The true origins of ‘stan’

Jun 02, 2017

It's official: stan (an overzealous fan of a celebrity) is in the dictionary. But should Eminem get all the credit?

It’s official: the word ‘stan’ is in the Oxford English Dictionary, defined as “an overzealous or obsessive fan of a particular celebrity’, as per Eminem’s Marshall Mathers LP single from 2000.

According to the dictionary, ‘stan’ can be used flexibly as both a noun:

And as a verb:

So you can be a total Migos stan, or totally stan for Migos.

One of the all-time greatest stans.

The word’s actually been in the Oxford dictionary for some time,  but was only recently noticed by the internet at large:

The Oxford definition credits Eminem with the origin of the term,  acknowledging that ‘stan’ stems from “the 2000 song ‘Stan’ by the American rapper, Eminem, about an obsessed fan.”

An Oxford blog post from 2015 details the emergence of ‘stan’, noting that “Stan was probably the easy name for Eminem to pick for his song’s main character because it rhymes with fan, but also because the word stan serves as a kind of portmanteau of ‘stalker’ and ‘fan’.” The blog predates the word’s inclusion in the dictionary, but says that “there may be a case in the future for its inclusion,” as the word makes appearances all over the internet.

However, the Eminem song isn’t the full story of how ‘stan’ became a term synonymous with obsessive superfan, as what is probably the greatest diss song of all time had its share of influence in popularizing the word as well:

Now all we need is the modern definition of ‘woke’ to make it in there, and we’re all set. Oh, looks like Oxford’s already on it. Damn, those guys are such stans for words.

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