Becoming a fan of BTS can be a bit overwhelming at first. While bopping along to their music and obsessing over how cute they look is fun, you also have to juggle all the lingo the BTS ARMY and the members themselves use. What is a maknae? Why does everyone love the color purple so much? I thought there were only seven members, so who the heck is Agust D? Don't despair, though — I've compiled a glossary of BTS words every ARMY should know.
RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook have been dominating the globe since their debut in 2013, and as you can imagine, amassing a fanbase over seven years leads to some inside jokes only ARMYs understand. Beyond the BTS-specific terms, though, anyone unfamiliar with the K-pop industry or South Korean culture might find themselves tripped up by cultural references or Korean words they've never heard before.
That's where this glossary comes in handy; it contains everything from some of the members' nicknames to the terminology they use in their music. Read on to find out what BTS actually stands for, why so many ARMYs call Jimin "mochi," and more.
Aegyo is a Korean word that refers to a "cute" form of speaking or acting that often involves using a higher voice, making cute faces, and using hand gestures. It's pretty commonly used among K-pop idols for fanservice.
Aegyo isn't part of BTS' overall image, as is the case for some groups, but the members do sometimes use aegyo just for kicks. And, honestly, it’s adorable. Check out this video of Jungkook doing the aegyo that would inspire fan chants for his solo track "Euphoria” starting at the 3:28 mark below:
2. Agust D
You actually already know Agust D — it's Suga. He adopted Agust D as a second alias for his solo endeavors. He came up with it by attaching the letters DT (which stands for his hometown, Daegu Town) to Suga, and then flipping the whole thing backwards (DT Suga = Agust D).
Agust D is also the name of Suga’s first mixtape released in 2016, as well as the lead single off of it, so if someone mentions Agust D, they could be talking about any of those things.
The reason ARMY is capitalized is because it's actually an acronym that stands for Adorable Representative MC for Youth. That's kind of a mouthful, though, so most of the time you'll see BTS fans referred to as ARMYs, or collectively as the BTS ARMY. The members of BTS came up with the name themselves, and chose it because an army is never without its armor (which, in this case, is BTS themselves).
The ARMY logo is actually the inverse of the BTS logo, and when you stack the two on top of each other, they make the shape of a shield, playing into the ARMY theme.
4. ARMY Bombs
“ARMY Bomb” is the name of BTS’ official fandom light stick. We’re not talking one of those neon things you crack to make light up — we’re talking a battery-powered light designed specifically for BTS and ARMYs.
Light sticks play an important part in K-Pop fandoms because they make concerts more interactive. They’re sometimes waved in the air while concert attendees shout “fan chants” — chants sung in unison by fans during specific songs. The chants are usually super easy and involve repetition so non-Korean-speaking fans can easily participate as well. Sometimes, K-Pop labels come up with the official chants for songs, but other times they’re created by fans.
Using Big Hit’s official BTS Light Stick app, thousands of fans’ ARMY Bombs are synced with the live music at BTS’ concerts, and the sticks’ colors change along with the music as ARMYs wave them in the air chanting in unison. Altogether, it creates a multi-colored, pulsing sea of lights and sound that’s epic to experience live.
5. Bang PD/Hitman Bang
Bang Si-hyuk, who also goes by the stage names Hitman Bang or Bang PD, is the founder and co-CEO of BTS’ label, Big Hit Entertainment. He's had a hand in writing, composing, and producing many of your favorite BTS tracks, which is why he was invited to join the Recording Academy along with the members of BTS in June 2019.
Bang PD may be super powerful, but that doesn't stop BTS from poking fun at him every now and then, like in the video below. It just confirms how much they love and trust him.
While the official Big Hit Labels YouTube channel houses BTS’ music videos, the BANGTANTV YouTube channel gives a behind-the-scenes look at the boys’ lives with content uploaded nearly every other day, including:
Bangtan Bombs: Short 2-to-5-minute videos taking viewers behind the curtain. They document the members doing everything from competing in epic dance battles on set of their music videos and throwing each other surprise birthday parties, to them simply playing around with Snapchat filters.
Episodes: Extended Bangtan Bombs around 15-30 minutes long that focus on major moments in BTS’ career, like their first time attending the Grammys.
Choreography Videos: While fans get their first look at BTS’ choreography in music videos and through their TV performances, the intricate concepts and camera work sometimes prevent fans from seeing every member’s choreography in its entirety. Choreography videos show BTS performing their dance routines from beginning to end in one single shot, and in a simple practice room setting, so fans don’t miss a single move.
Bangtan Logs: Short video blogs where a single member or a couple of members sit down in front of a camera to give an update on how they’re doing at a particular moment. The titles are always stylized as the date the video was filmed next to the member’s name (i.e. “181004 V”) because, sometimes, they’re not uploaded until over a year after they were filmed.
Livestreams: While BTS primarily livestream on the VLIVE app, they occasionally stream special events like album release press conferences and concerts (like Bang Bang Con) on BANGTANTV. In April 2020, after BTS’ Map of the Soul tour was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, members began livestreaming updates on their lives on BANGTANTV as well.
Before January 2020, BANGTANTV did not provide English subtitles, so multilingual ARMYs put their translation skills to use by providing them for fans through fansites. But on Jan. 13, Big Hit posted the first Bangtan Bomb with official English subtitles and they’ve provided them on all BANGTANTV content since.
The concept of a bias is pretty self-explanatory: your bias is your favorite member. Within that, though, many ARMYs also have a "bias-wrecker," or a member they love so much, it makes them question their loyalty to their bias.
Sometimes, you might hear someone say their bias is "OT7." That stands for One True 7, meaning they just love all seven members equally and can't choose a favorite.
8. Big Hit
Big Hit Entertainment, often stylized as bighit by ARMY, is BTS' label and management company. In 2018, BTS extended their contract to remain under Big Hit until at least 2026.
Aside from BTS, Big Hit currently reps three other acts: soloist Lee Hyun, TOMORROW X TOGETHER, and GFriend (under their subsidiary label, Source Music).
Big Hit’s history is unique compared to other Korean entertainment companies. For a long time, SM Entertainment, JYP Entertainment, and YG Entertainment were considered the "Big Three" for commanding the K-Pop industry with their artists and raking in the most money. However, in 2019, Big Hit beat out the Big 3 companies in revenue, signaling a change in the traditional hierarchy.
Many ARMYs appreciate Big Hit for giving their acts artistic freedom, which is not always a given in the K-pop industry.
You know who BTS is, but do you know the multiple (yes, multiple) meanings of their name?
Big Hit explained the new name "symbolizes youth who don’t settle for their current reality and instead open the door and go forward to achieve growth." They unveiled this change with a new logo for both BTS and the ARMY that symbolize their evolving identity.
BT21 is BTS' collaboration with the character brand LINE FRIENDS. BTS partnered with the brand to make eight animated characters: one to represent each member of BTS and one to represent ARMYs.
Here's a quick rundown of the characters: RM’s is a blue koala named Koya, Jin’s is a white alpaca named RJ, Suga’s is a magical cookie named Shooky, Jungkook's is a pink bunny named Cooky, J-Hope’s is a masked, dancing pony named Mang, Jimin's is a yellow puppy named Chimmy, and V’s is a heart-shaped alien named Tata. VAN, a "space robot," represents the ARMY because they always protect the other BT21 characters.
Since BT21 launched in 2017, the members have created entire backstories for their characters, and those stories are ever-evolving. For example, while fans assumed the characters were all male because they’re based on the members of BTS, in a video posted on May 29, 2019, the members decided the characters were gender neutral. "I actually want all of them to be gender neutral,” Suga explained. “I don't want them to be classified into two gender groups."
You can read more descriptions of the characters on the LINE FRIENDS website, and watch the Making of BT21 series on YouTube to keep up with the BT21 characters’ stories. Beyond the BT21 digital content, there’s a massive line of merchandise fans can buy online or at physical LINE FRIENDS stores all over the world.
A comeback refers to an idol group's release of a new album. It's similar to the definition of a comeback in Western music, minus the long AF hiatus in between. Sometimes, a comeback includes the launch of a brand new concept — both visually and musically. More specifically, a comeback entails promotion through performances, often on Korean music shows.
BTS is known for some of the biggest comeback promotions in K-Pop (and the music industry in general). For their April 2018 Map of the Soul: Persona comeback, they debuted "Boy With Luv" live on Saturday Night Live. In February 2019, they topped that with their MotS: 7 comeback by performing “ON” on The Late Show in the middle of NYC’s Grand Central Station.
Cypher is an established term in the hip-hop music community. It’s when a group of rappers rap (usually freestyle) one after another, without the animosity of battling each other.
BTS has released four cyphers, and for each one BTS' "rap line" — composed of RM, Suga, and J-Hope — came together and spit serious fire to their haters. The last cypher came out in 2016 on their album Wings, and there's no word on when (or if) the next installment will arrive.
It is a running joke among ARMY that V really, really wants to be a part of the possible "Cypher Pt. 5," despite not officially being a member of the rap line. He's probably the Cyphers' biggest fan — he even covered "Cypher Pt. 3: KILLER" in a Bangtan Bomb.
A fancam is simply a recording of a K-Pop group’s performance focusing on a single member. While fancams started out as low-quality recordings taken on phones by fans, their popularity led to broadcast networks creating their own professional-quality versions.
Jimin holds the record for the most-viewed K-Pop fancam in history for his May 2018 performance of "Fake Love" on M Countdown. The fancam has over 100 million views.
The meaning behind "fansite" is all in the name: it’s a website run by fans dedicated to posting high-quality pictures or videos of an idol (usually, they're focused on one member rather than a whole group). Idols usually know about and appreciate fansites, since they're so dedicated to getting the best possible pictures of them, and attend as many events as possible to photograph them.
FESTA is the two-week period right before BTS' anniversary on June 13 every year, during which the group gifts ARMYs with new photos, behind-the-scenes dance practice videos, unreleased songs, and more. It ends with a video posted on the anniversary day, in which the members come together to answer fan questions, discuss their journey as a group, and share the love — usually over food and drinks.
BTS' FESTA 2019 celebration, for example, saw the release of a solo song by Jin, a remix of Jungkook's solo song "Euphoria," and "Bangtan Attic," in which the members sat in an attic (duh) and talked about how they've changed since their debut.
G.C.F. stands for Golden Closet Films, and it's Jungkook's baby — a series of short films and travel vlogs Jungkook films, directs, and edits all by himself.
G.C.F.'s subjects are the other members of BTS. Jungkook posts the finished products on BANGTANTV for fans’ viewing pleasure, and they provide a unique look into the members' lives through his eyes.
His first G.C.F. video, “G.C.F. in Tokyo” documented his 2017 trip to Tokyo with Jimin, and his production skills have only improved over the years. His last video, “G.C.F. in Helsinki,” was used to promote BTS’ 2020 Winter Package DVD.
Koreans use honorifics to refer to people who are older or have a higher status than them. Some honorifics you’ll often hear the members of BTS use are:
Hyung: used by men to refer to their older male friends or relatives, and translates to "older brother." This is where knowing the age order of BTS (from oldest to youngest — Jin, Suga, J-Hope, RM, Jimin, V, Jungkook) comes in handy: everyone has to use hyung with Jin because he's the oldest, and Jungkook has to use hyung with all the members because he's the youngest.
Noona: used by men to refer to a female friend or female sibling who’s older than them. Suga once iconically referred to Ellen Degeneres as Ellen Noona.
Sunbae: a term that means "senior" in Korean. Someone refers to someone else as "sunbaenim," for example, when the person attended the same school or worked at the same company before they did. For example, BTS sometimes refers to members of other K-Pop groups who debuted before them as sunbaes, just like TXT refer to members of BTS as sunbaes.
-ssi: a formal term used to refer to someone you're not very familiar with whom you need to show respect to, similar to “Mr./Mrs./Miss.”
While BTS uses the “proper” honorifics pretty consistently when they’re at events, they sometimes bend the rules when they're joking around, since they're so close. If you ever hear Jungkook call Jimin “Jimin-ssi,” only for the members to crack up laughing, it’s because he’s technically supposed to call Jimin “Jimin-hyung,” and using -ssi is not something you’d typically do with someone you’re close to who’s older in casual conversation (it’s like calling your slightly older friend Sarah “Miss Sarah” while chilling at the mall).
This acronym refers to The Most Beautiful Moment in Life, the second era in BTS' discography from 2015 to 2016. If you're looking for the Hs and Ys in there, don't bother: HYYH stands for "Hwa Yang Yeon Hwa," the Korean phrase meaning the same thing.
The HYYH era was notable for kicking off the Bangtan Universe. HYYH also saw a huge boost in popularity for BTS with the release of their song "I Need U."
A "line" is a subgroup of members based around one classifying characteristic — it is not, however, the same as a sub-unit (more on that later). A line can have as few as two members, but often has at least three. There's really no way to tell how many lines exist within a group or what all of them are, since they're constantly being created or recomposed. There are, however, a few key ones ARMYs should know:
- The rap line is RM, Suga, and J-Hope, and they do almost all of the rapping for the group (although Jungkook is a featured rapper on some of BTS’ early tracks).
- The vocal line is Jin, Jimin, V, and Jungkook, and they cover most of the singing.
- The dance line is J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook, and they’re usually the ones you see in the front during performances.
- The hyung line is Jin, Suga, J-Hope, and RM, the older members of BTS.
- The maknae line is Jimin, V, and Jungkook, the younger members.
Maknae is a Korean term used to refer to the youngest person in a group. BTS' maknae is Jungkook, who was born in 1997. He's also often called the "golden maknae," because he's good at almost everything he tries, whether it's singing, dancing, rapping, video editing, or making everyone fall in love with him.
As the maknae, Jungkook gets the privilege of being looked after and doted on by his hyungs, as he joined the group at only 15 and they watched him grow up.
21. Map of the Soul
Map of the Soul is the name of BTS’ series of albums launched in April 2019 with Map of the Soul: Persona.
The series was inspired by psychologist Carl Jung’s theory that there are a set number of pieces that make up the human psyche. Jung broke the psyche down into archetypes, the four main ones being the self, the anima/animus, the shadow, and the persona.
Fans were initially surprised the second album in the MotS series was called 7 instead of Shadow (the title ARMYs came up with based on Carl Jung’s teachings). RM would later confirm ARMYs were right about their theory at BTS’ Feb. 21 MotS: 7 press conference, explaining the boys ended up combining two albums (which were going to be called Shadow and Ego) into the one we now know as 7 after their extended vacation from August to September 2019.
A mochi is a Japanese rice cake, but within the ARMY, mochi is a popular nickname for Jimin. Fans think his cute, squishy cheeks bear some resemblance to the rice cake (see below for some adorable evidence). Mochis are also thought of as sweet delicacies, and, well, Jimin's super sweet too.
Muster is a military term meaning an assembling of troops, and though the ARMY isn’t an actual army, BTS still uses the term to refer to a series of special annual concerts meant to, well, assemble the ARMY in one place.
Muster is always fun because the members do performances they don't usually do at their regular concerts. For example, the fifth annual Muster included a role-swap performance of "Ddaeng" in which the vocal line took on rapping, an a capella version of "Autumn Leaves," and some new choreography for "Dimple."
While groups outside of K-Pop mostly shy away from giving their members official positions like “leader” or “lead singer,” in K-Pop, they’re embraced. The positions in K-Pop groups include individual ones like leader (the member who motivates the members and represents them overall) and center (the member who’s placed in the middle of the group during promotions), vocal and dance lines (broken down by skill level), and a visual line.
The word “main” denotes a group member’s skill-level in a particular line. If a member holds a “main” position, it means they exhibit the most skill and technique of all the members in the line, and usually get the most challenging parts. Whereas a “lead” role is a member who has the second-best technique and is given parts that often compliment the main members’ parts in a line.
In BTS, here’s how the members’ positions shake out:
- RM is the leader and main rapper.
- Jin is a visual and a vocalist.
- Suga is the lead rapper.
- J-Hope is a main dancer, a rapper, and a vocalist.
- Jimin is a main dancer and the lead vocalist.
- V is a lead dancer, a vocalist, and a visual.
- Jungkook is the main vocalist, a lead dancer, and the center.
When BTS visited New York City, the Empire State Building lit up purple for them. The color purple has a special significance for the group, as V explained during the group's third Muster.
"Purple is the last color of the rainbow colors," he said. "Purple means I will trust and love you for a long time."
When ARMYs or BTS say "Borahae" in Korean or "I purple you" in English, it means "I love you."
People call fangirls obsessive online all the time, but let's be real — fans are the coolest and totally necessary to make the K-pop industry (and any entertainment industry) sustainable. A sasaeng, however, is not OK, and sadly, you may see the word crop up quite a bit.
A sasaeng, in South Korean culture, is a fan that resorts to stalking, theft, harassment, and other criminal activity to get the attention of a public figure, like an idol or the star of a K-drama. There are all kinds of horror stories about sasaengs invading idols' privacy floating around, and although BTS rarely speak out publicly about it or complain, they do deal with them quite a bit. (It's worth noting, although the term "sasaeng" is unique to the Korean entertainment industry, the behavior they exhibit certainly isn't, since celebrities deal with extreme stalkers in every country.)
Selca is a Korean slang word for "self-camera," and it means exactly that: a selfie! BTS posts tons of selcas on their Twitter account, and now also on Weverse (see below).
"Ship" is short for relationship, and the concept has become something of a staple in fandom culture. If you "ship" two people, it means you love the relationship between them. A "ship" is denoted by its ship name, usually a combination of the two people's names.
While some ARMYs ship members romantically with one another despite the fact they’re not romantically involved (also a pretty common staple in fandom in feneral — not just BTS'). However, when fans use the members' ship names, it's usually in reference to their platonic friendships — and boy, are there a lot of them.
Since there are seven members in BTS, there are a total of 21 ship pairings. The fun doesn’t stop there, either, because fans also have ship names for popular trios in the group, like Jinjikook (Jin, Jimin, and Jungkook).
A sub-unit is just a smaller group of members who work on a project together within a larger one. BTS regularly splits into sub-units for songs on their albums. They’re often used as transitional performances on tour to give other members time to rest during their physically demanding concerts.
Every member of BTS participated in a sub-unit during their Map of the Soul era. Jungkook, J-Hope, and Jin collabed on “Jamais Vu” for Persona. Then 7 featured tons of sub-united: RM, J-Hope, and Suga’s “Ugh!”, Jimin, V, Jin, and Jungkook “00:00 (Zero O’Clock),” Jimin and V’s “Friends,” and RM and Suga’s “Respect.”
But BTS also break into sub-units for collabs with artists outside the group. They broke into three sub-units for their collabs with Charli XCX, Zara Larsson, and Juice WRLD on their BTS World soundtrack. Jungkook and RM worked with Steve Aoki on “Waste It On Me,” while Jungkook and Jimin dropped “Who” with Lauv.
Tannie, or Yeontan, is V's dog, who is adored by both the ARMY and the members of BTS. Seeing as the members are away from home so often, it's always an event when Tannie makes an appearance on BTS’ Twitter, or when, like in the video below, the members get to spend some quality time with Tannie.
While Tannie is not the only BTS pet, or even V's only pet, he and Jin's sugar gliders are the only pets that live in the BTS dorm. All of the members' other pets, including but not limited to Suga's family's poodle Holly and J-Hope's family's shih tzu Mickey, live with the members' families (though, many of them have made appearances on the BTS Twitter too).
31. V Live
While Western artists mainly use YouTube or Instagram to connect with their fans via livestream, idol groups almost exclusively utilize VLIVE, a South Korean streaming service. On their VLIVE channel, BTS' members do livestreams, film and post video logs, and participate in Run BTS!, their variety show, among other things.
You don't need a VLIVE account to watch their content and it's seriously a goldmine, with multiple new videos uploaded every week. VLIVE even provides English subtitles, so you don't miss a word.
Weverse is an online community for BTS and ARMYs to connect with one another. It's meant to be similar to a "fancafe," which is the same concept, but was mostly accessible to domestic fans because it was exclusively in Korean.
The difference with Weverse is it allows international fans to have the same level of access to the members as Korean ARMYs since the app is available in different languages. Also, while the group shares one Twitter account, the boys have solo accounts on Weverse, so you always know who's posting what and can watch their individual "Artist Moments."
The BTS Global Official Fanclub (BTS’ official fan community) is hosted on Weverse. For a small yearly fee (of around $30) ARMYs get premium access to even more new content from the boys like photos, merch, and pre-sale opportunities for BTS’ tours and merch.
Many of BTS' longstanding series have moved from VLIVE onto Weverse as well. Bon Voyage, RUN! Behinds, and their docuseries are now exclusively aired on the app.
BTS isn't the only group on Weverse, however; All Big Hit artists have sections on the app. Big Hit’s also opened the app up to other K-Pop groups to use, like Pledis Entertainment’s group Seventeen.
33. Weverse Shop
Weverse Shop (formerly Weply) is the official app for Big Hit artist merchandise and content. Once you make a Weverse account, you can order exclusive BTS merch or purchase their music, DVDs, or digital content on the Shop app. If any physical merchandise sells out (because of course it will), the app will actually alert you when it's restocked.
So there you have it — the vocabulary used by ARMYs is robust and complex, but it doesn't have to be inaccessible. And if there's ever a new ARMY phrase you come across that you don't understand, just ask a fellow ARMY. There's always someone willing to spread the BTS wealth.
Additional reporting by Noelle Devoe.
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