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See also: Feelings, Feelschat, I can't even, Angst
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Feels is an abbreviation for "feelings", but it's used in a distinct way in fandom. While "feelings" may refer to a broad range of emotions under many circumstances, "feels" is almost always fandom-specific, referring to feelings evoked specifically by fannish experiences.[1] Of the six definitions posted to Urban Dictionary as of May 22, 2013, five defined the term in reference to fandom or gave only fandom examples, while the sixth was actually a definition for "feel".[2]

Feels is a noun, and may be modified by adjectives or other nouns, creating such common phrases as "angsty feels", "my feels", "OTP feels", "Hale Fire Feels", and "Natasha feels"[3] (note that "feels" is not a verb in that last phrase - it's part of a compound noun).

While feels usually refers to the emotions of the fan, at times the term may also be used for the emotions of a character, especially if fans are intended to sympathize with these emotions.[4]

An older, related term is angsted.

Origins and Adoption

The term feels is sometimes attributed specifically to Tumblr fandom, but it has also been seen on Livejournal and other fannish platforms.[5] On Tumblr, the Feels tag as of May 2013 was dominated by fannish posts, while the same tag in late 2011 was dominated by real life posts (often tagging with phrases that used "feels" as a verb), with some fannish posts mixed in. The oldest post under the tag is an animal video posted by Comebacknow on November 30, 2008.

On the Archive of Our Own, the "feels" tag was first canonized on August 31, 2012, but it had seen at least 60 direct uses before that time (not counting variations).[6] It was first used on the archive as an isolated term (as opposed to in a compound) on January 7, 2012.[7] In contrast, "Feelings" was first used on February 25, 2011.[7] By May 22, 2013, "feels" had 1167 uses and outnumbered "feelings" 3 to 1.[7] Including subtags, "feels" returned 2891 works by this time.[8]

(more here?)

Common Derivative phrases

Feels is such a common fannish term that it has spawned several common phrases, including:

  • "Right in the feels"
  • "All my ____ feels" or "All the ____ feels"
  • "Hit by ____ feels"
  • "Drowning in feels"
  • "I have a lot of feels"
  • "This story includes all the feels"
  • (please add more!)


(Tumblr-speak criticisms?)


Meta/Further Reading


  1. In Defense of Feels by Mithen. "Specifically, feels are on the whole reserved for feelings related to the experience of fannish pleasure--in my experience, with an overtone of "a subset of extremely intense feelings that we all understand are linked to a fictional artifact." I've never heard anyone say something like "I had a lot of feels at my grandfather's funeral"--"feels" are reserved for Phil Coulson or the Doctor." Posted May 17, 2013. Accessed May 22, 2013; (reference link).
  2. Urban Dictionary: feels, accessed May 22, 2013. Definitions 1-5 are fannish; definition 6 is about sympathizing with another person, in the "I feel you" usage. The example from definition 1 is representative of the set: "Watching Back To The Future gives me all sorts of nostalgic feels."
  3. Search for tags on AO3 that include "feels", accessed May 22, 2013.
  4. For example, the tag All Steve's Bucky Feels, accessed May 22, 2013.
  5. In Defense of Feels by Mithen. "I've seen "feels" in other places as well, but I have the impression Tumblr spawned it" and "I've seen it on LJ as well--my feeling is that it began largely on Tumblr (I do not know why I have this impression, I must confess!) and has spread outward to other platforms." ~Mithen, posted May 18, 2013. Accessed May 22, 2013.
  6. Personal recollection by Briar and tag comments dated August 31, 2012.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Via wrangling interface software, accessed May 22, 2013.
  8. Feels - Works, accessed May 22, 2013.
  9. reference link.