Romance Book Terms & Abbreviations (The Ultimate List)

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BookTok and Bookstagram has made me realise that there is so many romance book terms that i’m not familiar with.

While scrolling on this bookish platforms, i’ve stumbled upon some of these terms and gathered them to curate a list of common romance novel terms and abbreviations within the romance community.

So, if you’re looking for an A-Z glossary with all the romance terms you need to know, look no further!

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Romance Novel Terms & Abbreviations To Know


Alpha Male/Hero: Hero who is dominant, has a strong personality and will go out of his way to get what he wants.

Angst: An angsty or angst-ridden book is one where the characters go through a lot of emotions (anger, heartbreak, sadness) which creates push and pull tension between two love interest.

AOC: Author of colour

AWWM: Romance between Asian woman and a white man.

Amnesia Romance: A romance trope where one of the main characters loses their memory and the other helps them gain it back.


Black Cat: When a love interest has black cat energy, it means they are unapproachable and grumpy.

BBW: Big Beautiful Woman. The heroine of the novel is curvy/plus-size.

Book Boyfriend: The boyfriend of every bookish person’s dreams. He’s attractive, smart, loyal and is everything you’d want from a partner.

Bromance: A brotherly relationship between two men. They could also be good friends and often go to each other for advice.

BIPOC: A character that is Black, Indigenous and/or a people of colour

Bodice Ripper: An attractive male love interest in historical fiction romance.

BWWM: A romance between a black woman and white man

Biker Romance: A trope where one of the main characters (majority of the times, it is the hero) ride a motorbike.

Bad Boy Romance: A romance trope where the male love interest is a bad boy.

Billionaire Romance: A romance trope where one love interest is the billionaire and the other is doing pretty average in financial means.

Brother’s Best Friend Romance: A trope where the main character is attracted to his/her’s brother’s best friend.


Clean Romance: A book that doesn’t contain intimate/steamy scenes and profanity. It is safe for those under 18 of age to read.

Close-Door Romance: A book where spicy/steamy scenes take place behind closed doors. Therefore, readers do not get to read what happens intimately between two love interests.

Cinnamon Roll: A cinnamon roll character is someone who is sweet, kind, loving and is awesome to be around.

Contemporary Romance: Romance that is set at present time, with relatable characters and situations. A romance set in this world as if it’s happening on the current date. No fantasy, paranormal or other elements.

Cowboy Romance: A romance trope that features a cowboy male main character.


Dark Romance: A romance trope where the romance can be toxic. Behaviours of a love interest might not be acceptable conventionally (eg: jealousy, controlling behavior, stalking, kidnapping)


Enemies To Lovers: A trope where two people who hate each other and eventually fall in love (aka, haters to lovers)


Friends To Lovers: A romance tropes where the main characters are friends and they eventually become lovers (common tropes are; college friends, childhood friends)

Forced Proximity: A romance trope where the main characters always have to be around each other because of their circumstances (eg: college, work, roommate)

Fake Dating: Two people get into made-believe relationship, often to mutually benefit from it.

Forbidden Romance: A romance trope where two characters are not supposed to be with each other. In some cases, it’s frown-upon and not acceptable socially.

Fantasy Romance: A romance that is set in a magical world with non-human elements.

Fae: A being that lives in the other world or fairyworld. Basically a fairy.

Fated Mates: A romance trope where the couple is destined to be together. Commonly seen in fantasy and paranormal romances.

FMC: Female main character

FF or F/F: Female female. In a romance book, the couple are both female.

Friends With Benefits (FWB): Two friends who mutually benefit from being intimate with each other without being in a committed relationship.


Grumpy-Sunshine: A romance trope where the male love interest is grumpy while the female love interest has a happy-go-lucky type of personality (see also: reversed grumpy-sunshine)

Golden Retriever: When a love interest has golden retriever energy, it means they are often happy and optimistic.


HEA: Happily ever after

HFN: Happily for now. It means an optimistic romantic conclusion but not exactly a happily ever after (not just “yet”).

Historical Fiction Romance: A romance sub-genre that is set in a historical era.

Haters To Lovers: A trope where two people who hate each other and eventually fall in love (aka, enemies to lovers)


Indie Romance Author: An author who self publishes their books.

Insta-Love: When one or both characters in a story fall hard and fast. Sometimes, it can be a love at first sight moment.

Interracial Romance: A romance trope where one of the main characters in are of a different race.


Kindle Unlimited (KU): A book borrowing subscription programme from Amazon. Your monthly subscription allows you to borrow 10 books at once from the Kindle Unlimited library.


Love Triangle: A trope where there are three characters, two falling for one love interest. It’s a monogamous way of love, where there can only be one character that eventually gets into a relationship/marriage with the other person.


Mafia Romance: Mafia romance is a type of dark romance. The male love interest is a possesive alpha male and belongs to a mafia where family loyalty means everything to them

Marriage of Convenience: A romance trope where one of the main characters has to get married to the other for both of them to mutually benefit (aka, arranged marriage trope)

MC: Main character

MMC: Male main character

MM or M/M: Male Male – a story where the couple are both male. Gay romance.

Meet Cute: A sweet and romantic way in which the couple first meet each other.


NSFW: Content that is not safe for work.

Neighbour Romance: A trope that involves a romantic relationship between two characters who live in close proximity to one another.


OTP: One True Pairing

Opposites-Attract: A trope where the love interests are polar opposites of each other.

Open Door Romance: An open door romance novel has intimate steamy scenes which go in detail about what happens in the bedroom between the characters. 


Paranormal Romance: A romance trope where one of more of the love interest are paranormal beings such as aliens, vampires, werewolves, witches and more.

Plus Size Romance: A romance trope where one of the love interest are curvy/plus size. Commonly, it is the women who is portrayed as plus size, with a male character who eventually falls in love with all her “flaws” and accepts her for who she is.

Pen-Pal Romance: A pen pal romance is when two people fall in love through the exchange of letters. 

POC: Person of colour.

POV: Point of view.

Poly: Polyamoury or polyamorous. Being with many or multiple partners at the same time.


Royal Romance: A trope where one or both characters are from royalty. Sometimes, this can be seen as a forbidden romance.

Roommate Romance: A trope where two people who live together in a room fall in love with each other

Rom-Com: A book with romantic comedy.

Reversed Grumpy-Sunshine: Grumpy sunshine trope but reversed refers to a female love interest who is grumpy, while the male love interest is the sunshine/happy one.

Reversed Harem: A romance trope featuring one woman with many male love interests.

Regency Romance: Historical fiction romance set in the regency era. Male love interests are commonly dukes, viscounts and more.


Spicy/Steamy: A book is said to be steamy or spicy when there are intimate scenes between two lovers for readers to read (see also: open door romance)

Spice Level: Spice level refers to a romance book steamy level. Spice levels are ranked from 1 to 5 (1 being the least spicy and 5 being the spiciest).

Second Chance Romance: A romance trope where the love interests get a second chance at being with each other. They most likely broke up previously or never got the chance to be together in the first place.

Science Fiction Romance: A science fiction romance. So aliens, werewolves, a story set in space etc. See also Speculative or Paranormal

Slow Burn: A story that takes a while to build up to the steaminess or big romantic payoff.

Single Parent Romance: A trope where one of the characters is a single parent (single mom/dad trope).


Trope: A trope is a plot device, motif, or theme that commonly appears in romance fiction.

Trigger Warning (TW): A list of themes/elements in a book that could be upsetting/triggering to the reader by invoking uncomfortable emotions or reminding the reader of past-traumatic experience.


Wallflower: A loner or someone who doesn’t fit in society.


YA Romance: Young Adult romance written about characters between 13 and 18 years of age.

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