Everything you need to know about 'shipping' -- the strange concept that's changing the way teens talk about relationships

If you see someone on Twitter or Tumblr discussing “shipping,” don’t assume they’re talking about mailing a package. The term has taken on new life thanks to people, predominantly teens, using the word to discuss ideal relationships between fictional characters, celebrities, and even their own friends.

Shipping originated in the world of fandoms, which are groups of hardcore fans of movies, books, and television shows. According to the ridiculousy comprehensive fandom slang guides of the internet, the word derives from “relationshipper,” typically shortened to just “shipper.” Relationshippers are people who care deeply about the romantic relationships between their favourite characters — and sometimes, celebrities or even the people in their own lives.

So instead of saying, “Romeo and Juliet are a perfect couple,” a Shakespeare-loving shipper would say, “I ship Romeo and Juliet.”

“To say, ‘I ship that couple,’ is a short way for someone to say that they believe in a couple, that they’re rooting for them to succeed,” Michael, my friend’s 15-year-old brother who is a high school sophomore from New Jersey, told Tech Insider. “The term has evolved in teenage slang to become a widespread part of our vocabulary.”

A quick Twitter search for the phrase “I ship them” will show you just how widespread the term has become, with thousands of people all over the world tweeting about their favourite couples.