top of page

Romancelandia Glossary: A Guide to Romance Abbreviations and Terms

Romancelandia Glossary: Romance Abbreviations, Slang Terms and More

Alpha – a love interest (hero or heroine) who is in charge of their world situation, a character characterized by extreme competence. See also Alphahole, Beta.

Alphahole – An alpha hero who has crossed the line into toxic masculinity.

Autobuy – An author whose work you trust will always be awesome, and therefore buy without reading reviews or summaries.

ARC – Advanced Reader Copy. Free books sent to reviewers before books are published.

Backlist – Books which have already been published by an author or publisher.

BDSM – Bondage and Discipline (BD), Dominance and Submission (DS), Sadism and Masochism (SM).

BBW - Big beautiful women

BROTP/Bromance: A friendship (between guys) that you adore!

Beta – A love interest secure in their on personality without the need to dominate their partner. See also Cinnamon Roll.

Beta Reader – Early readers who give feedback to an author on their unpublished work.

Big Mis – The big misunderstanding, a dramatic conflict between characters which could have been easily solved if they would just talk to each other.

Binge – To read everything you can find in a short amount of time, often to the exclusion of other obligations. Can be applied to a particular author’s work or books in a particular genre or trope.

Book Boyfriend – The fictional hero you want for yourself, Mr. Darcy being a prime example for many readers.

Black Moment – The point near the end of a book when everything has gone terribly, horribly wrong and it seems all hope is lost.

Bodice Ripper – Historical romances from the 1970-80s known for misogyny, non-consensual sex, and covers that non-romance readers often see as a current stereotype of the genre. See also Old Skool, Rapemance,

Clinch Cover.

Book Birthday – The day your book is released.

Book Hangover: When a book leaves you emotionally drained. Often this leads to the reader not being able to jump right into another book and sometimes leads to a … Usually what happens when you've been BookSmacked

Book Tok - Tik Tok accounts/posts that talk about books, reading,

BookSmacked - What happens when you read a book so good you need to tell everyone about it. You've been BookSmacked !!! Also an amazing book blog which you can find here

Bookstagram: Instagram feeds that are dedicated to pictures of books.

Bookstagrammer: Instagram accounts that post pictures of books.

CH-Cliff hanger when the book ends suddenly or a large plot twist occurs and is left unresolved. See also Cliffy

Category Romance – A short romance novel (55k words) categorized by tropes and heat level by publisher’s line, i.e. Harlequin Blaze or Silhouette Romantic Suspense. Single-title Romance.

Catnip – A trope you always want to read more of. See also Autobuy.

Cinnamon Roll – A hero who is straight up sweet and possibly too good for this world.

Clean Romance – A romance which doesn’t include sex or swearing. May include closed-door sex, or no more than kissing depending on interpretation. See this Book Riot post, “I’m Not Dirty: Why Calling Books “Clean” is a problem” for why this is a controversial term. See also Sweet Romance.

Cliffy - Cliff hanger when the book ends suddenly or a large plot twist occurs and is left unresolved.

Clinch Cover – A book cover featuring a couple clinging to one another, possibly with their clothes about to fall off, probably with Fabio. See also Bodice Ripper, Old Skool.

Contemp: Contemporary fiction, meaning that it takes place in modern day and generally doesn’t have any magical, sci-fi or fantasy elements.

Daphne: A female character who has to be rescued all the time (in reference to Daphne from Scooby Doo)

DIK – Acronym for Desert Island Keeper. A book you could happily reread forever.

DNF – Did not finish.

Dubcon – Dubious consent.See also Noncon, Rapemance.

Duke of Slut – The aristocratic hero who never met a woman he wouldn’t sleep with, and certainly never a woman he wanted to marry, until the heroine.

D/s - Dominant-submissive

DD/lg- Dom Daddy- little girl

F2L – Friends to lovers.

F/F – A female-female romantic pairing.

FMC- Female Main ChAracter

FTB - fade to black. When a sex is implied btw the characters. You know it is going to happen but the book doesn't go into the sex scene in detail it just infers it.

Fated Mates – Plot device by which two characters are destined to be together, common in Paranormal Romance. See Insta-love

Grovel – A Grand Gesture called for when a character (often the hero) has done something Very Bad to their love interest and needs to make up for it. May come after the Black Moment.

GR: Goodreads (a site where you can post reviews and more!).

HEA – Happily ever after. Required component of a genre romance.

HC: Hardcover.

Heat Level – How much sex or passion is present on the page. See also Clean, Sweet, Spicy.



HFN – Happy for now. A recently acceptable alternative to the HEA in which the couple may be together, but not married and pregnant at the end of the story.

H/h – Hero and heroine.

Hybrid author – An author who has works with traditional publishing but has also indie published.

Indie – Also indie author, indie publishing, indiepub, independent publishing. Authors who act as publishing entrepreneurs, coordinating editors, designers, and marketing independently rather than work for a traditional publisher. See also Hybrid, Traditional.

Inspi – Short for “inspirational”, also spelled Inspy. Romance with Christian or religious themes. Probably Sweet or Clean.

Insta-love – When one or both love interests immediately falls for the other without an emotional struggle. See also Insta-lust.

Insta-lust – When one or both love interests want in the other’s pants from the first meeting, though emotional connection may take longer. Does not require instant consummation. Contrast with Insta-love, Slow Burn.

J/P - Jealous and Possesive

JAFF – Jane Austen fanfic, i.e. novels which create original stories using characters from Austen’s novels.

KU=Kindle Unlimited

Keeper – A book or romantic partner you would like to keep around for always. See also DIK.

Kill a fairy first – Reading the end of a book to make sure there’s a happy ending. See also Spoilers.

May-December Romance – A relationship spanning a large age gap.

Meet-cute – The unlikely circumstances under which romantic protagonists initially meet.

LBS – Local book store.

LT-love triangle

Mary Sue: A character who is too perfect and/or too good

M/F – A male-female romantic pairing.

M/M – A male-male romantic pairing.

MC – Abbreviation for contemporary subgenre “motorcycle club.” May also indicate Multi-Cultural or Main Character.

MFM – Male, Female, Male A ménage a trois relationship in which the male characters share sexy times with the female character but not with each other.

MMF – Male, Male, Female A ménage a trois relationship in which the male characters share sexy times.

NA- New Adult

NBR - not book related

NCS-not a complete series, See also UFS

NSFW- not safe for work. The book is so damn hot it's not safe for consumption at work, others will notice you reading and not working because you will have physical reaction.

Noncon – Non-consensual. See also Dubcon, Rapemance.

Old Skool – Romance novels of the 1970s and 80s, generally featuring attitudes towards sexuality and consent which are now considered outdated and problematic.

OM- Other Man OW- Other Woman OOP – Out of print.

OMYM – Older Man Younger Woman

PB – Paperback.

PNR: Paranormal Romance (usually adult).

POV - point of view

Rapemance – A story in which the heroine discovers she enjoys sex after being raped by the hero, with whom she subsequently falls in love. Mainly associated with Old Skool romance of the 1970-80s but unfortunately did not die with the 80s.

Regency – Metanym used to refer to any historical romance set during England’s Regency Era, i.e., between 1811 – 1820, but may be more broadly used for 1790s-1840s. Preceded by the Georgian Era, followed by the Victorian Era. Ur-Regency authors are Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer.

RH – Reverse Harem - multiple male love interests focusing on one female love interest.

RITA – Romance Writers of America award meant to recognize excellence in published romance novels and novellas, but increasingly known for overlooking authors of color and diverse voices

Self-published – Also selfpub. See Indie.

SA= Standalone

Shipping – Advocating for a romantic relationship between two characters who may or may not have a relationship in currently published work.

Single-title Romance – Traditionally published novels not part of a category romance line which run closer to 75K words.

Slow Burn – A relationship which takes a while to get going. If a couple hasn’t kissed by the halfway mark but are burning up the sheets at the end, the story is probably a slow burn. The opposite of Insta-love or Insta-lust.

Spicy – Romance with sex on the page. Contrast with Sweet. See also Heat Level.

Spoilers – Also “Spoiler alert”. Used in reviews or conversation as a warning that you are about to reveal plot points.See also Kill a fairy first.

Stan – Portmanteau of “stalker” and “fan,” generally used to self-identify as a superfan of something.

Stepback – A second cover image behind the front cover, generally showing the character or couple in a slightly different pose.

Sweet Romance – A feel-good romance without sex, probably not even closed-door sex. See also Clean Romance, Heat Level, Inspi.

Traditional – Also traditional publishing, tradpub, New York published, or New York. Books published by publishing company, that arranges editing and cover design, and possibly promotional material. See also Indie, Hybrid.

TBR – To be read. Often “TBR pile.”

Trope – Story elements often repeated within a genre. Examples, Opposites Attracts, Friends to Lovers

TSTL – A character who makes repeated bad decisions, leading to the judgement that they are “too stupid to live.”

The Feels: This means that you were overwhelmed with emotion when reading the book often meaning that lots of different emotions were involved. It’s high praise to say that a book gave you all the feels!

UBS – Used book store.

UFS- unfinished series

UF: Urban Fantasy.

UST=Unresolved Sexual Tension

YA - young adult

Wall-banger – A book so bad you’d like to throw against the wall.

WIP – Work in progress.


bottom of page