Bennifer, Brangelina and now... Traylor? Here's why we love to nickname celebrity couples.

It's no coincidence that the trend started around the same time as reality TV.

Taylor Swift attended Travis Kelce's game on Sunday. (Getty Images)
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It was only Sunday that Taylor Swift fueled rumors that she and NFL player Travis Kelce are dating by attending his latest game, even sitting with his mom. That was all it took for fans to begin coming up with a nickname for the couple, such as Swelce, Tayvis and Traylor.

It's something that's happened again and again in the past two decades or so:

  • Bennifer: Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez

  • Bennifer 2: Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner

  • Brangelina: Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie

  • Speidi: Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag

  • Jelena: Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez

  • Kimye: Kim Kardashian and Kanye West

  • Robsten: Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson

  • Tom Kat: Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes

  • Zanessa: Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens

  • TaylorSquared: Swift and Taylor Lautner

And on and on...

Bennifer happily embraces. (Getty Images)
Bennifer happily embraces. (Getty Images)

Claire Sisco King, an associate professor of communication studies and chair of cinema and media arts at Vanderbilt University, tells Yahoo Entertainment that this trend emerged around the same time as reality television.

"It kind of changed our expectations about the level of access we could expect of famous people and the level of intimacy that we expected from them," says King, author of Mapping the Stars: Celebrity, Metonymy and the Networked Politics of Identity.

At the same time, media was changing. Coverage of celebrities, whether an established media brand or a blog, had increased.

Brangelina in happier times. (Getty Images)
Brangelina in happier times. (Getty Images)

Up to that point, King says, celebrity couples had been known to give themselves portmanteaus. Think of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz naming their production company Desilu, or, even further back, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford christening their Beverly Hills estate Pickfair.

But now that we all felt like we all knew each other, the media and fans themselves assigned their own monikers to couples.

"It's a term of affection. Endearment," King says. "I imagine these kinds of nicknames as being analogous to the features you would see in some of these magazines that emerged at that time, like In Touch and Life and Style. And Us Weekly's 'Stars — They're Just Like Us,' right? So the nickname is a way to suggest a kind of imagined intimacy."

MTV reality show
MTV reality show The Hills introduced Speidi. (Getty Images)

Social media was a factor, too. People could spread information quickly and easily.

Lia Haberman, a digital media marketing expert, says social media also has played a huge role in the Swift/Kelce saga.

"Swifties are breaking this down as if they were true crime armchair detectives, scouring every detail, video and potential clue to piece together whether or not this is a real life coupling or just a budding friendship," she says. "There's also a trend on TikTok of women telling the men in their lives that Taylor put Travis on the map. The viral TikTok trend is a joke but the attention of Taylor Swift fans is no laughing matter. These are the same people who contributed to making her Eras tour the highest grossing tour ever. So within 24 hours, Travis has gained 300,000 new social followers. It's also translated into a 400 percent increase of merch sales for the Chiefs' tight end."

Haberman adds, "That's the power of online fandom."