BNF n.

someone who is extremely prominent within a particular fandom

[< Big Name Fan]

SF Fandom

  • 1948 C. Burbee Big Name Fan in Masque (#3) page image Charles Burbee

    As soon as the bomb fell, big name fan leaped to his feet…and made for the door. As he stepped out he slung over his shoulder Survival Kit BNF model 48, (his own design).

  • 1950 L. Hoffman Chaos in Quandry (#3) Oct. 5 page image

    COMING NEXT ISH: A department devoted to the BNF of tomorrow. ’Twill be the neofan of today who is the Tucker or Laney of tomorrow.

  • 1952 M. Z. Bradley Letter in Thrilling Wonder Stories Dec. 131/1 page image Marion Zimmer Bradley bibliography

    You asked us to cut our letters short, so I'll cut, but before I leave, I'd like to ask why nobody ever writes to me any more. Not just me—all BNFs have that trouble. When I was new to fandom, for every letter printed in a magazine, I would receive twenty or thirty letters from other fans. Now that I've become one of the ‘Old Guard’™ by dint of six years of diligent fanning, nobody ever writes me—nobody except old friends, that is.

  • 1953 R. Bloch How to Attend a SF Convention in Eighth Stage of Fandom (1962) 87 Robert Bloch bibliography

    Think of the fun, the glamour, the excitement! Think of rubbing elbows with the BNFs!

  • 1960 FANAC (published as PANAC for April Fool's Day) (#99 [sic]) 1 Apr. 1 page image

    Also present were such BNFs as Joe Kennedy, Art Rapp, Lee Hoffman, Lee Riddle, [etc.].

  • 1988 S. McCrumb Bimbos of Death Sun ii. 18 Sharyn McCrumb bibliography

    Monk Malone? He’s a BNF. I thought everybody had heard.


Research requirements

antedating 1948

Earliest cite

Charles Burbee, in Masque

Research History
Geri Sullivan submitted a 1959 cite from Fancyclopedia II, and subsequently submitted a 1954 cite from Walt Willis and Bob Shaw's "The Enchanted Duplicator".
Cory Panshin submitted a cite from a 1962 reprint of Robert Bloch's article "How to Attend a Science Fiction Convention or the Manly Art of Self-Defense"; we would like to verify the cite in the original 1953 publication in the fanzine "Fan Warp" #1.
Fred Galvin submitted a 1958 cite from Ralph M. Holland's "Ghu's Lexicon".
Fred Galvin submitted a 1952 cite from a letter by Marion Zimmer Bradley in Thrilling Wonder Stories.
Imran Ghory submitted a cite from a 1978 article, "Star Trek Lives: Trekker Slang" by Patricia Byrd.
Bill Mullins submitted a 1950 cite from "Chaos" by Lee Hoffman.
Leah Zeldes submitted what appears to be the coinage, by Charles Burbee in the zine Masque in 1948.

We now have enough cites for this word (unless an antedating is found) from SF fandom. We would be interested to see any citations from "mainstream" sources, or non-SF fan publications.

Last modified 2021-02-17 15:50:45
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.