Freaks have evolved a lot of specific terms, jargon, and slang that they use to talk about the things they’re most interested in. Sometimes the worst problem is when a term has some common meaning in the mainstream, but a different, more specialized, meaning among freaks — that’s when an outsider is likely to be completely lost. This listing is not a comprehensive guide; that would take far too much effort and room. Instead, it should give you the bare minimum you need to orient yourself in the most common sorts of freak sites and conversations.
A fairly comprehensive listing of hacker/geek jargon only can be found at Eric Raymond’s Jargon File; similar sites for other freak tribes may or may not exist.
- Term for Japanese animation. Pronounced with emphasis on the first syllable; sounds like the verb “animate” without the final T: “ANN-ih-may”.
- Compound abbreviation formed from B&D (“bondage & dominance”), D/s (“Dominance/submission”), and S&M (“sadism & masochism”, or just sadomasochism).
- One who submits to a top in a BDSM scene. Roughly synonymous with sub.
- Geeks and hackers rarely use the word “computer”; instead, they’ll often use “box”: “This Linux box is our main web server.” This term is considered more informal than the otherwise-synonymous machine.
- broom closet
- Where Wiccans and (sometimes) other Pagans are said to be if they keep their religion secret; analogous to just “the closet” to refer to secret homosexuality. “Joe’s still in the broom closet; he could get fired if he comes out.”
- card game
- In the freak community, this normally refers to a CCG such as M:tG, Lunch Money, Jyhad, etc., not to games such as poker, bridge or blackjack.
- Short for “convention”, this always means a science fiction convention. Despite being called “science fiction” cons, they have expanded in scope and now include nearly all freak tribes and sub-groups.
- Someone who breaks into computers, writes viruses, and performs other acts of technological vandalism and sabotage; what most people think of when they hear the word hacker (q.v.).
- Short for “dominant”; one who dominates another in a BDSM scene. Roughly synonymous with top; the person dominated is a sub. Also seen in the feminized version “domme”.
- Unless qualified or used in a specific context, refers to sci-fi and fantasy (“SF/F”) fandom — particularly as an (at least somewhat) organized phenomenon.
- Unless used in a specific context, generally refers by default to a role-playing gamer (tabletop or live-action). In some circles, may refer by default to a video or computer gamer.
- Among freaks who are into writing and publishing, “genre” refers to the sci-fi, fantasy, and horror fields, and implies that they largely overlap each other.
- Among many freaks, and especially geeks, this term is generally used to mean “someone good with computers; a computer guru or wizard”, and has no connotation of illegality or electronic intrusion: “He’s a big-time Linux kernel hacker” [i.e., he contributes software code and improvements to the Linux kernel]. The derogatory terms cracker and “script kiddie” are often reserved for people who break into computers and crash things. See also Eric Raymond’s definition of hacker (from the Jargon File).
- (Also, l33t-speak, l337-sp34k, etc.) A style of alphanumeric slang created by crackers, and now adopted by actual hackers to make fun of them as a sarcastic or ironic device. “H3y, d00d! u R t3h roxx0r!” “That’s nice. Please don’t subject me to leet-speak.” More often shortened to just leet (or l33t ot l337): “Does any one here speak l33t?”
- Geeks and hackers rarely use the word “computer”; instead, they normally call one a “machine”: “I have a Solaris machine at home.” The word box is also used, with a more informal connotation.
- (Also, “power-gamer”) A role-player known for creating grossly overpowered characters, prone to pointlessly violent and self-aggrandizing actions. (In-game; in real life, they’re usually quite pacifist, if somewhat immature.) A term of opprobrium. A noticeable percentage of male gamers go through a munchkin phase during their teen years, but they usually (hopefully) grow out of it.
- As a noun, a person who isn’t a freak of any kind; a mainstreamer. Often has negative connotations, and an overtone of boring conformity. (The term “muggle”, from the Harry Potter books, is gaining some currency in Neopagan circles.) Can also be applied as an adjective: “In my mundane job, I’m a car salesman.” The term “Mundania” is also used, as if it were a country that mundanes inhabit.
- Used in the alt-sex and especially BDSM communities to denote sexual activity, and often to mean BDSM activity. “We’re going to a play party (i.e., a sex party) on Saturday”; “I played (i.e., did a scene) with him the other night.”
- Common shortening of “polyamory” (or of “polyamorous”, depending on whether it’s used as an adjective or noun). Used of people, relationships, practices, and so on: “Is he poly?” “The poly lifestyle”, etc.
- Used by some poly people to indicate that one of their partners is of great importance to them. Often used as a noun: “I’m Jennifer, pleased to meet you. This is my primary, John.” Compare secondary. A primary is generally a long-term live-in lover, at least, and may well be a legal spouse. It’s possible to have a primary and no secondaries; or vice-versa. It's also possible to have more than one primary (as in the case of three or more people who are all married and living together).
- This term is primarily used simply as an abbreviation of “gay, lesbian, bisexual, and/or transgendered”; it makes the names of things much shorter and less unwieldy. (In this sense, it sometimes includes other sexual minorities, like the BDSM crowd). Especially in the context of gay/lesbian political activism, “queer” can also be used to denote the more transgressive elements of the movement. In this second sense, it contrasts with the assimilationist “we’re just like normal folks” aproach typified by the Human Rights Campaign.
- Heavily context-dependent; can mean the local community of a particular tribe (“the goth scene”, “the poly scene”), or it can mean a session of BDSM sex (“I had a scene with her last night”). Just for added confusion, the word can also be used in the mainstream sense of “He made a nasty scene at the club last weekend” (in which case, everyone on the scene (sense 1) is hearing about it).
- Used by some poly people to indicate a partner who’s not as important as a primary would be. In mainstream terms, this might be anywhere from a casual fling to someone with whom you have a long-term, close friendship, but both of you know you couldn’t stand living together. Often used as a noun: “This is Steven, one of my secondaries.” It’s possible to have one or more secondaries and no primary.
- Short for “submissive”; one who submits to a dom in a BDSM scene. Roughly synonymous with bottom.
- In BDSM, a person who enjoys both top (or dom) and bottom (or sub) roles.
- One who dominates or controls a bottom in a BDSM scene. Roughly synonymous with dom.
Of course, these are not the only terms in use in the freak subculture(s) that aren’t known to the average mainstreamer. Other possibilities range from names of individual RPGs to titles of animé works to slang and jargon that would simply require too much explanation... this project could easily fill an entire web site. We’ve had to keep this page to a manageable size, and this page is only intended as a quickie guide anyway. If you need further pointers, just ask the freaks you’re in contact with to explain themselves when appropriate.