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I've seen the expression "best girl" being used several times, and I find it quite self-explanatory. However, some people seem to define it in slightly different ways. Here are some different definitions from one or two reddit threads:

It's when I get a boner in my heart.


Best Girl = Mai Waifu


I'm not sure if everyone thinks about it like I do, but with 'best girl' I just mean it's my favourite girl from a show.


As far as I can tell, it just means you post a hundred pictures of a pretty anime girl you're in love with. And its creepy without context. Unless its being done ironically, then its only a little creepy.

I was wondering if there's some sort of "official" definition for the expression "best girl".
Beside that, where did the expression
(or meme, I'm not sure it is considered a meme) originate from?
Is this an expression that is used in Japan too, or is it a Western thing?

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When I first sat down to investigate "best girl", I was pretty sure that this was a fairly old lexical item - not pre-internet, by any means, but probably c. 2003-04. Alas, I had fallen victim to internet time dilation yet again.

Having looked into it, I now claim that the idea of "best girl" as we now conceive of it only started to come into being quite a bit more recently - I would generously estimate c. 2010, or maybe a little bit earlier.

Of course, the idea of a "girl" being the "best" is as old as time. What we're really interested in is the idea of "best girl" as a distinct lexical item; as part of a particular grammatically-unusual construction, in which "best girl" is not accompanied by the definite article, often in a clipped utterance; as something that can be snowcloned (as it has been, to give us "worst girl" and "best boy"); as something so argot-y that it provokes confusion from people not familiar with the jargon of the internet anime subculture. In other words we're talking about things that are archetypically like "Ritsu is best girl".

I decided to take a look through the /a/ archiver - it only has posts from Feb 2008 forward (and I think its coverage is a bit spotty for 2008), but that seems to be good enough for our purposes. Why? Well, look at the search results for "is best girl" - there are about a hundred results between Feb 2008 and Jul 2010 (and thus almost certainly very few before Feb 2008), but a further 37,000 between Jul 2010 and now (Feb 2015). Some of that is certainly attributable to an increase in users on /a/ (see the bottom graph here for an idea of how much growth we're talking about - roughly a factor of three from trough to peak), but I think that far more of it has to do with the "meme" of "best girl" taking hold. (Implicit here is my claim that the idea of "best girl" as we now conceive of it is directly correlated to the usage of "best girl" without a definite article.)

Another good proxy for the memeticization of "best girl" is the growing use of "best girl thread" on /a/. Here, we see 25 posts from Feb 2008 to Apr 2011, and then a further 2800 from Apr 2011 to now (Feb 2015). Here, I think we can identify a fairly discrete changeover around mid-2011, when the phrase "best girl thread" began to sharply rise in popularity.

Beside that, where did the expression (or meme, I'm not sure it is considered a meme) originate from?

I am fairly confident that we can't pinpoint a specific origin for the term - as I mentioned above, the idea of a "girl" being the "best" is obvious and needs no explanation. The transition from discussion of "girls who are the best" to discussion of "best girls" as a crystallized notion was almost surely slow and gradual.

I should add: while I don't think we can pinpoint an origin for the term, I'm pretty sure that it was popularized on /a/ before spreading to the wider internet in the past two years or so. As the classic Human Centipede-inspired graphic suggests, a large fraction of anime-related memetic content (that isn't ganked directly from Japan) does come from 4chan.

Is this an expression that is used in Japan too, or is it a Western thing?

I'm by no means a 2ch memelord, but I don't know of any direct equivalent in Japan. Even if there is one, English "best girl" is assuredly an independent invention, and isn't inspired by the Japanese equivalent.

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'Best Girl' is usually used to refer to someone's favourite character in a series.

For example, Toshinou Kyouko is best girl in Yuru Yuri.

Generally, best girl is used to refer to a female character, but occasionally people include male characters. Take Shinji Ikari from Evangellion or Kaiki from the monogatari series.

The term comes from fans choosing their favourite choice in harem / female-dominated shows. It's hard to pinpoint when or why the term came about, but using some keywords in Google Trends, 'best girl anime' seems to become popular around 2007

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Best Girl is generally your favourite character. Your favourite pairing of characters (example: Main Character and Shy Dark-Haired secondary character) is usually referred to as an OTP, or One True Pairing.

a Waifu is a character with whom your love transcends a series. Waifu-havers proclaim that this character is their favourite out of all shows ever. [Simplistic explanation, I'm sure someone will be able to expand on it]

  • Any idea when and where the expression started being used? I'm not sure myself if this is even pinpointable, since I have no idea if this is a thing exclusive from the internet or if it was around before it. – JNat Feb 27 '15 at 13:57
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    I added in some more info, but I don't think there is a clear 'first instance' – Toshinou Kyouko Feb 27 '15 at 14:18
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    There is one example of waifu in the Denki-gai episode "is Denki Gai burning?" where the boys had to make a race with their waifus (their figurines, actually). – Mindwin Feb 27 '15 at 17:01
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Best girl is also an old 50's term used to describe your girlfriend. AE" Gee wiz Bob I was gonna ask Betty to be my best girl"

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

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    True, but that is a rather different usage of the term, and probably bears no "genealogical" relationship with the anime-fan usage of "best girl" – senshin Feb 22 '16 at 21:54

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