Dear Slim…The Word “Stan” Is Now In The Merriam Webster Dictionary
Nearly 20 years ago, Eminem introduced millions to one of music’s most legendary fictional characters. The Dido-featuring song “Stan,” co-produced by 45 King and Em’ depicted a fan writing a series of letters to the rapidly-rising Rap superstar. In an equally famous music video, the character of “Stan” was played by film actor Devon Sawa, who emulates Eminem’s style of dress, bleached hair of the period, and even drives the same kind of mid-’70s Chevy Monte Carlo that Eminem featured on the artwork to 1999’s Slim Shady LP.
“Stan” takes his obsession to new levels in the letters. Infatuation turns to anger, given that Eminem has not replied to his correspondence or the cassette tape demo that was included in the package. By the time Dr. Dre’s protege responds, in a fourth verse, he realizes amid writing his reply, that “Stan” has died in a fatal car accident.
For many Hip-Hop fans, “Stan” has been in the lexicon ever since The Marshall Mathers LP and its double-platinum single. Fans regularly dismiss each other as being “Stans,” a level of fandom that can sometimes lack objectivity. It can also be used as a verb in the same context. Notably, Nas label JAY-Z as “a Stan” on “Ether” during their early 2000s beef. Eminem has returned to reference the fan in other songs, as recently as 2017’s “Walk On Water.” Elton John performed Dido’s part during a high-profile Grammy Awards performance. Meanwhile, former Em’ foe Canibus dedicated parts of his C! True Hollywood Stories to resurrecting the same character that died in Eminem’s song. From nearly the moment the single was released, “Stan” took on a life of its own.
In 2017, The Oxford Dictionary added the word’s Rap-inspired definition to its text. Nearly two years later, The Merriam Webster Dictionary is following suit. Notably, the Spring, Massachusetts-based publisher of reference books enters the word into their dictionary as both a noun or a verb.
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) April 23, 2019
The dictionary defines “Stan” as “an extremely or excessively enthusiastic and devoted fan.” They also classify the term as “disparaging,” and include that it comes from slang.
Earlier this year, Em’ re-released The Slim Shady LP with an expanded set of tracks, including a Wake Up Show freestyle.
#BonusBeat: The “Stan” video:
Additional Reporting by Bandini.