|See also:||OTP, OT3, OT4, Skinship, Multishipping|
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I will go down with this ship,
And I won't put my hands up and surrender.
There will be no white flag above my door.
I'm in love and always will be.
Shipping in fandom is the act of supporting or wishing for a particular romantic relationship — that is, a het (opposite-sex), slash (male/male), femslash (female/female), or poly (three or more partners) ship — by discussing it, writing meta about it, or creating other types of fanworks exploring it. Fans who have and promote favorite ships are called shippers. They might assert that the relationship does exist or will exist in canon, that they would like it to exist, or simply that they enjoy imagining it. Shippers who support multiple ships within a single canon are often referred to as multishippers, especially if they support those ships equally.
Some shippers support relationships that are portrayed or acknowledged as established in canon, some shippers like relationships that exist only as subtext (whether intentional or accidental -- itself a topic of debate), and some prefer relationships where the characters have no subtext discernible to non-shippers. Some fans ship characters who never even appear in canon together! It is important to note that some percentage of fans actively do not want their ship to become canon, especially wrongshippers and fans who don't trust the show's writers and producers to "do it right". Shippers have been known to regret it when their wish came true.
The term originated in the X-Files fandom (1993), where viewers who wanted to see a romantic relationship between Fox Mulder and Dana Scully were dubbed "relationshippers," or "shippers." Some were self-described intellishippers. It was also used on discussion groups for Lois and Clark (1993), where "shippers" were those who were pushing for stories in which the pair would get together romantically onscreen.
"Shippers" evolved into the shortened term "ship," used to refer to a potential romantic pairing a fan supported or wished to see become canon. "Ship" was subsequently used as a verb: "(to) ship a certain pairing."
"Shippers" has sometimes been used to refer exclusively to fans of heterosexual pairings, as opposed to "slashers" who wanted two male characters to get together.  Today, it now also means fans of slash pairings.
A clash between rival groups of pairing supporters is called a shipwar or shipping war.
Because of their homophones, the terms are often accompanied or embellished by nautical or maritime imagery (for example, if canon makes a particular pairing unlikely or difficult to write, shippers may say it has "sunk their ship.") When the song "White Flag" by Dido came out, one of its lyrics, "I will go down with this ship," became a motto for passionate shipping, appearing on many, many Livejournal icons, banner graphics and other website and blog decorations.
Shipper and Ship Nicknames
- See also: Pairing Names
Shippers of a particular pairing may make up names to describe themselves or their ship, such as the Harmonians, or the Rocketshippers of Pokémon fandom. In the 2010s, online fans might see discussions about "Johnlock" (or "Shertson"), "Destiel", or "Merthur". A single relationship may have multiple names.
Ship names may be formed from several sources, including:
- Parts of the characters' names: Launt combines Niki Lauda and James Hunt's last names in Formula 1 RPF.
- Alternate names for (or concepts related to) each character: Sleeping Warrior combines Aurora's title of "Sleeping Beauty" with Mulan's warrior role in Once Upon a Time.
- Concepts related to the relationship between the characters: Lighthouseshipping refers to an event where Felix tries to rescue Sheba in the Yu-Gi-Oh! video game Golden Sun.
- Keywords or phrases associated with the relationship in canon: Anyone can fall is a line said by Raleigh to Mako in Pacific Rim.
- Systems unique to a fandom: 6x9 combines the numerical equivalent of Zechs's name (6) with the numerical equivalent of Noin's (9); numerical ship names are common in Gundam Wing fandom, where many of the characters have names derived from numbers in various languages.
- A mixture of the above: BlackHill combines Natasha's code name of "Black Widow" with Maria Hill's name in The Avengers (Marvel).
Ship names may be used for a variety of purposes, such as:
- Community and event names
- Tags on Pixiv, Tumblr, Twitter, or other multi-fannish sites
- To help shippers identify each other
Polyships may also have ship names. Though some may simply be called OT3/OT4/etc. or just be referred to by the characters' names, other receive specific and unique names such as SGA-1 or Stark Spangled Banner.
Ship names and related phrases are an international and multilingual phenomenon. For example:
|Relationship||Steve Rogers/Tony Stark|
|English||Stony, CapIron, Superhusbands|
- T'Mar. Slashing versus 'Shipping, or Why it's Easier to be a Slasher, published on 02 March 2004 at the Fanfic Symposium. (Accessed 05 October 2008.)
- Shipping at the Golden Sun Universe wiki. Accessed July 17, 2014.
- Relationshipping at the Touhou Wiki includes a list of pixiv tags and common phrases used for Touhou Project ships in Japanese. For example: "The phrase 「僕の見つけた真実はレイマリ」 ("Boku no mitsuketa shinjitsu wa ReiMari" / "My discovered truth is ReiMari") is commonly used to express support for ReiMari." Accessed July 17, 2014.