A fan, sometimes also called aficionado or supporter, is a person with a liking and enthusiasm for something. Fans of a particular thing or person constitute its fanbase or fandom. They may show their enthusiasm by being a member of a fan club, holding fan convention, creating fanzine, writing fan mail, or by promoting the object of their interest and attention.
Paul Dickson, in his Dickson Baseball Dictionary, cites William Henry Nugent's work that claims it comes from fancy, a 19th century term from England that referred mainly to followers of boxing. According to that unsupported explanation, it was originally shortened to fance then just to the homonym fans. However, Merriam-Webster, the Oxford dictionary and other recognized sources define it as a shortened version of the word fanatic, and the word did first become popular in reference to an enthusiastic follower of a baseball team. (Fanatic itself, introduced into English around 1550, means "marked by excessive enthusiasm and often intense uncritical devotion". It comes from the Modern Latin fanaticus, meaning "insanely but divinely inspired". The word originally pertained to a temple or sacred place [Latin fanum, poetic English fane]. The modern sense of "extremely zealous" dates from around 1647; the use of fanatic as a noun dates from 1650.) However, the term "fancy" for an intense liking of something, while being of a different etymology, coincidentally carries a less intense but somewhat similar connotation to "fanatic". The word emerged as an Americanism around 1889.
Supporter is a synonym to "fan" which predates the latter term and as such is still commonly used in British English, especially to denote fans of sport teams. However, the term "fan" has become popular throughout the English-speaking world, including the United Kingdom. The term supporter is also used in a political sense in the United States, to a fan of a politician, a political party, and a controversial issue.
Fans usually have a strong enough interest that some changes in their lifestyle are made to accommodate devotion to the focal object. As well, fans have a desire for external involvement - are motivated to demonstrate their involvement with the area of interest through certain behaviors (attending convention, posting online, etc.). Fans often have a "wish to acquire" material objects related to the area of interest, such as a baseball hit by a famous slugger or a used guitar pick from their musical hero. As well, some fans have a desire for social interaction with other fans. This again may take many forms, from casual conversation, e-mail, chat rooms, and electronic mailing lists to regular face-to-face meetings such as fan club meetings and organized conventions.
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