What is an incel?

Involuntary celibate

An incel is a person, typically a heterosexual male, who cannot find a romantic/sexual partner despite desiring one, and blames others for his celibacy.

The term is a portmanteau of "involuntary" and "celibate" and was created in the 1990s by a young Canadian college student named Alana. She created a site called "Alana's Involuntary Celibacy Project" that was eventually shortened as "incel."

After several years, Alana gave up the site in 2000, and it morphed into an online refuge for sexually frustrated men. Incels began venting their grievances on the site, and it spread to other online forums, like Reddit. The complaining often devolved into misogynistic, racist, resentful, and self-pitying rants that reflect a sense of entitlement to sex that others are not giving them.

A key characteristic of an incel is viewing other people as the problem instead of looking inward for why he cannot find a romantic partner. This online subculture eventually morphed into the alt-right movement (far-right and white nationalism) in the 2010s as a way to combat feminism and the advancement of BIPOC.

Unfortunately, some incels take their frustrations online to real life and commit acts of violence against others, typically women. Some nations have even classified these acts as terrorism.


Chad is an incel, often devolving into a puddle of misogynistic self-pity
Yeah, I feel bad for the women that swipe right on him
An incel meme
An incel meme

Related Slang


Updated January 21, 2021

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