How to Speak "Tumblr" Fangirl - A Beginner's Guide

By Hsing Tseng on June 10, 2013

Tumblr. Image by Flickr user chadarizona.

Tumblr rivals Facebook and Twitter as one of the top social networks on the web. A “microblogging” platform, Tumblr is home to artists, writers, hipsters, and nerds of all types, but most importantly, it’s home to many, many fangirls. As a somewhat veteran Tumblr user, I prepared a quick guide for those looking to get into Tumblr and are still learning Tumblr-speak.

Quick Tumblr terms

Reblog – the act of posting another user’s post to your own Tumblr. Different from “right-click-save-as-new-post” aka “repost” because reblogging still credits the original poster. Never repost just so you get the credit – this is widely considered a bad move.

tags – Tumblr’s way to categorize posts. Searchable by all of Tumblr. Usually used by Tumblr users to describe their own feelings about a post when reblogging it instead of the caption box, because tags do not carry over from reblogs and captions do. Don’t tag your hate - if you are posting a criticism, i.e. about Star Trek, do not tag it “star trek.” Tumblr users go to tags to see things they like. It’s incredibly rude to post hate in tags – akin to walking into a gay bar and screaming “I HATE GAY PEOPLE.” Don’t do it.

GIF – animated images that make Tumblr users wizards in an otherwise Muggle social media. The most prominent way to communicate between Tumblr users, usually ironically or sympathetically. Pronounced either “gif” or “jif” like the peanut butter brand; nobody knows.


A fandom is a community that all shares an interest in the same thing, i.e. a TV show, a movie, a book series, comics, etc. Fandom is about sharing fanart, fanfiction, and fan-created works that are rooted in a love for the source material. Here are some terms to navigate fandom.

canon – the official plot. Fandom often involves debates about what is or is not canon.

fanfic/fic – short for “fanfiction.” Fanfics are pieces of writing that involve intricate plots and sometimes revolve around romance. Usually work within the canon, sometimes use alternate universes (AU’s). Usually published on ao3, LiveJournal, Tumblr or worst-comes-to-worst (tread with caution for here there be much poorly written smut).

meta – nonfiction writing about other things. Different from fanfiction in that meta is usually detailed analysis.


Shipping is a fundamental part of any fangirl’s life. But what is a ship?

Ship – short for “relationship,” refers to a pairing. Ship names usually combine names of characters i.e. Johnlock (John Watson/Sherlock Holmes), Clintasha (Clint/Natasha – Avengers), and Destiel (Castiel/Dean – Supernatural). Also used as a verb, as in “I ship it.”

OTP – One True Pairing, refers to a Tumblr user’s favorite pairing of characters. Do not be confused by the “one,” as most Tumblr users have a whole list of OTP’s, and under no circumstances should you insult another user’s OTP.

Tumblr slang

This is the good part – slang that has become so widely and pervasively used that it has created its own subculture. Here are some essential words for the Tumblr vocabulary:

Life ruiner – someone who is so perfect that they ruin one’s life. Can refer to their attractiveness, talent, etc. Usually used in reference to Tumblr idols such as Jennifer Lawrence, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston, and Anne Hathaway.

asdkfj;kfjasdlfkj – also known as “keyboard smash.” This means that the Tumblr user is so excited/happy/overcome with emotion that they cannot type full words. Accepted as legitimate conversation in many cases.

How do you ___ / HOW - I admire your talent for doing ____ and wish I could be as talented as you are.

Feels – short for “feelings,” refers to the emotional attachment to a character or series. Also refers to debilitating symptoms of sobbing and crawling under tables/blankets.

GPOY – short for “gratuitous picture of yourself.” Usually not actually a picture of the Tumblr user, but used to describe something that the Tumblr user feels reflects their personality, i.e. pictures of a lazy sloth tagged “gpoy”

I can’t/I can’t even/I’ve lost the ability to can – I’m too overwhelmed to finish this sentence or function.

What is air – I’m laughing so hard I can’t breathe.

I’m cry – I’m laughing/crying so hard I can’t finish this sentence.

Hopefully this crash course in Tumblr-speak has been able to enlighten you on the intricacies of Tumblr slang. On Tumblr, “shipping” does not refer to packages, though “I ship it like Fedex” is acceptable speech and “I can’t” is a grammatically correct sentence. Now all that’s left is for you to do is to get on Tumblr and start reblogging and askdfajsldfk-ing like a pro.


A second-year at the University of Denver, Hsing is part of the National Columnist team with Uloop. She loves covering the nerd culture and technology beat and aspires to work for Kotaku or IGN. You can find her gaming, watching anime, or blogging away madly. (Good luck finding her Tumblr, though.) She is super involved at DU, and wouldn't have it any other way.

Follow Uloop

Apply to Write for Uloop News

Join the Uloop News Team

Discuss This Article

Get Top Stories Delivered Weekly

Back to Top

Log In

Contact Us

Upload An Image

Please select an image to upload
Note: must be in .png, .gif or .jpg format
Provide URL where image can be downloaded
Note: must be in .png, .gif or .jpg format

By clicking this button,
you agree to the terms of use

By clicking "Create Alert" I agree to the Uloop Terms of Use.

Image not available.

Add a Photo

Please select a photo to upload
Note: must be in .png, .gif or .jpg format