What Is Cosplay? – Origin, Meaning & Definition

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Do you cosplay? I attend several bookish and nerdy events each year, and I always dress up in costume. But where does the strange term come from, and what does cosplay mean?

Find out the origin and definition of cosplay in my little guide. I also provide examples of how you can use the term in sentences.

Cosplay Meaning

httpsgrammarist.comnew wordscosplay

The word cosplay can be a noun, adjective, or verb often associated with the act of dressing up as a favorite character from a work of fiction, whether a film, video game, TV show, or comic book. It’s a shortened version of the term costume play.

I recently attended Halcon in Halifax, NS as a special guest, so I dressed up as a character from one of my favorite book series, A Court of Thorns and Roses. But I saw other, more intense outfits like the Mandalorian, Captain Spock, and a plethora of anime characters.

Here are some examples of cosplay as a noun in sentences.

  • Cosplay is a popular lifestyle among Asian teenagers.
  • Cosplay works by portraying any character you want.

In a noun form that functions as an adjective, we usually use cosplay before another noun. For example:

  • The cosplay competition will be held downtown this Saturday.
  • Cosplay fans are gathering this weekend to celebrate.

Cosplay can also be an intransitive verb that means to engage in cosplay. For example:

  • Ginny, Jen, and Robert are cosplaying as their favorite anime characters.
  • My daughter has been cosplaying since she was twelve.

As a transitive verb, meaning a verb with a direct object, cosplay means to dress up as a fictional character in cosplay. For example:

  • Is it common for men to cosplay other women and women to cosplay other men?
  • Laurie and Lily have been cosplaying fictional characters in science fiction. But their favorites are Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel.

Cosplaying is not only the present participle of cosplay used with helping verbs. It’s also a noun that refers to the act of cosplaying. Below is a sentence example.

  • Cosplaying is fun but expensive.

Cosplayer Meaning

A cosplayer is someone who does cosplay. In other words, this person dresses up as a character from a comic book, TV show, film, or other forms of media as a hobby. Here are some quick examples of the term cosplayer in sentences.

  • The cosplayers gathered in the town’s convention center to meet.
  • One cosplayer at the event traveled from Miami to meet her internet friends.
  • This cosplayer is dressed as his favorite fictional character from a comic book.

Cosplay Pronunciation

The correct pronunciation of cosplay is koz-play.

Origin and History of Cosplay 

Cosplay Ngram
Cosplay usage trend.

Cosplay is a combined or shortened version of the term costume play. It was coined in the 1980s but rose in popularity during the 2000s.

Cosplay can be traced back to the early 15th century when people dressed up as famous historical figures, objects, concepts, and fictional characters at carnivals. In 1877, Jules Verne also sent out around 700 invitations for a costume ball.

The culture of cosplay may also be traced to the Tokyo Culture in the 1970s. However, cosplay was yet to be the correct term for these events. It was in the 1990s, when television use became popular, that cosplay became common knowledge.

The term may have been coined at the 1st World Science Fiction Convention. There were no cosplay contests until 2005, where the first winners were Giorgia Vecchini, Francesca Dani, and Emilia Fata Livia.

Today, cosplay appearances are more common in the Japanese anime realm. But thousands of cosplayers also dress up as Western characters, such as Marvel’s WandaVision and The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, for popular kinds of cosplay events and pop culture conventions such as Comicon.

The main goal of cosplay is for the person to express themselves with costume pieces while portraying a character artistically. You can do this by being resourceful enough to copy every detail of their exact look. The creation of costumes often involves handmade gear, wigs, makeup, and more, but you also see a mixture of costumes and props. 

Larger Examples of Cosplay in Sentences

  • Instagram Cosplayer Sonia Cosplay took the opportunity to share their take on the android that took the anime world by storm, helping to create one of the most beloved live-action anime adaptations as a devoted fan base continues to cross their fingers that an Alita: Battle Angelsequel will one day arrive… (Comic Book)
  • This amazing cosplay from @calebweekss takes the red and black suit from the event and, by adding a mask, shows the potential future adaptations might find in Daredevil’s darkest moment. (Screen Rant)

Cosplay Summary

Cosplay is a popular term, especially for sci-fi and anime lovers. Remember that cosplay can be a noun, adjective, or verb. But its only meaning is the practice of wearing costumes to portray characters from fiction.