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

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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 in the internet age my world is full of acronyms and slang terms like SMH, fam, no cap, and even weirder ones, like FTFY.

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. 

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What does stan mean in slang?

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 (a mashup of the words stalked 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 has addressed her stans on social media, tweeting them and sending out physical stan cards in the mail.

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:

Is 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.

Where did the term stan come from?

In 2000, Eminem released a song entitled “Stan” on the album The Marshall Mather LP 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, Eminem learned his song "Stan" had inspired its present-day usage during a Rolling Stone interview, where he called the usage "crazy" but "funny."

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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.

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