in shipping, referring to a fan’s favorite shipped pairing, the one they prefer over all others. For example, in Free!, fans often favor (and argue about) HaruxMakoto versus HaruxRin as their OTP.

OVA — original video animation — free-standing animations that are neither movies nor anime series; sometimes they tell a portion of a manga’s story, other times they bridge anime seasons. In yaoi, they are typically 25-45 min animations of one of a manga’s story arcs.

reversible couples (reversi or reba couples) — couples in which there are no defined seme and uke roles or in which seme and uke sometimes switch positions

reversible characters (reversi or reba) — characters that can be either seme or uke; most often in yaoi, they’re seme with one partner but uke with another.

a doujinshi that ships ErenxLevi, scanlated by A Little Memorria Kuchibiru ni Furete mo ii Desu Ka? by Arabic Yamato

a doujinshi that ships ErenxLevi from Attack on Titan, scanlated by A Little Memorria
Kuchibiru ni Furete mo ii Desu Ka? by Arabic Yamato

scanlation — the process of scanning the hard copies of manga, using photoshop to remove dialogue (and often sound effects) from the page, translating the text, and then inserting the translated text back into the images.

scanlators — manga-lovers who donate their time to scan the hard copies of manga, use photoshop to remove dialogue (and often sound effects) from the page, translate the text, and then insert the translated text back into the images. Hey, it’s a lot of work, so it’s worth describing the process twice…

seiryuu — voice actors for anime and drama CD’s

seme — the dominant partner in a homosexual relationship; the top (or pitcher) in boyxboy sex; typically seen as the masculine partner, paired with feminine “uke”; literally translates as “attack”; essentially the same as “tachi”. Note: these are yaoi’s definitions, and do not necessarily reflect how these words are used IRL.

ship — as in relationship, used as a verb when fans put two characters together in a relationship (who aren’t in one in the original story).

shotacon (shota) — adults who are sexually interested in underage boys

sister complex (siscon) — being overly attached to one’s sister (possibly, but not necessarily, sexually)

slash — essentially the same as shipping, but almost exclusively applies to fanfiction (Nagisa/Rei = “Nagisa slash Rei”)

soaplands — establishments that circumvent anti-prostitution laws by having women “wash” men (typically in lubricant) and then rub them to climax, often with full body contact (but without penetration)

sumata — a substitute for penetration, in which the male (or seme) thrusts between his partner’s pressed-together thighs (typically because the uke is unwilling to, um, receive him)

switch couples/characters — same as “reversible couples/characters”, above

tachi — usually paired with “neko” — the top (or pitcher) in boyxboy sex; see “seme”

tankoubon (tank) — a book that collects individual chapters of manga into a volume; it typically contains chapters previously published in manga magazines; sometimes tanks are one-shot collections, either by a single mangaka or by multiple authors on a central theme, or they gather together the chapters of a mangaka’s story (that has been published serially over time)

tsundere — a character who seems cold and/or gets angry easily (typically because he’s easily embarrassed), but is actually a softy inside

uke — the submissive partner in a homosexual relationship, the bottom (or catcher) in boyxboy sex; translates as “to receive” or “defense”; typically seen as the feminine partner, usually paired with the masculine “seme” — used interchangeably with “neko”. Note: these are yaoi’s definitions, and do not necessarily reflect how these words are used IRL.

Shunpei fantasizes about Fumi as a neko... in Mousou Elektel by Nekota Yonezou

Shunpei fantasizes about Fumi as a neko… in Mousou Elektel by Nekota Yonezou

22 thoughts on “the jargon of yaoi: a guide to fujoshi slang

  1. Pingback: begin at the beginning: what is yaoi? | the joy of yaoi

  2. Pingback: a guide to yaoi-speak | the joy of yaoi

  3. Very nicely done. The terms are described – in my opinion – properly and understandable. I agree that a few of those could be described in different ways, but you pretty much covered that where ever applicable. (e.g “Yaoi”)
    The next time I attempt to explain Yaoi to someone who’s new to the genre I will link the here; if that’s alright with you. Actually… do you mind if I link this on my blog?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the feedback 🙂 ! I would love for you to link to it — it’s only useful, after all, if people get to see it…
      I’m pretty new to all this — is it expected/considered polite to ask before linking? Would it be rude not to? Might be something I’d need to know in the future.

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      • Brilliant, thank you. I linked it on this one for now, but I might use it again when I write my “Yaoi only top Anime”. http://araka13.wordpress.com/2014/08/03/top-3-anime/
        Hmm.. sadly I can’t tell you a general answer to that either, as I’m also rather new to blogging. I just generally ask for permission first before linking anything. I’m used to it from dA (deviantArt), where asking before linking or using ones work is a common practice. I don’t think it would be considered rude if someone where to link something without first asking. Personally I wouldn’t mind, but I’d link to get a back-link.
        Hope that helps answer your question a bit.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes. Thank you. I try to provide links for where I’ve found things, especially images that people clearly worked on (like the “What’s Yaoi” on my fluent yaoi post) or that seem to be personal photos (like the ones on my yaoicon post) — but it hadn’t occurred to me that people might also want to be asked if it’s okay…

          I’m thinking that later on in the fall I’ll probably do a yaoi anime series of posts (to follow up on my yaoi manga series). It will be interesting to see how our perspectives coincide and differ. I’ve already been re-watching a bunch of the older yaoi anime that I hadn’t seen in years, and, man, I’m so jealous of mainstream anime’s funding.

          Like

        • As I said, it mostly depends on the person.
          (But one of these days you need to teach me how to integrate pictures in my post like you do)

          Oh, I will be looking forward to that. My “yaoi only” list is still in planning, but sadly I didn’t have much time to write anything lately.
          Haha yes… the funding is always the breaking point for most things. But even without mainstream funding I think most Yaoi Anime come out quite nicely. Just not in such an abundance…

          Like

  4. Pingback: Top 3 Anime for different genres | araka13

      • I think I came across it first in “Kuroneko Kareshi no Asobikata” first. That is the word neko being a cat,. Though I finally figured out that it was a a double entendre in a different story. The couple are sitting on a park bench and a kitten comes up to them and the uke complains that he hates neko and the seme worries that he might mean he hates being the uke (he just meant that he really did not like cats). It made the Kuroneko story make more sense. Ha.

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        • Yeah — there’s potential for some pretty funny double confusion, because the Japanese characters get confused (not knowing the term), and then the English readers miss it and/or get confused because they really don’t know the term…

          I like in Elektel Delusion (ok, if you keep reading, I’m about to spoil a joke for you, so you may want to stop reading now), when Shunpei learns the term neko for uke, he then blurts out his assumption that the seme must be the inu (dog). And then the gay boys laugh at him.

          Like

  5. Pingback: Ship Happens: Yaoi-Con 2014’s winning AMV | the joy of yaoi

    • That’s an interesting thought. The tsundere character is so ubiquitous in yaoi, but I’ve never thought of yandere characters as being as common in BL works. It seems like a character type that’s much more common in shoujo girl characters. I mean, I guess I can think of a couple of yandere yaoi characters, like the seme in Kawaii Akuma and in the second story in Akanai Tobira, but not a lot of others come to mind. But I can certainly add it…

      Thanks for coming by and taking the time to comment!!

      Like

  6. Pingback: the blog and I, take 2: Liebster Award nomination | the joy of yaoi

  7. Let’s see….. my first foray into yaoi…. I not sure if I remember correctly but…
    I think I was reading gender benders for a while before I went searching for a new action manga…..
    I found a togainu no chi doushinji
    …..
    0_0
    …..
    (And to make matters worse this was while I was a younger teenager who did not know what getting hot or wet meant…..)(fortunately I wasn’t irrevocably damaged as I already knew that I was kinda interested in observing kinky stuff)

    Like

    • That’s a great story! I bet you ended up learning a bunch of crazy stuff from yaoi. — that had to be a hell of a place to get any kind of sex ed. And given how many inaccuracies there are in it about how bodies work, a bit scary, too.

      Still, I kind of wish I’d discovered yaoi in my teens — I could’ve been reading it so much longer! But I was pretty shy and, um, uptight back then — I probably would have been scarred for life. So maybe it’s best that I found it long after I lost my virginity. XD

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  8. Hello nyankoto. I have been shipping, reading djs, and listening to drama cds but I never really get in touch with the terms used in yaoi so your article help me understand terms I never did before. Thanks!

    Also, I have read this shoujo manga, “Watashi Ga Motete Dousunda”, which is about a fujoshi female protagonist. Apparently, the ___ x ___ term is defined as seme x uke, where the first name mentioned is the seme and the following is uke, that is unless you declare them as reba. When the characters argue about 5×7 not being the same with 7×5, I got really confused. I have a hint of what it was but I was doubtful. So I was hoping to see an explanation of it from your article but it was not here. Though after how many chapters it was slightly mentioned that ___ x ___ is indeed seme x uke. That was tough but I learned something. 😀 And for a small correction, it is seiyuu and not seiryuu (blue dragon).

    Anyways, thank you again for the terms! Now I would never be confused from it unless I will encounter newer terms. XD

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s really interesting. I haven’t read that manga. I will have to check it out. It makes sense that people would use the seme x uke order like that, but I hadn’t ever noticed. Cool!

      And thank you for the correction! ❤

      Like

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