Back in the mystical land of 4chan, as the show's popularity grew, fans on the site began referring to themselves as "/b/ronies" (the /b/ referring to the board) or simply "Bronies" (indicating male fans of the series).
2011 April 10, O'Sullivan, Kinley, “Confound these ponies!”, in Sonoma State Star:
Males who have begun watching the show have proudly taken up the label of "Bronies."
About a year ago, the legendary image-board 4Chan, most often recognized for its child-porn problem and for spawning the hacker group Anonymous, gave rise to another strange subset: self-proclaimed "bronies" (as in bro plus pony), young male fans of the remake of the little girl's eighties cartoon My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.
2011 June 27, Gibson, Megan, “Guess Who's A Fan? Former President Bill Clinton is a 'Brony'”, in Time:
Sure, you know Bill Clinton the former president of the United States, a Rhodes scholar and the husband to the Secretary of State, but did you know that he's also a brony?
2011 August 3, Ostroff, Joshua, “All-ages show: Hipsters love children's programming”, in National Post:
Pony's cool cred has even led to its own adult-fuelled Internet subculture — tens of thousands of pieces of fan art, chiptune songs and videos mashing up pastel Pony scenes with movie trailer audio from The Dark Knight, The Watchmen and Inglourious Basterds — and sparked a surprising male following known as "bronies."