20 Common Terms to Help You Navigate the World of Cosplay

20 Common Terms to Help You Navigate the World of Cosplay

The First Stop Cosplay team at Anime Los Angeles 2020. Photo was taken by Nick Ryuzi.

Sep 1

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.

Mari Aerony as Sinon from Sword Art Online 2.

Reila as Linkle from Hyrule Warriors.

Reila as Linkle from Hyrule Warriors.

Hiko as Yotsuyu from Final Fantasy XIV.

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 (female cosplaying as male) from Black Butler.

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 (left) as Stocking and Amarice (right) gender-bending as Socks from Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt.

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 Dragon Ball Z Goku’s clothes, and vice versa).

Dragon Ball Z x One Piece 40th Anniversary DX figures by Bandai. Figures are owned and photo taken by Kerry Madden-Potts.

Dragon Ball Z x One Piece 40th Anniversary DX figures by Bandai. Figures are owned and 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 (a moogle) from Final Fantasy XIII-2.

Mari Aerony as Mog (a moogle) from Final Fantasy XIII-2.

Mog from Final Fantasy XIII-2, developed and owned by Square Enix Holdings Co., Ltd.

Mog from Final Fantasy XIII-2, developed and owned by Square Enix Holdings Co., Ltd.

Reila as Furret from Pokémon.

Reila as Furret from Pokémon.

Furret from the Pokémon franchise, owned by The Pokémon Company.

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 (animegau version) from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Photo was taken by Reila at Anime Expo 2009.

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 (in zentais) from Deadpool. Photo was taken by Reila at FanimeCon 2016.

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.
adj - used to describe a short character or small, cute version of a character.

15. Glomping

verb - to hug someone by throwing yourself onto them.

Instructional photo on how to glomp taken from the website “Know Your Meme.”

Instructional photo on how to glomp taken from the website “Know Your Meme.”

(Please don't touch/hug people without verbal consent/permission.)

16. Con

noun - short for “convention.”

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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/Con Crud

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

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