Slang dictionary


[ hed-kan-uhn ]

What does headcanon mean?

Headcanon is a slang term for someone’s personal interpretation of or belief about the details of a fictional story that aren’t part of the “official” account.

In pop culture, the word canon refers to the aspects of a story or fictional “world” or “universe” that are considered to be “official”—meaning they have been confirmed within the story or in some other way (for example, an author or director might confirm something to be canon in an interview or in bonus material).

In contrast, headcanon is simply what a fan believes (or wants) to be true about a story. It can involve backstory, what happens after the story ends, or any other aspect. Headcanon often involves shipping, which is the practice of romantically linking two characters who don’t have any romantic interactions in the actual story.

Of course, it is possible for someone’s headcanon to become canon if such details later become part of the story or are confirmed as true in some way.

Sometimes, the term is used in the context of theories that are intended to be humorous or ridiculous, as opposed to serious interpretations.

Example: In my headcanon, Augustus Gloop wins the lifetime supply of chocolate after Willy Wonka admits he never said not to drink from the chocolate river. #JusticeforAugustus

Related words

fanfiction, OTP, stan

Where does headcanon come from?

toy Star Wars figures showing a bounty hunter and Han Solo, in blue filter.

In headcanon, the word canon refers to the facts of a story that are confirmed to have happened or that are otherwise considered “official.”

The word head is used in reference to the fact that headcanon is only true in a fan’s head (that is, their thoughts or imagination)—it consists of their own interpretation or beliefs about a story.

The term headcanon has been used since at least 2007, when it was used by authors of fan fiction to refer to aspects they personally believed to be true.

Examples of headcanon

Headcanon: The spider that bit Peter Parker was given the powers of the human, thus forming the backstory to Charlotte's Web. #SpiderMan
@ChrisJonesArt, April 8, 2021
One possible headcanon is that a gaseous stimulant was pumped into the dormitory to wake everybody up simultaneously, but we'll probably never know for sure.
Philip Ellis, Men’s Health, October 13, 2021

Who uses headcanon?

Headcanon is most commonly used by members of fan communities. It’s sometimes used jokingly when presenting especially wild theories.

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This is not meant to be a formal definition of headcanon like most terms we define on, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of headcanon that will help our users expand their word mastery.