Only the most pop culturally isolated English speakers don’t know what the word “stan” means. Its origins lie in Eminem’s

When “stan” became a verb

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2024-06-10 23:30:03

Only the most pop culturally isolated English speakers don’t know what the word “stan” means. Its origins lie in Eminem’s 2000 hit song “Stan,” about an overzealous fan, and has come to describe anyone who takes their love of a particular artist or entertainment franchise to new extremes. (For Eminem’s fictional Stan, portrayed in the music video by actor Devon Sawa, that extreme meant murdering himself, his girlfriend, played by Dido, and their unborn child by driving their car off of a bridge.) The use of “stan” as a noun gradually gained popularity.

Though Eminem gave the world the image of Stan, Nas showed the world how to put "stan" to work, having used it in his classic 2001 diss track “Ether": "You a fan, a phony, a fake, a pussy, a Stan." His is the first recorded usage of "stan" as a label (and a pejorative one) for an obsessive fan rather than the name of the fan himself. From there "stan" slowly took off, and while the noun's pejorative meaning remains, the murderous intent it was originally associated with has nearly disappeared. Stans all over the world label themselves as such to express just how dedicated they are to a particular artist and their fandom.

Today, the word “stan” is just as popular as a verb as it is a noun, which got us wondering, who was the first to make this linguistic transformation? The advent of the internet has meant that the evolution of words, and slang in particular, takes place and spreads faster than ever before. For example, the phrase “on fleek,” according to website Know Your Meme, has actually been around since the early 2000s and was popularized by a viral Vine created by user Peaches Monroee in 2014. Despite being around for years, when the phrase entered pop culture its use spiralled out of control, and was subsequently coopted by celebrities and corporate marketing departments, sparking important discussions of ownership and appropriation of black youth culture. But it also shed some light on how word origins are determined in the digital age. UrbanDictionary and social media apps have taken on an important role in recording and tracking language usage, and thus have become key resources in the field of lexicography.

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