From, the largest incel encyclopedia
(Redirected from Inceldom)
What Wikipedia thinks incels want vs. what incels actually want

Incel is a sociological term that is short for involuntary celibacy, defined in academia as a common life circumstance.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7] Specifically, incel is the life circumstance of being sexless against personal choice or conscious will.

Inceldom has been recognized as a disability by the Netherlands government[8] and by the World Health Organization.[9] Being incel is a kind of nonsexuality. While gatekeeping sometimes occurs within incel forums over who has the “right” to claim inceldom, “incels” are not a subculture, community, ideology, or social club. Most incels do not participate in the online incelosphere. Individual philosophies like pill jargon or subcultures like 4chan culture emerge on some, but not all, forums dedicated to involuntary celibates and go in and out of fashion.

The term, “incel”, is often used as an outcasting pejorative in popular culture,[10] but this site tries to use the term clinically.

Incels are the vanguard of tearing down gender roles

Etymology and coinage[edit]

Celibacy comes from Latin caelibatus “unmarried state”, but from the 1950s onward it has come to mean sexual abstinence without reference to marriage status.[11] The term involuntary celibacy has likely independently been conceived of by various writers throughout history, dating back at least to the 18th century.

For example, a French clergyman, Antoine Banier, used the term in 1739.[12] The term was later used verbatim in multiple pieces of literature prior to the internet era, most notably in the chapter called, “Creep”, in the 1975 book called, “Blueprint for a Higher Civilization”, by left-wing philosopher and avant-garde artist Henry Flynt. In it, Flynt discusses his emotional reaction to what he described as his, “involuntary celibacy”, as a young adult.[13][14]

The neoliberal feminist, “Alana”, introduced the abbreviated term “invcel” in 1997 which was later changed to “incel” at the suggestion of someone in the mailing list she created as it was easier to pronounce and did not sound as much like, “imbecile”.[15] Incel was later used in the Donnelly Study in 2001 and was first lexicographically recognized in 2018.[16]

Definition controversy[edit]

Timeframe controversy[edit]

The first academic study to define incels (the, "Donnelly Study") defined all incels as adults who fail to find a sexual partner for six months or more without choosing so. There remains disagreement about whether this definition is appropriate due to conceivable loopholes.

Incel sympathy astroturfers such as Naama Kates[17] have asserted that the standardized 6 month metric is too short, and would include too many people below a certain age. What these critics don't understand is that most teenagers are being artificially barred from sex with other teenagers by a prudish culture, and in a way that harms their mental health. Additionally, inceldom is not black and white, and exists on a spectrum, with the mildest cases of inceldom maybe not warranting, "treatment".

Homocel controversy[edit]

Good faith, explicitly stated definitions of, "incel", are few and far between outside the incelosphere. Incel denialists often argue in bad faith and say mancels could simply have gay sex and, “therefore they are volcels and incels don’t exist”. Hence, a definition in good faith would include an addition that incels are adults who overwhelmingly have difficulty creating sexual relationships with members of the sex they are sexually attracted to.

Gatekeeping among self-described incels[edit]

On incel forums, gatekeeping about who counts as “incel” is common. This is usually not due to subcultural gatekeeping, but rather because of the fact that it is impossible to know

  1. the degree to which someone wants to date
  2. if someone is honest about their sexual activity

Love-shy controversy[edit]

The only 'incel' gatekeeping that revolves around philosophy has to do with interpretations of what "involuntary" means, rather than any kind of subcultural gatekeeping.

The infighting over whether to include love-shys in incel forums mainly hinges on the meaning of the word, “involuntary”, and whether, “involuntary”, means, “against personal choice”, or, “against conscious will”. However, in different contexts, the word, “involuntary”, can mean either, and both are different experiences.

Uglycels complain that love-shys and standardcels simply lack will to find a partner. In an effort to weed out standardcels, some incel forums reject incels who have not seriously and repeatedly attempted dating. In doing so, however, they inadvertently marginalize mentalcels who aren’t standardcels, who indeed count as incel. This is the source of a lot of conflict in the incelosphere.

It is possible for a person to be both incel and love-shy, and many are to a certain degree. For instance, it is common for incels to suffer large numbers of negative courting experiences, and eventually become love-shy and unable to approach. It is also common for love-shys to become so love-shy that they simply cannot work up the courage to be within the vicinity of women. Therefore, all severe love-shys are incel.

Demographics of incels[edit]

Main article: Demographics


Less than 1% of men are asexual,[18][19] roughly 96% of single men would prefer to be in a sexual relationship,[20] and the vast majority of young adult men accept random invitations to sex.[21] Therefore, most young adult men who don’t have sex for months at a time are incel by the definition given in the Donnelly Study.

15-30% of 18-30 year old American men haven’t had sex within the last year. The same CDC report says that 10% of American men age 24 report having no sexual experience at all. In Japan, a more extreme case: 25% of men over the age of 30 are virgins.[22] It’s thus possible, then, that most 30-year old American or Japanese men have an incel male acquaintance, even if that acquaintance doesn’t personally identify as such.


Incels are politically diverse.[23] Some incels believe in personalitist-exclusive beliefs. Others believe in the purplepill, blackpill, or the redpill, while others do not subscribe to any pills, or even any philosophies. The most common shared beliefs among modern, self-identified incels is the belief that most female celibates are voluntarily so, because of the very high sex drive of young men.


Incels are also racially and ethnically diverse. Passing implications by the media that the incelosphere is mostly or almost entirely white have not found much support in actual studies and surveys. Polls of Braincels and show that whites constitute only half the forum populations, with East Asian and Indian users being over-represented among Americans (see Demographics - § Race).

Mental health[edit]

Other facts gleaned about self-surveyed users include:

  • 78% suffer from extreme sadness, anxiety, and stress.
  • 82% have considered suicide.
  • 62% have considered surgery to improve their looks.
  • 77% report being a healthy weight or underweight (only 23% report being overweight, which is far less than the general American population average).
  • 57% report receiving a medical diagnosis labeling them as non-neurotypical or as having a physical disability that impairs their normal daily functions.


Main article: Incelosphere

There is a loosely connected set of websites and forums wherein people gather to discuss being romantically unsuccessful, not all of which use incel terminology or portray themselves as “incel forums”. Those who visit these sites are affectionately referred to as cybercels or incelospherians. This network of online communities wherein people experiencing inceldom gather is sometimes called the incelosphere.

Frequenters of the incelosphere are unrepresentative of inceldom as a whole, as the vast majority of incels do not participate in these forums. For example, there are millions of American men over the age of 35 with no sexual experience, a large portion of which could be described as “involuntarily celibate”, but no incelosphere forum comes close to reaching this membership. This is for several reasons, but the largest one is probably popular portrayal of incels as extremely violent and misogynistic. The incelosphere constitutes the segment of inceldom that is sociable enough to have a proclivity for joining these online communities and choose to do so despite the strong negative sentiment against them. This also means these forums select for the portion of incels that happen to fit popular media stereotypes, and this further skews activity inside them.

Click here for a full list of active incel forums.

Life as an incel[edit]

Incel life is plagued by an unending attempt to cope with one’s sexual frustration. This frustration is exaggerated by highly sexualized social and mainstream media, causing incels to feel regret and envy about missed or unattainable opportunities for love and sex. The general public mostly favors that allosexual incels behave in a completely asexual manner, and that they suppress their sexual feelings towards others. Incels are especially discouraged from voicing their sexual concerns, expressing sexual desire, making sexual advances, or complaining about their lack of sexual success.

When pressed, some members of the public will deny to incels that sex is a need at all, despite a majority of the public rating sex the most pleasurable, joyous, and meaningful regular life experience they have.[24]

Ratings of how pleasurable and meaningful activities are, with sex being rated most highly in all categories (Grimma, Kemp & Jose, 2015)

Women find men who do not have sex less appealing as potential romantic partners or as friends.[25] Incels, regardless of whether or not they identify as such, are usually fully aware on some level that missing out on pair bonding greatly negatively affects their self esteem. There also tend to be negative symptoms, two of which are erectile dysfunction and anorgasmia according to researchers at Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute’s HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies.[26] An American Journal of Public Health study found that delayed sexual activity, “creates health risks by impeding development of the emotional, cognitive, and interpersonal skills that are crucial to satisfactory sexual functioning and general well-being.”[27]

Involuntary celibacy is often an, "invisible condition". The sociologist Denise Donnelly noted that despite there being numerous known causes of involuntary celibacy, an incel could have be seen as otherwise normal by social standards. In other words, incels are not deviants by default.[1]

Professional society deems a lack of sexual desire a medical disorder (Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder in DSM-V). At the same time, modern feminism (which is highly popular among professionals) considers acknowledging a lack of ability to achieve sex akin to a criminal deviance. People being discouraged from expressing their failure in sex seems to be a recipe for widespread psychological issues, spilling out into society at large.

Incels in the media[edit]

Journalists’ accounts of the “Incelosphere” tend to portray it as the focus for an extreme, right-wing coalition of men, members of which occasionally commit mass murder. Contrary to perceptions in the media, incels are neither a political movement nor a community/subculture, but a descriptive academic term for a gender-neutral life circumstance. Incels do not share belief systems. Any large scale activism by incels as a group would have to face the insurmountable obstacle that most incel men do not want to publicly identify as such, along with the inherent embarassment of advocating on behalf of a lowest-status group in popular culture. As such, they lack any meaningful political or social power, and aside from a few exceptions, almost all of their communities are online.

No mass murderers have been users of self-identified incel forums. Neither 4chan nor PUAhate have self-identified as incel forums, even though some incels use or used those sites.

Academic recognition[edit]

Anglo-American academia[edit]

The term incel entered academia as a sociological term describing a life circumstance after a study of members of the self-described incel mailing list Alana had on her website. This study was primarily authored by the sociologists Denise Donnelly and Elizabeth Burgess and was published in The Journal of Sex Research. It was subsequently cited in academia over a dozen times.[1] In this 2001 peer-reviewed paper studying an incel listserv and involuntary celibacy in general, an involuntary celibate was defined as someone who wishes to have sex but has not been able to find a willing partner in the past six months.

Later the term was defined as a culture-less life circumstance in a family encyclopedia[2], in University of California Press by author and sociologist Laura Carpenter[28], and in InterVarsity Press by Professor of Anthropology Jenell Williams.[29]

In 2001 Elizabeth Abbott, Dean of Women at Trinity College at University of Toronto, wrote the book, “A History of Celibacy”, which devoted a chapter to involuntary celibacy, and took it seriously as a culture-less life circumstance. The term “involuntary celibacy” was used verbatim, as well as “coerced celibacy”.[30] In the chapter, Abbott included various groups of people as involuntarily celibate, including:

  • Those in prison
  • Those without access to birth control
  • Those without the money to have a child
  • Women whose families lacked money for the dowries required by their society
  • People who would lose their jobs if they were known to be sexually active (for example, apprentices and journeymen in certain trades in Medieval Europe, or certain Western domestic servant or educator positions prior to the past century)

The term is also in peer-reviewed sociological journals to describe people in sexless marriages or other relationships who wish to be sexually active.[31][32]


Main article: Love-shy

Dr. Brian G. Gilmartin[33] was a professor of psychology at Humboldt State University and Montana State University who published two books about what he called, “love-shyness”. In 1987, he argued for love-shyness to be treated as a medical condition and for society to take it more seriously. Before his death, he used the terms “incel” and “love-shy” interchangeably as can be seen in a recovered clip from the abandoned “Incel Project” documentary.[34]

Brian’s work, although it sometimes contained pseudoscience (such as using Zodiac references as if they actually pertain to reality), was deemed valuable enough to be reviewed by contemporary psychologists in peer-reviewed academic journals at least twice. In addition, Gilmartin’s last book, The Shy Man Syndrome, had a foreword by E. Michael Gutman, President of the Florida Psychological Society 1988-1989.[35][36][37]

German studies[edit]

In 2000, Beate Küpper wrote a psychology dissertation called, “Are singles different from the others?: a comparison of singles and couples”, exploring the causes of “involuntary singles” as opposed to “voluntary singles”.[38] In 2002, she later published her work in a book under an academic publisher with the name, “Are singles different? A Comparison of Singles and Couples Series: Focal Points of Personality”.[39]

In 2004, Tectum Verlag, a German academic book publisher published Olaf Wickenhöfer’s study of “involuntary single[s]” called “Unwillingly Single: A study on the history of socialization and everyday cultural practice”, citing Donnelly, Burgess, Gilmartin, and Küpper, as well as his own study.[40]


Involuntary celibacy is not at this moment officially recognized by a major psychological or psychiatric institution as a medical or psychological disability or disorder. But involuntarily celibates who have been studied were found to be likely to have had unusual life circumstances. The Journal of Sex Research notes that celibate men are more likely to have been conceived later in their parents life than the general population and are more likely to be lower class and unemployed. The involuntarily celibate men they studied tended to work in sex-segregated jobs, had more education than involuntarily celibate women, and followed particularly masculine life trajectories to a degree that it hindered their ability to meet women. Involuntarily celibate women were also found to follow life trajectories particularly close to feminine gender roles.[1] At the end of a study documented in the Journal of Sexology and the Sexuality and Society Reader, the researchers concluded that there had not yet been enough research done on involuntary celibacy and incels to fully understand them, writing, “Until the phenomena of involuntary celibacy has been fully investigated, and the results disseminated, it will remain a taboo topic, cloaked in mystery and ignorance, and an untold number of persons will continue to suffer in silence and isolation”.[41]


There are many potential causes of inceldom. Sometimes, one or more of these causes of inceldom can be exacerbated by government or society, and cause an incel epidemic like we see today.

Causes of inceldom include:

Avoidant related[edit]

  • Fear of intimacy (termed "love-shyness" when it prevents partnership)
    • Sexual aversion / Philophilia
    • Sexual anxiety / Sex-shy / Genophobia / Sexual Anorexia
    • Gynophobia
    • Avoidant personality / avoidant attachment style
    • Literal love anxiety
      • Love anorexia (loss of love appetite due to love anxiety)
  • Love disregard
    • Anti-social personality / misanthropy
      • Love aversion
    • Love ambivalence

Rejection related[edit]

  • Sexual rejection
    • Unappealing personality for your current location
    • Unappealing looks for your current location
    • Cockblocking Societal Disorder / Clamjamming Societal Disorder
    • Lack of Free Brothels Societal Disorder
    • Lack of Sharing Basic Resources Societal Disorder
    • Lack of Females Appreciating Non-Masculine Men Societal Disorder
    • Too Much Religion Societal Disorder
  • Romantic rejection
    • Unappealing personality
    • Unappealing looks
    • Lack of Resource Distribution Societal Disorder

Pairbonding related[edit]

  • Involuntary single
  • Cuckholded
  • Grass widower

Hippie related[edit]

  • "The odd one out" (in orgies without doublestuffing)

Synonyms for incels[edit]

There are many synonyms or near-synonyms of the term incel. For the mass noun version of synonyms, click on synonyms of inceldom. For gender-specific words see mancel or femcel. Synonyms of incel include:

See also[edit]

External Links[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Donnelly, Denise; Burgess, Elisabeth; Anderson, Sally; Davis, Regina; Dillard, Joy (2001). "Involuntary Celibacy: A life course analysis". The Journal of Sex Research. 38 (2): 159–169. doi:10.1080/00224490109552083. S2CID 143447476. Archived from the original on 2019-10-02. Retrieved 2018-04-24.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Shehan, Constance L., ed (February 29, 2016). "Celibacy". The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Family Studies. 1. John Wiley & Sons. p. 238. ISBN 9780470658451.
  3. Carpenter, Laura M. (2010). "Gendered Sexuality Over the Life Course: A Conceptual Framework". Sociological Perspectives. University of California Press. 53 (2): 155–178. doi:10.1525/sop.2010.53.2.155. JSTOR 10.1525/sop.2010.53.2.155
  4. Harvey, John H.; Wenzel, Amy; Sprecher, Susan, eds. (2004). The Handbook of Sexuality in Close Relationships. Mahwah, New Jersey: Taylor & Francis. p. 900. ISBN 9781135624699. Retrieved 2015-12-30.
  5. Strong, Bryan; Cohen, Theodore (2013). The Marriage and Family Experience: Intimate Relationships in a Changing Society. Belmont, California: Cengage Learning. p. 50. ISBN 1133597467. Retrieved 2015-12-30.
  8. At Issue in the Netherlands: Is Sex for the Disabled a Right?[webarchiv]. The New York Times on August 4, 1992, archived on May 3, 2017
  9. Rebecca Perring (Oct 24, 2016): Failure to find a sexual partner is now a DISABILITY says World Health Organisation. Express
  10. The trouble with designating ‘incels’ a terror threat, Spectator on January 21, 2020 (Teaser: The last thing we need is another buzzword to vilify those we disagree with)
  11. Online Etymology Dictionary: celibacy (n.)
  24. Grimm C, Kemp S, Jose PE. 2014. Orientations to happiness and the experience of everyday activities. The Journal of Positive Psychology. 10(3): 207-218. [Abstract] [FullText]
  25. Parker J, Burkley M. 2009. Who’s chasing whom? The impact of gender and relationship status on mate poaching. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. 45(4): 1016-1019. [Abstract]
  26. Dan Childs: Losing Virginity Later Linked to Sexual Problems[webarchiv], ABC News on February 19, 2009. archieved on 22 June, 2017
  27. Gina Tron: The Cost of Losing Your Virginity Late, Vice on December 21, 2016
  28. Carpenter, Laura M. (2010). “Gendered Sexuality over the Life Course: A Conceptual Framework”. Sociological Perspectives. University of California Press. 53 (2): 155–178. “JSTOR” 10.1525/sop.2010.53.2.155
  29. Paris, Jenell Williams (2011). The End of Sexual Identity: Why Sex Is Too Important to Define Who We Are. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press. pp. 132–133. ISBN 083086850X. Retrieved 2015-12-30
  30. Book: A History of Celibacy, Elizabeth Abbot, Da Capo Press, New York, 2001, chapter: Coerced Celibacy: Involuntary Celibacy, pages:303-337, ISBN 0-306-81041-7
  31. Harvey, John H.; Wenzel, Amy; Sprecher, Susan, eds. (2004). The Handbook of Sexuality in Close Relationships. Mahwah, New Jersey: Taylor & Francis. p. 900. ISBN 978-1135624699. Retrieved 2015-12-30.
  32. Strong, Bryan; Cohen, Theodore (2013). The Marriage and Family Experience: Intimate Relationships in a Changing Society. Belmont, California: Cengage Learning. p. 50. ISBN 1133597467. Retrieved 2015-12-30.
  33. Obituary: Brian G. Gilmartin, Havre Daily News on October 21, 2016
  35. Elizabeth Rice Allgeier (1988). Book Review: "Shyness & Love: Causes, Consequences, and Treatment". Journal of Sex Research 25 (2): 309–315. doi: 10.1080/00224498809551463
  36. Jonathan M. Cheek (1989) "Contemporary Psychology": APA Review of Books, 1989, Vol 34(8), 791–792
  39. Single-Generation: Beate Küpper
  40. Single-Generation: Thema des Monats - Menschen ohne Beziehungserfahrung
  41. Donnelly, Denise; Burgess, Elisabeth; Anderson, Sally; Davis, Regina; Dillard, Joy (2001). "Involuntary Celibacy: A life course analysis". The Journal of Sex Research. 38 (2): 270. doi:10.1080/00224490109552083. S2CID 143447476. Archived from the original on 2019-10-02. Retrieved 2018-04-24.

This page borrows from Wikipedia. Borrowed material has been altered. Text is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0). Unchanged text is credited to the authors of the Wikimannia page here.

This page borrows from RationalWiki. Any text borrowed here were only revisions written by NeilTyson1fan, which were all released into the public domain on his User Page. Therefore, those revisions by him are in the public domain. For details see here.