filk n.

among science fiction and fantasy fans: a type of popular music, commonly performed at fan conventions, characterized by the use of familiar or traditional songs whose lyrics have been rewritten or parodied (usually on themes drawn from science fiction or fantasy literature)

[said to have been a typographical error for folk in the unpublished essay ‘The Influence of Science Fiction on Modern American Filk Music’, by Lee Jacobs]

SF Encyclopedia


SF Fandom

  • 1953 P. Anderson Zeitschrift für Vollständigen Unsinn Winter 22

    Barbarous Allen: A Filk Song.

  • 1983 Amazing Stories Mar. 17/1 page image

    Filk can be…connected to one specific book or series, or it can be a plea for the space program or a ballad with its own science-fictional or fantastic plot or it can be a humorous jibe at the field in general.

  • 2019 A. Farkas Filk in Iowa Review (vol. 49, iss. 1) 48

    When Bill Taylor wrote the lyrics to ‘Benson, Arizona,’ in 1973, he thought he’d invented the country and western science fiction song. But actually, filk music—a combination of folk and the science fiction, fantasy, and/or horror genres—has been around since the 1950s.

Research requirements

antedating 1953

Research History
The word originated as a typographical error for 'folk', as in folk music.

Lee Gold submitted a 1983 cite from Rob Rose's "A Filker's Dictionary". Lee Gold submitted a 1955 cite from Karen Anderson's apazine "The Zed", in SAPA.

Added to the OED in March 2002. Earliest cite in the OED: 1959.

Last modified 2020-12-16 04:08:47
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.