Smut (glossary term)

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Synonyms: porn, erotica
See also: PWP
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Smut is a term for fanworks, such as fanfic or podfic, that contain an overwhelming majority of explicit sex scenes or are, in themselves, one explicitly detailed sex scene. In that case it is synonymous with PWP.

One fannish early use of the term is in the October 1981 issue of The Clipper Trade Ship.

The mainstream definitions of the term relate it to "obscene" or "offensive" material, but in many fandoms smut is considered an affectionate term, not a value judgement.[1][2]

The origin of the term used in positive ways appears to be based in X-Files/the rise of the Internet. It may have been used primarily amongst het shippers.

Smut is a canonical tag on AO3 and returned over 66k uses as of Jan 2016.

Some Fans Like the Word, Others Not So Much

From an X-Files fan in 2000:

I have never had problems with the word “smut.” I have heard it said that people in the fanfic community at one time had problems with the word, that it conveyed a sense of pornography. I have never felt that, but I’ve only been involved in the fanfic community for a little over a year. It’s likely that by the time I arrived on the scene, the term had already evolved to a more accepted status.

To me, “smut” communicates a certain cheek, a certain indulgence, in describing the activity many of us like to see Mulder and Scully engage in. Perhaps at one time, using the word “smut” to describe their lovemaking seemed to degrade the act. It doesn’t seem that way any longer. Perhaps like many words that are used far and wide and with no contrition or apology and with a good dose of humor, it has become harmless—now nothing but a innocuous expression that conveys fondness for the genre, and perhaps pokes a little fun at ourselves when some of us claim to be nothing but “smutsters” who like nothing better than to enjoy a “smut biscuit.”

Obviously, this ability for so many of us to refer to it with such affection, self-deprecation and enjoyment makes it rather hard to buy that we’re all pornographers who are dragging our beloved fictional characters down into a pit of filth and damnation. <g> Instead, I believe that we are, in this small way, each celebrating our own inherent sexuality, realizing that it is one of the few perks we get in this sometime-comedy of errors we call life. [3]

From a Star Trek fan in 1999:

... I sure dislike referring to K/S as smut. This is probably one of those words, like "chick," that a new generation is taking back from those who used it derogatorily, and making it our own. But I sure don't relate to this one. [4]

Examples of use

The term is widely used on a variety of platforms: LJ, DW, Tumblr, Reddit and more.

Uncountable Noun


Yummy erotic fiction or art.

This is smut: caution advised if you are under 18. [5]

Finally, did I mention: I love smut? [6]

Dan catches Phil moaning his name. Smut ensues. [7]

Adjective or Adverb

A collection of smutty dirty one-shots previously posted on my blog. Enjoy! [8]

And don't forget to check the NC-17 tag, there are a lot of stories that don't have penetrative sex but are really smutty. :D [9]

So you wanna know how to write a good smut scene, eh? Well first you’re going to have to understand human anatomy- mostly male anatomy. [10]

Countable Noun

This possible new use seems to be in fashion amoungst newer/younger fen, on Tumblr for example, possibly as an abbreviation for "smut imagine" or similar:

Could you make a smut where you and harry get horny and decide to have some 'private time' on tour and when you guys are so close some one walks in on you guys (preferably one of the boys) and makes fun of you both afterwards?? [11]

Can someone write a smut for me? [12]

Request: “please write a smut in which damon will be rough beacause you had a fight and dominant” [13]

Tumblr request: "Anonymous: If you could write a really smutty detailed Patrick Stump smut where he basically teases the fuck out you I would love you 5ever" [14]


  1. ^ Merriam-webster's Simple Definition: language, pictures, or stories that deal with sex in a way that is offensive.
  2. ^ Cambridge Online definition: magazines, ​books, ​pictures, filmsor ​jokes that ​offend some ​people because they ​relate to ​sex.
  3. ^ comments by Narida Law in Is Smut Erotica or Just Pornography, and How Do You Write It Without Bursting Into Flames?
  4. ^ from The K/S Press #36
  5. ^ Top Urban Dictionary definition as of Jan 12, 2016, posted by Bunny of Doom on Sept 7, 2004, accessed Jan 12, 2016.
  6. ^ Yay, Yuletide!, LJ post by bookshop, posted Oct 28, 2012, accessed Jan 12, 2016.
  7. ^ Blue-Eyed Boy (Phan Smut) by SupernaturalDreams, fic summary posted to AO3 2015-05-08.
  8. ^ Smutty Oneshots, posted by BeautifulDisasterAJ on Aug 13, 2010 on
  9. ^ Harry/Draco Fanfiction Recs Archive, posted by LJ user capitu on Aug 4, 2012, accessed Jan 12, 2016.
  10. ^ How to Write and Accurate Gay Sex Scene by Lemon-Sprinkles [sic], by Lemon-Sprinkles, posted Jan 12, 2011.
  11. ^ Anonymous request, published (early 2015 sometime) on the sorrynotharry Tumblr.
  12. ^ [ Yahoo Answers request, posted July 6, 2015 by Maria.
  13. ^ Anonymous request, published on the TVD imagines Tumblr Dec 15, 2015
  14. ^ Innocent Eyes & A Teasing Smile, posted to AO3 2016-01-01 by BeAZombieLikeMe