Shipping, derived from the word relationship, is the belief that two characters, fictional or non-fictional, are (or will be, or should be) in a romantic relationship. It is considered a general term for fans’ emotional involvement with the ongoing development of romance in a work of fiction. Though technically applicable to any such involvement, it refers chiefly to various related social dynamics observable on the Internet, and is seldom used outside of that context.
Shipping can involve virtually any kind of relationship – from the well-known and established, to the ambiguous or those undergoing development, and even to the highly improbable and the blatantly impossible. People involved in shipping (called shippers) variously assert that the relationship does exist, will exist, or simply that they would like it to exist.
The activity of fans creating relationships out of some or most of the cast of characters far predates the term. Though the word “ship” evolved from “relationship”, where and when it was first used to indicate involvement with fictional romance is unclear. It is speculated, however, that the first “shipping” started with the TV show The X-Files, in which internet fans thought the two main characters, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, should be or were engaged in a romantic relationship. The term was (and still is) used frequently by fans of Pokémon, of which there are several major pairings in both the manga and anime.
The term for a fan of shipping also evolved: from relationshipper, R’shipper, ‘shipper, and finally just shipper. These terms were already established and required no explanation when posted in alt.tv newsgroups in 1996.
Thank you Wikipedia!
The term ‘ship’ can be used as a verb as well as a noun – I ship Delena works the same as I am a Delena shipper. Fans tend to make one name of two characters they want to be together. So for fans of The Vampire Diaries who want Damon and Elena together are called ‘Delena shippers’. There are also Klaroline (Klaus and Caroline), Stelena (Stefan and Elena), Bamon (Damon and Bonnie) shippers.
The trend of putting characters’ names together may have started online but in the real world of celebrity-dom it started with Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez (known as Bennifer) and culminated in Brangelina (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie).