Terms & Definitions by Sonne

  • By: Sonne
  • Written: 2008/2009

These definitions are supplied for primarily educational reasons for people who come across or are part of the “therianthropy community” online. They are not designed as convenient labels to be applied to a person needlessly, though they can be used of course to aid in better, quicker, and more practical communication to other people (therian or not) about therianthropy or one’s personal therianthropy. However, the definitions provided are not completely set-in-stone and are designed as simplified versions of the experience, concept, etc. they pertain to but each may encompass some things not mentioned in these definitions. There are many occurrences of people misunderstanding therianthropy terminology, so resources with definitions of that terminology need to be available somewhere online rather than terms being left as too highly self-defined and thus hindering the benefits of having them as terms.

Cladotherianthropy: A term coined to describe a broader kind of theriotype that is not species specific. It denotes therians who have a theriotype that is not one species but encompasses a broader spectrum of related animals. Some consider it to refer to having an entire genus as a theriotype, however, there are many animals that have only one identified species under a genus, and thus in numerous cases it would not be appropriate to denote oneself as a cladotherian with a theriotype that is of a genus with a single species. However, this may lead some to argue that because their theriotype’s genus has, for example, two or three species within it they must be a cladotherian because their theriotype encompasses that whole genus. There can also be the concern as to how broadly of a theriotype the term applies to, in which during the origin of the term it was applied to a therian with an entire class (Reptilia) as the theriotype as well as ones which have theriotypes fitting suborders. Another example is it can also be used well in describing a single theriotype that encompasses many animal species of the same taxonomic family (or class, order, etc.) without necessarily including all species within that family (such as many feline species, yet not every species of feline).

Exactly where the lines are or should be drawn regarding uses of the term cladotherianthropy is unclear, especially since it is a term that has always been used rarely, and around the time it was coined only few people felt the term properly fit them, and since then it has grown widely out of usage. Something else that is clear about the term is that cladotherianthropy should not be applied to indicate someone who is unsure of their theriotype’s specific species but are still searching for that species-specification. Instead it is intended for application to those therians who have theriotypes which actually are broader than an exact species, in that the cladotherian is not “still searching” for their theriotype’s species but that they have already found the conclusion of “it is not a specific species”. As also, cladotherianthropy should not be confused with having multiple theriotypes (although a person could be a cladotherian and have another one or more theriotypes), because the breadth of the cladotherian’s therianthropy is not a matter of having a large number of separate, single related species as theriotypes. But instead the cladotherianthropic theriotype is itself so broad and non-specific that it includes or encompasses many related animal species without actually being separately those species as theriotypes.

Contherianthropy: This term was defined initially by Lion Templin in 1997 with his essays on the subject, and the word derived from the Latin “constans” meaning unchanging/constant. It came about in controversy at the time from people in the community claiming that it was mandatory for therians to shift, but Lion Templin’s term of contherianthropy brought about a concept that was new and is now widely accepted in the therian community.

That concept is that a therian can be so integrated with his/her ‘animal aspect’ (regardless of the number of “theriotypes”, per se) that the therian does not shift, instead they remain in a “constant” humanimal mindset. And thus contherians are also recognized by the consequential effect of that full mental integration: they do not mental shift (to their ‘animal aspect’, for lack of there being anything to “shift into”). However, contherians have too often been defined by their lack of shifts rather than by their full humanimal integration that causes an incapacity for therianthropic mental shifts (this may also, in some or all cases, extend to phantom shifts with the animal phantom sensations, if any, remaining constant instead of temporary and shifting).

There is, though, a lot of confusion, misuse, and some controversy over the exact definition of this term as applied to an individual’s therianthropy, which should be kept in mind if used to describe one’s personal therianthropy. The definition of a “mental shift” is not well defined, regardless of what definition I have come across, and thus it’s difficult to define what constitutes (in experience beyond words) what is not mental shifting. I won’t be the one to make that call for individuals.
Otherkin: There are two main definitions of this term, and both are provided here so as to denote the prevalence of both definitions being used often.  One definition is that otherkin is a general, overarching term for those people who feel they are in part or whole [non-physically] non-human, with one or more non-human otherkin types/aspects (also known as a ‘kintype); this is a category that therians are a subsection of, but it also includes a variety of other non-human creatures, including but not limited to mythical creatures.  The other definition is the same except that it is not as generalized of a category and instead only denotes the creatures that are mythical, fantastical, or non-Earth animals.
Phenotype: This term is still in usage by some therians online, as is “wereside”. Phenotype helped move more therians away from the wereside terminology, but the term was eventually decided to be changed into theriotype (or therioside) in order to get away from the misnomer of a phenotype being a biological term about the observable expression of a genetic trait. Theriotype was decided over phenotype because of this on the account that phenotype gives the implication that a therian’s “animal sides/types” are expressed physically in one’s body (in ways beyond behavior and instead with physical appearance, forms, organs, etc. being abnormally like that of the person’s animal-type, rather than human). The continued usage of the term phenotype for a theriotype is not forbidden in general but it is largely unpreferred, as also is the term wereside.

Polywere: A therianthrope who has more than one theriotype/therioside. Some therians dislike this particular term and will use “polytherian” instead or may avoid using either term altogether. It should not be confused with a polymorph/polyshifter (a type of otherkin which, simplistically-speaking, is a ‘kin-type that shifts between many, many types of creatures, organisms, or sometimes non-living things).

Suntherianthropy: This is a term defined by a single therian to describe his type of therianthropy, though it can and has been appropriately applied to other therians. It is pronounced “soon-therian” and derived from the Greek word “sun” meaning ‘with’, and used to indicate ‘with animal’ as the term suntherian. There’s also a syntherian variation used sometimes because of the two prefixes having the same meaning, though the creator of the term preferred the pronunciation of suntherian (many people, however, prefer the syntherian variation because of the more appropriate prefix). WordWolf, the creator of this term, defined it in 2005 as:

“This is similar to contherianthropy. In fact, it is what is USUALLY meant by contherianthropy.

A SUNTHERIAN is a therian whose therioside (primary or sole therioside) is integrated into his baseline personality.

HOWEVER, that integration does not prevent him/her from having minor fluctuations of mood that feel slightly more animal, or slightly less animal. He/she can feel them both at the same time, human and animal. He/she can NOT m-shift into his/her base theriotype (whether primary or sole.)”

The extent of this term’s definition is not well defined, and as with contherianthropy, deciding what does and does not constitute a mental shift is too subjective of an answer to be written here in a clear, concise definition.

Therianthropy: The state of being a person who is, feels, or believes he/she is in part or whole (non-physically) one or more non-human animals on an integral, personal level.

Wereside: Used as synonymous to “phenotype” or “therioside/theriotype”.