Trekkie (glossary term)

From Fanlore
(Redirected from Trekker)
Jump to: navigation, search
Synonyms: trekker, STrekfan, strekfan, stfan
See also: X-Phile, Wingnut, Brony, Browncoat, FoLC, Scaper, Senner
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Tradition holds that Trekkie is a term used by outsiders to describe Star Trek fans and that the competing term Trekker was used by Star Trek fans to describe themselves. Some of the nuances have been lost by now.

This distinction, however, may never have been universally true: for example, see Trekkie Talk, published in Australia in the 1970s. At times, "trekkie" was considered offensive, but the explanation for the difference between the terms has been in wide circulation long past the point where anyone actually cared; because the distinction was recorded in a variety of sources, including academic publications and statements by industry people connected to the franchise, new generations of fans could read all about it, but the original context was lost.

fan-made button reading I'm a Trekker. These buttons were most likely worn at conventions and other fan gatherings

The Earliest Use

Deck 6 (May 1970 issue) is perhaps the earliest use in print making a distinction between "trekkie" and "trekker." The editor writes: "... when I start acting like a bubble-headed trekkie (rather than a sober, dignified--albeit enthusiastic-- trekker...)."

Definitions from The STrekfan's Glossary of Abbreviations and Slanguage

From 1976:

Trekkie: "Although the mundane world makes no distinction between Trekkie and any other term for the ST fan, Trekkie is considered odd, unfitting and even derogatory to some serious ST fans."

Trekker: "This term is more accepted within fandom and carry the connotation of the serious, mature student of the show and of fandom."

Fans Respond

[1975]: The appellation 'Trekkie' never bothered me, until someone started screaming it ain't dignified. Yawn. It's okay, I guess, altho' personally prefer Trekfan. Of course, 'Starswarmies' wouldn't be bad, either, if the general population associated them with intelligent, concerned, orderly beings. The trouble with 'Trekkie' is that it conveys a teeny-bopper image -- not the word itself, but the image of 'fans gathering at conventions to get a glimpse of Mr. Spock,' as some TV newspaper columnists have written... [1]
[1975]: Trekkie' comes from the 'Trekkiebopper' as an analogy of the then current term, 'Teeniebopper' (See the TV Guide of the same period). 'Trekfan' is mostly a midwest term, coined by the locals on the examples of genfan [general science fiction fan], comicfan and serconfan etc. The plural is trekfen. Other terms are Trekfan, Strekfan, strekfan, STfan... Captial usage is variable, but generally, trek fan and trekker are uncapitalized. Trekker is an East Coast term, I am unsure of the derivation.[2]
[1976]: What many people outside of STAR TREK fandom don't seem to realize is that there are two rather distinctly different types of Star Trek fans: Trekkers and Trekkies. And Star Trek fandom tends to suffer because of this misunderstanding. There are two different outlooks that separate the Trekker and the Trekkie: The Trekker is the serious, dedicated, and hardworking fan who is seriously into ST fandom trying to get something constructive done while still meeting people and making friends. But Trekkies- are. inconsiderate, disruptive kids who are simply along for the ride. The Trekker sees Star Trek as the only recent television show that treated science fiction in an adult, painstakingly authentic, highly entertaining manner by craftsmen who (because of their dedication and skill) make the future come alive. Trekkers give freely of their time, energy, and resources to get things done. They tend to be the organizers, the volunteers, the hard and consistent workers, the editors and officers. They run the service organizations like the Star Trek Welcommittee. Prime examples of Trekkers: John and Bjo Trimble, David Gerrold, Allyson Whitfield. Trekkies on the other hand, see Star Trek as just another exciting TV show. And the fandom associated with it simply another "in-group" they can try to join. They can always be seen, running all over, zapping everyone with their toy phasers, dressed in their spockears and uniforms. They are consumers of anything that says Star Trek or has a picture of Spock on it. Their only aim is to have fun. Trekkies are. forever quoting their favorite character, but are very apathetic when it comes to working on club activities and volunteer projects. Trekkers are responsible for most of the good things that have been done in Star Trek fandom. Trekkies, unfortunately, are responsible for the bad impression the general public has of Star Trek fans.[3]
[1977]: The argument is all about the nicknames for Star Trek fans, besides "Trekfan", "Freak", and "Them Nuts". "Trekkie" and "Trekker". Now in print it is generally "Trekkie". (From Gerrold, no less.) I do not know if this is only in the Northwest, but also used is the term "Trekker". Fine, Nifty. "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." But, there are those who go into cardiac arrest at being deferred to as "Trekkies", preferring "Trekker" as they feel "Trekkie" is too close to the despised term "Groupie", and they consider themselves seriously. "Trekkie" does sound rather like a little girl clutching a Spock doll, but that's no reason to have a heart attack. Trekker, on the other hand, also sounds a trifle stupid. The 430-odd people of the USS Enterprise are trekkers, they are going somewhere. The rest of us who sit on our bums and watch them are trekkies, recipients of their trekdom. [4]
[1977]: Many, many times I have been insulted by being called a "Trekkie". How can that be an insult you inquire? Simple. In implying that I am a "Star Trek" follower they must realize that in being a "Star Trek" follower I have dignity. Therefore, I do not wish to be lowered, nor do I wish the name of "Star Trek" to be disgraced.

Allow me to explain. When you use the word "Trekkie" you make someone sound like a freak-type groupie. On the other hand, when you say "Trekker" you allow the person a little dignity and pride. "Trekkie" sounds childish. "Trekker" is bold and worthy. Like "soldier". "Trekker" is dependable. In using the word "Trekkie" you are degrading the name "Star Trek" itself. It sounds like "Treky". Is that what we want to be called...? A "Treky"?

So please, we have a certain image to uphold; therefore, in the name of Trekkers everywhere, correct friends, relatives, and newspapers when they carry out thoughtless acts. [5]
[1991]: Are we Trekkies or Trekkers? In my opinion, it's not what you answer to, but how the studio views you that counts in the long run. I don't mind being called a Trekkie... The mundane-on-the-street who views us as weirdoes doesn't seem to care what we call ourselves: it's all one to him or her. And Paramount seems not to care, either. The past few years, the Star Trek people, who used to value every fan (back when they were struggling and needed every fan), now seem to treat Trekkies and Trekkers with equal contempt, and as many of us, including some of the better pro writers, have recently discovered. Will we gain respect of Paramount and the general public through use of a generic word to describe ourselves? We haven't heard yet, have we? As for me, I've been considered a weirdo for over 40 years, so I don't suppose that can be changed. But I feel no qualms about calling myself a Trekkie and proving that Im not a foot or a sucker... It's occurred to me that if we do want the studio's respect... perhaps we shouldn't call ourselves by either name; nor should we call ourselves fans... We should start calling ourselves 'patrons' and 'customers' because that's what we are. Ultimately, as a group, we pay these peoples' wages -- a fact that I think they'd prefer to forget.[6]

So who invented the word Trekkie'? Surely not a fan. I can quite easily imagine a group of hunters prowling around video stores and book shops, calling out "Here Trekkie Trekkie", blowing into a communicator whistle. I once read somewhere that "we" prefer to be called 'Trekkers'. Despite being infinitely more dignified, it still sounds daft - a hike, anyone? So next time you go to say "I'm a Trekker" or "I'm a Trekkie", instead say "I'm a Star Trek fan and I'm proud of it" and see what the response is.

My mind takes me back to the Saturday Night Live sketch set at a Trek convention. All of the people there were the stereotypical fan, as described in my first paragraph. Although sometimes we need to laugh at ourselves (some of that sketch was genuinely funny; some sadly true) it was quite unnecessary for William Shatner to appear and make the comments he did. "Get a life", he said. As fans it's us who gave him a life - a damn good one at that. Surely we deserve some respect from him? At least most of the other stars take the time to talk to their fans at conventions - strange we may be, but we pay their bills and they know it. [7]
[1994]: I was told for years that the Trekkies were the people who just watched the show and were fans and had a good time with it, and the Trekkers were the "get a life, move out of your mother's house and get a girlfriend" people. These are the ones who not only can exzplain how warp engines work, but they petitio9n the government to use them. Then I came to college this fall and got a lot of people pissed because I called them trekkies. I guess the definations were reversed whereever they come from. [8]
[1994]: I've always viewed 'Trekkers' as the people who are way too serious about what they're called (and about the show), and 'Trekkies' as people like myself, who have a good sense of humor about it and don't much care what they're called (within reason :). [9]
[1994]: "Trekkie" was the original term used for Star Trek fans, but be cause it was also frequently used as an insult, someone somewhere came up wi th "Trekker". Many people think Trekkie is insulting and many others think that Trekker is snobbish and arrogant. There is ABSOLUTLY NO Distinction bet ween the two, which has cuased me to revert to calling people "Star Trek fans." [10]
[2001]: Trekkie is such a negative, inflaming word to my generation of fans; I see fire every time it’s used in relation to my work. Despite the fact that I break it down systematically, multiple times, in my writing, still, about the half the time writers who write about Textual Poachers use the word ‘Trekkie’, and the rest of them describe the book as being about Trek fans despite the fact that it’s about all sorts of media fans.[11]

Meta/Further Reading

External Links


  1. from The Halkan Council #9 (August 1975)
  2. from The Halkan Council #9 (August 1975)
  3. from A Piece of the Action #37 (March 1976)
  4. from Saurian Brandy/Dandelion Wine January 1977
  5. from Saurian Brandy/Dandelion Wine January 1977
  6. from Comlink #48 (1991)
  7. Martin Eade in Constellation #144
  8. Lysator, Cassie N., dated January, 1994.
  9. Lysator, Angela R, dated January, 1994.
  10. Lysator, DARVOS, dated January, 1994.
  11. Henry Jenkins. Intensities interview at Console-ing Passions, University of Bristol, July 7, 2001. pdf