What does OTP mean?

Claire Toureille September 26, 2018
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Callie and Arizona's relationship was a landmark moment in TV history (ABC)

If you don’t follow internet slang, the meaning of certain abbreviations is up for interpretation. Like OTP. What does it even mean?

You can’t remember how it started, but now it’s everywhere and you feel it’s too late to ask people what these abbreviations mean.

But don’t despair, my friend. You can count on us. Read on, and you’ll learn everything you need to know on OTP, its meaning, its origins and variables.

What does OTP mean?

Tara (left) and Willow were the first lesbian couple to share a kiss on TV in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (20th Century Fox)

OTP means one true pairing and emerged in the world of fandoms. The term is basically used by fans to describe their favourite couple on a television show, movies or in a book series.

The couple doesn’t have to be canonical (official), and OTP can also be used to describe a ship (a non-couple) the fan would like to see happening on the show. Sadly, it doesn’t mean that their prayers will be heard.

Here’s one example. Buffy and Angel were a OTP in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and they did date in the series. Some fans feel that actually, Buffy and Willow were a OTP, and that pairing never happened on the show.

People are very emotionally invested in their OTPs and some even write fan fictions about them. For instance, many Harry Potter fans shipped Harry Potter and his Hogwarts nemesis Draco Malfoy, which resulted in many a spicy fan fiction back in the day.

OTP can be used about characters on any given medium, be it TV, movies, books or video games, and technically can also apply to real people. For instance, some people could say Michelle and Barack Obama are a OTP.

Origins of OTP

The first occurrence of the term OTP was used to describe NSYNC members.

The term OTP has been around for a long long time. According to Know Your Meme, it was first used in 2002 in reference to members of pop band NSYNC.

Here is how it was used:

In some ways, this is my OTP, if by “true” we’re talking about what I really think is canonically plausible. Even if it’s not a sexual thing (though I think it is, or has been), they vacation together, they’re off on their bus together with Joey & Lance’s Animal Planet, Lance is the one Joey wanted as godfather to his child, they double date with Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson.

Variations on OTP

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Warner Bros)
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Warner Bros)

Usually, it’s understood that people can have several OTPs for a single work of fiction, but they don’t involve the same character. But if they really are undecided, they can have a TTP, which stands for two true pairing or a OTT, which stands for one true threesome.

Another variation is called a BroTP, which combines bro and OTP and describes a platonic relationship—like Friends‘ Joey and Chandler.

Parody OTPs also exist and usually make fun of a character’s love of food, for instance.

More: fandom, otp

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