[Ads-l] ship, v. (2000-01)

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Tue Aug 16 14:36:59 UTC 2016

OED3 has a first cite of 2005 for the verb "ship" = 'To discuss, portray,
or advocate a romantic pairing of (two characters who appear in a work of
(serial) fiction), esp. when such a pairing is not depicted in the original
work.' A Merriam-Webster "Words We're Watching" post also dates it to 2005:


The verbal noun "shipping" dates to 1997, from a Usenet post about "The
X-Files." ("Shipper" appeared on Usenet the previous year, from
"relationshipper.") So it shouldn't have taken too long for fans to come up
with the backformation "ship."

Antedatings for the verb can be found in forums for "Harry Potter" fans,
including on Yahoo Groups. Here's the earliest I've found so far:

Sara Beth Brooks, Harry Potter fanfiction (Yahoo Group), Nov. 5, 2000
And as to Ron/Harry shippers- let 'em ship. [...] As long as no one forces
me to read and Ron/Harry stories, I'm perfectly fine with letting them ship
all they want.

And from the same author, later that day:

If you want to ship for m/m or f/f, dammit, ship.  Just don't make me ship
with you.

Note that "ship" at this point was intransitive -- later usage has the
romantic pairing as the object of the verb (typically as "X/Y", "X and Y",
or "X with Y"). I can't decide if this one is transitive or intransitive:

Allison, H/H Shippers Anonymous (Yahoo Group), Apr. 21, 2001
My personal two favorite ways to ship are of course H/H and D/G.
[may require subscribing to read]

This one is more clearly transitive:

Lia, Harry Potter fanfiction (Yahoo Group), Oct. 4, 2001
I ship Hermione with almost anyone.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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