Brush Up on Your YA Vocab for Dictionary Day

Today is Noah Webster’s 256th birthday, also known as Dictionary Day! To celebrate our mutual love of words, here’s some YA romance-related vocabulary for your enjoyment.

Book boyfriend: A male character in a book that you just love so much, you wish they were real. *Sigh* I’m looking at you, Fitzwilliam Darcy.

Fandom: The loving community of fans that centers around a specific book or series. Some even have special nicknames for themselves such as Potterheads and Tributes. Go Gryffindor/District 10! (Curious where you would belong? Check out Pottermore to be sorted into a Hogwarts house and this quiz on Buzzfeed to find out your Panem District.)

Fangirling: A powerful emotional and physical reaction to something you love so much that you JUST CAN’T. Symptoms include fainting, squealing, hand-flapping, hyperventilating and/or hysteria.

Fluff: A story that is meant to just be a light-hearted, feel-good, not-emotionally-strenuous read.

HEA: Stands for “Happily Ever After.” At the end of the book or series, the main couple is happily together, the conflicts have been permanently resolved and we know for certain that everything is going to be OK.

HFN: Means “Happily For Now.” In the end, everyone is OK and happy, but who knows what the future holds. This is particularly predominant in YA romance. Maybe our couple had a steamy romance in high school, but what will happen after graduation? The characters are just too young to know whether they’ll stay together forever.

Love triangle (or really any sort of polygon): Who doesn’t love a good love triangle? When three people are entangled in a romantic relationship, the tension builds and we’re left guessing who will end up with whom in the end.

Mary Sue: This term is probably more widely used in fanfiction circles, but a Mary Sue is a practically-perfect-in-every-way type of character. Usually, but not always, Mary Sues represent an author’s wish to insert themselves into their stories, so the character becomes an idealized version of the writer. Bella Swan is a good example of this.

Meet cute: When the main romantic pairing encounters each other for the first time. In A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall, Gabe and Lea (literally) bump into each other outside of creative writing class. The titular characters in Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell sit next to each other on the bus. They meet, and it’s cute.

OTP: Stands for “One True Pairing.” This is the one couple that you most desperately want to get together in the end because OMG THEY’RE JUST PERFECT. Subject to personal preferences.

Shipping: If you want to see two characters pair up in some way and you just love them oh so much, you ship them. For example, I just recently finished Scarlet by Marissa Meyer and I totally ship Scarlet and Wolf. I would love to see them get together in the end! Shipping usually refers to romantic relationships, but not always. You can ship a pair of platonic friends, too.

Squee: Can be used as a noun, verb or sometimes even an adjective. When you squee, you typically make a high-pitched noise out of sheer delight. Such as, “Aww, a puppy! Squee!” Squeeing is a common occurrence during fangirling.

Swoon: That feeling you get when something is so wonderfully romantic, you get weak in the knees. Usually accompanied by wistful sighing and a dreamy facial expression.

Fun fact: This is also a common side-effect of being a regular on the Swoon Reads site!

Happy Dictionary Day! We’re celebrating by reading some more wonderfully swoonworthy manuscripts. We hope you’ll join us!

About the author - Emily S.

Swoon editor, IT girl, customer service representative, Small Council member, the-one-who-makes-the-coffee-but-mostly-just-on-Monday-and-sometimes-Thursday, etc.

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6 comments on "Brush Up on Your YA Vocab for Dictionary Day"

Squirrel Pants on Oct. 16, 2014, 11:14 a.m. said:

Squirrel Pants


I love this list! One of my fave YA vocab words is Mysterious Loner Dude (I learned that from The Forever Young Adult website). Examples: Jonah Griggs (Jellicoe Road), Cameron Quick (Sweethearts), and my book boyfriend, Wes (The Truth About Forever).

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Emily S. on Oct. 16, 2014, 2:36 p.m. said:

Emily S.


Haha Mysterious Loner Dude. I love it! Those brooding types definitely get me every time. I mentioned “Scarlet,” and in that book Wolf is DEFINITELY an all-star MLD. He’s a street fighter, he doesn’t talk much, he’s got scars and tattoos, and we don’t know practically anything about him. I love those characters! Especially when they start warming up and letting their guard down and we start to see more of their sensitive side and humanity… *swoon*

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Erleen Alvarez on Oct. 16, 2014, 11:02 p.m. said:

Erleen Alvarez


I think you forgot the word, flail or flailing. It’s often accompanied with squee/squeeing and it’s the normal reaction of book lovers when they received a book they’re waiting for. 😀

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Erleen Alvarez on Oct. 17, 2014, 3:36 a.m. said:

Erleen Alvarez


Yeah, just this Tuesday, I flailed and squeed when I received a harcover copy of The Girl from the Well. It’s perfect for my Halloween read. 😀

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Emily S. on Oct. 16, 2014, 11:46 p.m. said:

Emily S.


Of course! Good one. I was just flailing this afternoon when I finally got my hands on a copy of Firebug by Lish McBride. How about you, Erleen? Get anything flail-worthy lately?

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Emily S. on Oct. 17, 2014, 9:09 a.m. said:

Emily S.


Ooh, that sounds good! I’ll have to add that to my list.

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