20 Common Terms to Help You Navigate the World of Cosplay

Posted on September 5, 2020

The First Stop Cosplay team at Anime Los Angeles 2020
20 common terms in the cosplay community
The First Stop Cosplay team at Anime Los Angeles 2020. Photo was taken by Nick Ryuzi.

Let’s say you’re thinking about going to your very first anime convention. You have a mix of overwhelming excitement, confusion, and maybe even some anxiety. You’re excited because you feel like you’ll get to be around others just like you, who accept you for who you are and your hobbies. But you’re also confused and a little anxious because you’re worried you might not always know what the other attendees are talking about; you don’t know the “lingo.”

Well, you’re in luck! Because we’ve compiled a list of 20 terms that are the most commonly used in the cosplay community.

The “Lingo”

1. Manga/Manhwa/Manhua/Webtoon

  • Noun.
    • Manga – a comic book created and published in Japan.
    • Manhwa – a comic book created and published in South Korea.
    • Manhua – a comic book created and published in China.
    • Webtoon – a digital comic that originated in South Korea and has spread worldwide.

2. Anime

  • Noun.
    • the Japanese word for “animation.” In America, it’s more specifically a style of Japanese film and television animation; a series or movie whose story typically originates from a manga.

3. Cosplay

  • Noun.
    • the act of dressing up as a character, be it from anime, American cartoons, live-action media, etc., that you admire in some way.
  • Verb.
    • to cosplay.
Mari Aerony as Sinon from Sword Art Online 2
20 common terms in the cosplay community
Mari Aerony as Sinon from Sword Art Online 2.
Reila as Linkle from Hyrule Warriors
20 common terms in the cosplay community
Reila as Linkle from Hyrule Warriors.
Hiko as Yotsuyu from Final Fantasy XIV
20 common terms in the cosplay community
Hiko as Yotsuyu from Final Fantasy XIV.

4. Crossplay

  • Noun.
    • when someone cosplays as a character of the opposite sex (i.e. a female cosplaying as a male character).
  • Verb.
    • to crossplay.
Reila as Undertaker from Black Butler
Crossplay
20 common terms in the cosplay community
Reila as Undertaker (female cosplaying as male) from Black Butler.

5. Gender-bend

  • Noun.
    • when the gender of a character is changed, often for the purpose of cosplaying  (i.e., a female version of Luffy from One Piece, or a male version of the sailor scouts from Sailor Moon).
  • Verb.
    • to gender-bend.
Abby Dream as Stocking and Amarice gender-bending as Socks from Panty and Stocking
Gender-bending
20 common terms in the cosplay community
Abby Dream (left) as Stocking and Amarice (right) gender-bending as Socks from Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt.

6. Crossover/Mash-up

  • Noun.
    • the merging of characters from different series (i.e., Luffy from One Piece wearing Goku from Dragon Ball Z’s clothes, and vice versa).
Dragon Ball Z x One Piece 20th Anniversary DX figures by Bandai
Crossover
Mash-up
20 common terms in the cosplay community
Dragon Ball Z x One Piece 40th Anniversary DX figures by Bandai. Figures are owned by and the photo taken by Kerry Madden-Potts.

7. Gijinka

  • Noun.
    • a cosplay that is a humanoid version of a character that’s originally an animal, creature, or object (i.e., Pokémon, My Little Pony, Neopets, etc.). Gijinka are often fan-designed.
Mari Aerony as Mog (moogle) from Final Fantasy XIII-2
Gijinka 
20 common terms in the cosplay community
Mari Aerony as Mog (a moogle) from Final Fantasy XIII-2.
Mog from Final Fantasy XIII-2, developed and owned by Square Enix.
Reila as Furret from Pokemon
Gijinka
20 common terms in the cosplay community
Reila as Furret from Pokémon.
Furret from the Pokémon franchise, owned by The Pokémon Company.

8. Lolita

  • Noun.
    • a subculture in Japan heavily influenced by Victorian clothing (18th – early 19th century Britain) and styles from the Rococo period (17th – early 18th century France). There are also many substyles of Lolita (i.e., ‘gothic’ Lolita, ‘aristocrat’ Lolita, ‘classic’ Lolita, ‘sweet’ Lolita, ‘steampunk’ Lolita, ‘guro’ Lolita, etc.).

9. Furry

  • Noun.
    • a subculture that creates a cartoon anthropomorphized animal character for themselves with whom they identify and use as an avatar in their community. They bring their character to life by making what’s called a full fursuit. The furry and fandom subcultures often overlap with each other.

10. Animegau/Doller

  • Noun.
    • a cosplay where the cosplayer dresses up as a character from head to toe, including a head covering. The most characteristic feature is the head, which is often a covering that’s shaped like a doll’s head and created to look like the original character’s head.
Unknown cosplayer as Luke Skywalker from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
Animegau
Doller
20 common terms in the cosplay community
Unknown cosplayer as Luke Skywalker (animegau version) from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Photo was taken by Reila at Anime Expo 2009.

11. Zentai

  • Noun.
    • a skin-tight suit used for different cosplay reasons. Some are full-body and some are from the neck down. Some have prints, some are used as a base, and others are used as an alternate option to body paint for odd skin colors (i.e., blue, green, red).
Unknown cosplayers as Deadpool from Deadpool
Zentai
20 common terms in the cosplay community
Unknown cosplayers as Deadpool (in zentais) from Deadpool. Photo was taken by Reila at FanimeCon 2016.

12. Prop

  • Noun.
    • an object that is a part of a cosplay (i.e., wings, weapons, staff, etc.).

13. Otaku

  • Noun.
    • a person who has an obsessive interest (i.e., anime, manga, computers). In the U.S., it’s embraced as a personal label (i.e. nerd, jock, gamer) but is mostly considered an insult in Japan.

14. Chibi

  • Noun.
    • slang in Japanese for “small” or “short.” In the anime and cosplay community, it’s used in a positive and cute way.
  • Adjective.
    • used to describe a short character or small, cute version of a character.

15. Glomping

  • Verb.
    • to hug someone by throwing yourself onto them.
Winry Rockbell glomping Edward and Alphonse Elric (Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood anime).

16. Con

  • Noun.
    • short for “convention.”
Anime Expo over the years at the Los Angeles Convention Center
Photos of Anime Expo over the years at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

17. Con Season

  • Noun.
    • the time of the year when the most conventions are held. Typically, when con season occurs depends on where you live. For example, on the West Coast, most people consider April to July as con season.

18. Con Funk

  • Noun.
    • the waft of body odor you get when you enter a crowded convention 1-2 days into the weekend.

19. Post-Con Depression

  • Noun.
    • the feeling after you get home from the convention, when you miss the community, your friends, the fun, and the overall con experience.

20. Con Plague

  • Noun.
    • when you and/or others get sick—just a cold, nothing serious!—either after or at the end of a convention.

These are just 20 common terms used in the cosplay community. There are so many more you’ll notice when you delve further into the culture. But these will, at the very least, give you an idea of what to expect and help you navigate the complex, unique world of cosplay.

Gotta Give Credit!

We want to thank and credit these people for letting us use their photos:

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