The word furry has several meanings, dependent on the context in which it is used. Predominantly, it pertains to an interest in anthropomorphic animals and/or mythological or imaginary creatures which possess human or superhuman capabilities. The plural form of furry in all its contexts is furs or furries; the subjects of furry interest are also known as furries.
Thanks to the public eye, such as an article in Vanity Fair and the television program CSI, furries are often stereotyped as an overweight middle-aged guy with a bestiality fetish and a habit of dressing up in fursuits and "getting it on" with poor, defenseless plushies in holes they dug in the forest before eating berries, though most recognize that as somewhat of an exaggerated stereotype. Someone who says they are furry is generally expressing an interest in anthropomorphic animals and/or creatures. How deep or meaningful that interest is varies greatly from person to person. Also, the breadth of a person's interest in the fandom, and what ultimately makes them furry, is specific to each individual. Below is a list of common interests with which a fur is likely to identify. A furry may be interested in any or all of them, to any degree. Someone claiming to be furry would also be part of the furry fandom.
Interest in anthropomorphic animals and/or creatures can be as simple as the many popular furry cartoon characters, known as funny animals. These may include Bugs Bunny, Tony the Tiger, Sly Cooper, Star Fox, etc. However, someone who merely happens to like these characters is not necessarily a furry; the degree and nature of one's interest is relevant here.
Some furs believe they have a spiritual connection to a particular animal which is typically their fursona, but also may be a totem. Strong spiritual believers may often say that they are "an animal in a human body" (and in fact may identify themselves as Otherkin, Weres and/or Therians). Furry lifestylers often fall into this category.
Some furs may be interested only in the creative aspects of the furry fandom. Furry content, both online and off, is easy to obtain, and available in vast amounts, and furs produce new works regularly. Furry artwork is also done by many nonfurries as well in targeting the fandom. Others may disassociate themselves from the fandom and refer to themselves as funny animal artists. Furries may also enjoy role-playing a particular furry character or fursona, sometimes writing about this character or recording their online interactions for posterity.
A relatively common practice among furries is to dress up in a costume that is typically designed after a fursona. These "fursuits" are usually worn at conventions, and a few are even designed to accommodate sexual situations.
To some furs, the sexual attraction to anthropomorphic animals is a part of what makes them furry. This is a topic of much controversy, as it has been the subject of early media attention (such as that from Wired Magazine and Vanity Fair), and has spawned a few groups (such as the Burned Furs) with a desire to shame or suppress those who display their philias in public.
From within the fandom, anything classified as an anthropomorphic animal and/or creature could be called a furry. That could be anything from Scooby Doo to various sports mascots to Omaha the Cat Dancer. Since mainstream characters are generally not created with furries in mind, the furry context is presumed by most outsiders to not be present despite subcultural interest.
Any art showcasing anthropomorphic animals is generally considered furry artwork. Artwork that contains furries in sexual situations may be called yiff or spooge art.
Anthropomorphic creatures that are also considered to be furry include (but are not limited to): dragons and lizards (also known as "scalies"), gryphons, and taurs (centaurs being the prime example).
Julie-Shaun draws those animal-people... Is he a furry?
Julie-Does that mean he's into that weird sex stuff with costumes and animals?!
Devon- Nah, most of them dont do stuff like that...
Julie-Really, but I heard it on TV and you cant just make up stuff and put it on TV without solid facts behind it!