A-Z of BDSM Terms: The Complete Guide

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Confused about BDSM terminology? Want to know what the difference between a freakout and a failsafe? Need to know the importance of aftercare or what irrumatio is?

BDSM, also known as Bondage and Discipline (BD), Dominance and Submission (DS), Sadism and Masochism (SM), is the perfect acronym combining overlapping abbreviations of some of the world’s best-known fetish and power play practices. It seems right then that BDSM should cover a cornucopia of other abbreviations, acronyms and specialist terms.

To avoid any confusion, we wanted to put together an ultimate guide to the most popular BDSM terms with a brief definition of each. If we’ve missed anything it, feel free to comment and we’ll be sure to add it.

A

Abrasion play: The use of something abrasive like sandpaper or a wire brush to stimulate sexual pleasure. Can leave marks and even draw blood in some cases.

Adult baby (see Age Play, Diaper Lover): Role play where one (or more) participant takes on the part of an infant or toddler.

Aftercare: An important element of post BDSM activity whereby participants wind down after a play session. Depending on the nature of the scene, aftercare can be viewed as anything from an essential component of BDSM play to a practical necessity. Aftercare ranges from simple rehydration to real intimacy with a partner.

Age play: Kinky play whereby one or more participants in a scene act and dress as though younger in age. Usually the Submissive, the age of the role can be anything from baby to older child. The nature of play is often based on a nurturing relationship but can also include sexual relations.

Age Play: Any scene which involves participants role playing with age. usually includes costume play. Image via Wikipedia.

Algolagnia: Relating to sexual gratification and pleasure that has been caused by pain, usually from stimulation via an erogenous zone.

Anal hook: A hook inserted into the anus from which the wearer may be suspended (see suspension bondage), bound or otherwise restricted.

Anal torture (see figging): Causing pain to a Submissive through anal play.

Anal training: The practice of stretching the anus over a period of time by gradually introducing increasingly larger objects. Usually training is part of a build up to anal sex or anal fisting and uses butt plugs.

Androgyny: Showing characteristics of both sexes.

Anilingus: oral sex involving the anus.

Animal play: (see fursuiting, pet play, ponygirl /boy, pup-play) Any play where one or more participant (usually the Submissive(s)) dresses and behaves like an animal. This kind of scene should not be mistaken with zoophilia or bestiality which involves sexual interaction with a real animal. Animal play may or may not involve sex and is often more based on role play featuring objectification. This kind of play can involve animal transformation fantasy where participants fully immerse themselves in the fantasy that they are a different species.

Anime (see Hentai and Manga): Japanese animated cartoon style originating from the 1960s.

Anti-humiliation or Reverse humiliation: Using emotional play to cause tears or a breakdown. The opposite of Subjecting someone to humiliation, this kind of treatment builds in intensity and consists of being, and doing things that are, exceptionally nice.

Auralism: This kink causes the Subject to become sexually excited by noises, sounds or music.

B

Bad pain (see good pain and limits): Pain that exceeds the limit of the recipient’s threshold which can result in temporary or permanent psychological or physical damage.

Bagging: Causing arousal via the use of suffocation. This is more frequently a result of placing a clear plastic bag over the recipient’s head.

Ball gag: A type of gag that uses a ball placed in the mouth to prevent the wearer from speaking or making a loud noise.

Balls Out Risky Kink: (also BORK): Used to describe kinksters that prefer play to be exceptionally risky. This differs to Edge Play where the only risks are in improper technique or mechanical failure.

Body worship: Where a Submissive shows immense respect and worship to their Dom. This can include ritualistic behaviour but is more commonly excessive licking, sucking, fondling and kissing.

Bastinado: A form of impact play whereby the soles of the feet are the target of spanking, slapping or whipping.

Beating:  Any form of impact play where a Dom uses their hands or implement (paddle, whip, crop etc) to hit their Sub.

Bestiality: Sexual intercourse between a human and an animal.

Bisexual: Someone who indulges in sexual activity (not always intercourse) with members of either sex. Some people may identify as straight/bi meaning that their preference is for the opposite sex but that they partake in activities with their own sex.

Bit (or bit gag): Used primarily in pony play, a bit gag is a kind of gag which features a solid tube mouthpiece similar to a horses bit or bridle. They are usually made from latex or soft rubber to prevent dental damage.

bit gag BDSM terms A-Z

Simulating a horse’s bit in the form of a gag, a horse bit gag can be used in pony play. Image via Wikimedia.

Black sheet party: Referring to the popular rubber sheets that are principally made in black, this is a term for any kind of BDSM party which can include some messy play (see Wet and Messy); usually some form of orgy or gangbang.

Blackbooting: A practice which utilises the heel of a shoe for anal insertion.

Bladder/bowel control: Can refer to either the practice where a Submissive is trained to perform their toilet on demand, usually whilst being fondled by the Dominant. It can also be used when Subs are expected to ask permission from their Dom before they use the toilet.

Blood play: (see cutting): Any kind of play where blood is intentionally drawn from a recipient.

Body modification: This can relate to any number of changes adopted by a participant in BDSM play and can be something as simple as tattoos, piercings and breast enhancement to scarring, Subdermal implants and branding. Most changes are permanent or semi-permanent.

Bondage (mental or psychological): The act of restraint simply by obeying orders. For example, squatting in position until ‘released’ by a Dominant.

Bondage (physical): Any act which includes the restraint of a partner as part of sexual play. It can refer to full body restraint or just one area of the body such as genital bondage (also known as chastity).

bondage art: binding the bottom in a way which is aesthetically pleasing. Often for photography.

Bondage & Discipline (BD or B&D): A part of the multiple acronym BDSM. Refers to the primarily physical aspect of BDSM; that of restraint and of physical play.

Bondage belt: A specific belt used to physically restrain someone during bondage play. Straps usually have metal D rings to attach to anchor points or other equipment, they are generally made from leather.

Bondage suit: A specially designed suit more commonly made from leather, a bondage suit offers a snug fit for the wearer and can be used for mummification or easily attaching to equipment such as suspension furniture.

Boot worship: Any form of play where excessive respect (or worship) is shown for the footwear of a Dominant player. This can be ritualistic in nature but may simply be cleaning or polishing or, more commonly, with adoration in the form of kissing, sucking, fondling and licking

Bootblack: Similar to boot worship but more specifically used as part of a military style scene, a bootblack is someone who shines or polishes a pair of boots.

Bottom: Another name for a Sub. See top and middle.

Bowcatting (see cunnilingus): The act of giving oral sex to a woman.

Branding: using a heated object to scar the skin of a Submissive, branding is a way to mark an ‘object’s’ ownership and can be part of a ritual or simply be a form of objectification. Brands can be permanent or semi-permanent.

Brat: Submissive role players are known for their obedience but a brat is most often disrespectful and less cooperative. Not normally a desired quality in a Sub, some ‘brattishness’ is welcomed in the relationship with some Subs and may form part of the exchange of power or discipline in their scenes (see Topping from the bottom)

Breast bondage: Any physical restraint of the breasts (most commonly female but can also refer to male breast tissue) including clamping to the chest, wrapping of the tissue to form bulges or the use of nipple clamps.

Breath control, breath play:  Play which involves the control of a person’s ability to breathe, usually around the time of climax. Whilst this can cover simple HOM (hand over mouth) this kind of control can be very dangerous and extends to the use of physical choking or bagging.

Breeding: Referring to unprotected sex where a male partner ejaculates inside either the anus or vagina. Though it references pregnancy, the term can be used to describe the same act when ejaculate is released inside a man or from a squirting dildo.

Brown shower (see scat and Wet and Messy): Any play which involves a participant defecating on another person.

Bull: An Alpha Male, normally well-endowed and used to refer to a man who has sex with the partner of a cuckold.

Bullwhip: A single lash whip (see singletail) which has a heavy braided or woven leather lash and a sturdy handle. Bullwhips are normally quite long and the lash should be at least four inches in length.

Bukkake: A term used when a woman is repeatedly ejaculated on by a number of men. Japanese in origin, the word is derived from the verb, ‘to splash’.

bunny (see rope bunny): Similar in definition to a ‘guinea pig’, a bunny is someone who trials something before use, usually for demonstration purposes.

Butt plug: A shaped object that is inserted into the anus; similar in shape to a dildo but with a larger (flared or flattened) to prevent it from slipping fully inside the anal cavity.

C

Camming: Using webcams over the internet to perform sexual activities that are enjoyed by one or more audience members. Camming can be a reciprocal activity with both parties watching the other and can include the use of remote control sexual aids.

Cane: Most commonly constructed from wood, a cane is a thin rod used in impact play for striking someone.

Cat o’ nine tails: A type of whip that has nine individual lashes, each having a knotted element. The implement originates from maritime use when offenders were flogged.

Catheter (see urethral play): A medical device usually made from soft plastic that is used to relieve the bladder when someone is incapacitated after surgery by being fed into the urethra.

CBT (Cock and Ball Torture): The practice of causing pain or constriction to the male genitals through the use of clamps, ball stretchers, electro-stimulation or wax play. The term covers a wide range of activities.

Cell popping (see body modification): A form of temporary branding, an area of the skin is temporarily Subjected to a design of dots made using a heated poker. Applied for a brief second, the dots cause a superficial burn which can last several weeks or months.

Chastity: A form of bondage whereby access to the genitals is denied to a person preventing orgasm until the Dom decides otherwise. For men, this is usually via the use of a cock cage whereas women use a chastity belt.

Chemical play: Any play which uses chemicals to induce sensations in either yourself or a partner. Substances should always be tested prior to using liberally and include products like tiger balm, herbs, spices and oils as well as rubbing alcohol and menthol.

Circle jerk: An activity where a number of men sit or stand in a circle and masturbate the person to the side of them, creating a mutual masturbation circle.

CIS gendered: An LGBTQ phrase which relates to a person whose biological gender corresponds to their gender identity; however, it has come to mean a masculine man or feminine girl when used in BDSM circles.

Clover clamp: A type of clamp, often used on the nipples but can be used on other areas of the body, which features a mechanism from which a cord or chain can be attached. Pulling on the mechanism will increase the clamp’s pressure.

clover clamp BDSM terms A-Z

Offering extensive pressure, the clover clamp is a popular form of nipple torture play. Image via Wikipedia.

Cock milking (see progasm and prostate massage): The art of forcing ejaculation through stimulation of the prostate, the subject can discharge semen without orgasming or extend orgasm if performed at the right time.

Cock ring: An O shaped device slipped around the shaft of the penis and worn at the base to maintain erection..

Collar: A symbol of ownership bestowed upon a slave or Sub by their Owner/Dom. This can be an actual collar but may extend to other forms of apparel or accessory.

Collared: Also known as being owned, someone who is Collared is considered the property of their Master or Dom.

Collaring: Usually the practice of being Collared involves some form of ritual or ceremony which can be referred to as a Collaring; used in a similar way as to describe a wedding service.

Compersion: Most easily defined as the opposite of jealousy, feelings of compersion are experience when someone you are in love or involved with receives pleasure from someone else. Can be applied to cuckolds who experience great joy from watching their partner perform sexually with someone else.

Consent: A form of permission given to an involvement in an activity. The absence of consent is considered assault.

Consensual non-consensuality: A form of BDSM play, scene or activity where consent is granted for something unknown to happen, within safely defined limits. Commonly used for rape or kidnap role play whereby some restrictions are predefined but otherwise the event is a ‘surprise’.

Consideration: Consideration is a term used when partners are deciding on a change of role in a relationship of power. This could be considering whether to accept a Collar from a Master.

Contract: Not usually a legally binding document, a contract is a written agreement between a Sub and Dom or Master and Slave outlining the details of their relationship. Sometimes this can form part of a Collaring ceremony but is often a soberly and mutually consenting document that provides some form of safety and structure to their activities.

Corporal punishment: Often relating to impact play, corporal punishment is often doled out as a form of discipline and is an activity that involves causing pain to the recipient.

Corset: A type of undergarment most typically worn by women for shaping the figure into a classic ‘hourglass’ (cinched in at the waist with the emphasis being on the hips and breasts). Sometimes worn by men to control a bulging waistline.

Costume play/Cosplay (see role play): The use of costumes such as uniforms to enhance a scene.

Cracker: A device which makes a loud cracking noise when it is attached to the end of a whip.

Creampie: Used when ejaculate can be seen dripping from either the vagina or anus.

Crop/Riding Crop: A short whip like implement with a rigid shaft and a handle with a loop to go over the wrist. The shaft should be flexible and thin and is usually made of leather.

Cuckold: Referring only to a man, a cuckold will have a partner who is ‘unfaithful’ in some form. A cuckold will invariably watch their partner as they are involved in some form of sexual activity with someone else or watch the footage. Some cuckolds are abused and/or humiliated during this activity in a Sub/Dom roleplay whilst others may take some limited part in the action.

Cuckquean: A female equivalent of a cuckold.

Cunnilingus: Going down on, eating out or performing any form oral sex on a woman.

Cupping: The activity of using suction devices, this can be done using fire and glass cups or with mechanised suction equipment.

Cutting (see blood play): Drawing blood using a sharp implement.

Cybersex/cyber (see camming): Any form of roleplay or sexual activity that is performed over text, the internet or other form of remote communication.

D

D-type: A term meaning Dominant Type, D-type can be used to describe Owners, Masters, Doms and Tops. Use S-type to describe various forms of Submissives.)

Damsel in distress/DID: Referenced from the classic arts and literature archetype of a women in need of rescue this term can be used to describe a type of scene or role play. It can also be used to describe a relationship in which a woman seeks a White Knight or protector following emotional abuse experienced in past relationships.

Diaper lover (see adult baby): A participant who enjoys age related play, specifically as an adult baby. They may or may not enjoy relieving themselves whilst wearing diapers play.

Dirty keenhole (see keenhole): The act of passing faeces through a stretched (or expansion) piercing in the earlobe.

Discipline: The act of some form of punishment when one participant fails to perform a specified task or duty.

Dollification: An extended role play where one participant is transformed into a ‘living doll’. This practice is a form of objectification though there is usually no element of humiliation involved. The transformations are mostly temporary though some permanent body modifications may form part of this particular fetish. Specialist suits can be purchased to achieve a vinyl or rubber effect to the skin whilst other traits can be achieved with make-up and clothing.

dollification BDSM terms A-Z

You can buy accessories to help dollification, including latex masks. Image via Pinterest.

Domdrop/Topdrop: Underlining the importance of aftercare for all participants this term describes the after effects of finishing a scene (particularly an intense one) for a Dominant partner. The sudden drop in adrenalin can manifest itself in a number of emotional ways including depression or anger.

Domestic: Used to describe a Sub whose duties include domestic service including household chores.

Dominant: Also known as a Dom (Male), Domme/Domina (Female), Master/Mistress or Top, a Dominant is someone who is in a position of control within a relationship.

Doormat: Another term for a Sub who is treated with objectification, often serving as a slave or domestic. A doormat usually desires to be treated as insignificant.

Dragon’s tail: A whip that is constructed of a material that furls into a hollow tube with a tapered end. The handle is usually robust and sturdy and made of wood with the triangular end of the lash, resembling a dragon’s tail, being made of suede or leather.

Dungeon: A dedicated space for BDSM play often kitted out with furniture and equipment to facilitate play. A dungeon can be any room or area and does not need to be subterranean.

Dungeon Master/Mistress: The dominant host or owner of a dungeon.

Dungeon monitor (DM): Someone who takes responsibility for the rules being adhered to in a dungeon.

Dungeon/house/party/group rules: A set of rules which govern the activities in a group, club or dungeon to which all participants agree to abide. It is these results that the dungeon monitor is policing.

E

Earplugs: Used to provide aural deprivation in sensory play and can include ear defenders or headphone style plugs.

Edge play: Used to describe any kind of play or activity that is potentially dangerous but can simply refer to the edges of any participants comfortable limits.

Edging: A technique used often by Doms on their Subs to bring them close to orgasm but denying them; usually repeated until sexual frustration is at its most intense.

Electric/electro play (also called e-stim): Any play that involves the use of an electrical current to either stimulate or punish another participant. Devices range from simple wands designed for external use or insertables, pads and stun guns, zappers and prods.

E-stim electro play BDSM terms A-Z

There are hundreds of kits to facilitate electro play from wands and pads to insertables. Image via Wikimedia.

Emotional play (see humiliation, squick): Any kind of scenario or scene which uses emotional content to induce a reaction such as fear, shame or humiliation.

Endorphin rush: A powerful chemical, endorphins are a natural compound produced by the human body in response to stress and pain. These chemicals produce a natural high although the down from such a heightened experience can be quite low and is another good reason for adequate arrangements being made for aftercare.

Erogenous zone: An area of the body through which sexual stimulation can be received most often the genitals and breasts but it varies by recipient.

Evil stick: A thin cane-like-implement that is flexible but sharp and can cause welts. Mostly made from carbon fiber, a minimal amount of force is required and proper technique is essential to minimise damage.

Exhibitionist: Someone who finds intense gratification in attracting attention using taboo means, often exposing themselves in public or behaving unexpectedly.

F

Face fucking: The act of forcing fellatio on a person either with the penis or a phallus shaped object.

Face sitting, facesitting (see queening): The act of squatting or sitting astride someone’s head to allow access for oral sex.

Failsafe (see out): A safe, prearranged escape plan that allows either party the option to bail from the scenario. It is an important part of any responsible BDSM play to have a failsafe in the event of any kind of unforeseen emergency or eventuality.

Fall: The striking end of a whip, most commonly a singletail variety.

Family/Clan/Group: A group of BDSM participants who form a relationship. The structure of a Family varies by the group and can be based around age play and form a traditional family hierarchy or simply be a selection of people who share the same living arrangements. A Family is usually headed by a Dominant party.

Fantasy rape (see rape play): A consensual scene (may be consensual non-consensual) rape scene.

Fear play (psychological play): Performed in a controlled way, this kind of play takes advantage of some form of fear that the Sub suffers from.

Feeder: Someone who takes an active role in feeding their Sub so that they gain weight.

Fellatio: Most commonly related to any form of oral sex performed on a penis but can refer to other phallic objects.

Felching: The act of sucking semen or other fluids from the anus.

FemDom: A Dominant who is female with a male Sub.

Feminization: Usually used on male Subs, feminization involves the subject being dressed up in an overly feminine using make up and clothing. See sissy.

Fetish/Paraphilia: Having a sexual interest in a part of the body that is not the genitals or by an inanimate object or activity to gain arousal.

Figging: The practice of inserting a finger into the anus that has been pre-prepared with a topical solution such as chilli to cause a burning sensation.

Financial Dominance or FinDom: A relationship where one party desires to be dominated by having a Dom take over their finances.

Fire and ice (see wax play): A type of play that alternates the sensations on an area of the body with hot wax and iced water.

Fire play: A type of edge play, fire play involves the use of flammable liquids poured onto the skin which, when ignited, cause a quick flash of fire. This kind of play can be very dangerous and should only be attempted by experienced players.

Floating/Flying (see aftercare, Subspace, endorphin high): The sensation after an intense play session often experienced by Subs but also Doms. It often occurs as a result of the release of endorphins and can be described as a natural high; also referred to as Subspace.

Flogger: An implement used in impact play, a flogger has multiple lashes (like a cat o’nine tails) Having a sturdy handle, the lashes can be made from various materials but are most commonly leather.

flogger - BDSM terms A-Z

Floggers used in impact play come in a range of sizes and materials. Image via Wikimedia.

Florentine: A technique of using a flogger, the person wields a flogger in each hands and swings them in a figure-8 before impact.

Fluid exchange: Used to describe any act where bodily fluids come into contact. Fluids include semen, saliva, blood or natural lubrication from the vagina and penis. It also includes contact with the anus.

Foot worship: Showing immense respect (or worship) for the feet of a Dom. May be ritualistic but commonly includes fondling, licking, kissing and /or licking.

Forced orgasm: Bringing someone to orgasm against their will or without prior permission.

Freakout: Occurring during a scene when one participant can become overwhelmed by some emotion such as fear or anxiety resulting in a display of intense or extreme reaction such as a panic attack or becoming ‘frozen’. Not to be underestimated, a freakout can have a psychological impact and must be treated with due care. A freakout may also result in a physical outburst that could result in injury.

Frottage: Rubbing an area of the body against another for sexual stimulation. This does not always relate to the genitals.

FtM:  Person that is born female but who identifies as male; female to male. As a transgendered person, they may have had surgery to correct their biological gender but may simply be on hormone treatments. Surgery can range from a mastectomy, hysterectomy and/or vaginectomy to the creation of a phallus or enhancement of the enlarged clitoris (grows in response to testosterone therapy).

Funishment: A form of discipline (or punishment) that is treated in a more playful way.

Fur suiting/ Fur Play: When a scene involves one or more participants accessorising or fully costuming as an animal. A full fur suit is made with faux (sometimes plush) fur however it can simply involve tails, ears or mask.

G

Gag (see ball gag): Something that is placed inside or across the mouth to prevent them from talking or making a loud noise. Some gags are designed to hold the mouth in an open position and can include an O-ring through which the penis (or other items) can be inserted.

Gates of Hell: A chastity device, similar to a cock cage, that restricts the penis from becoming engorged. Can be made of soft material like rubber but can also be made of steel.

Genitorture: Torture of the genitals.

Gimp: Can refer to someone with a physical deformity or disability or a type of body suit used in BDSM play. The suit is usually made from PVC or leather and covers the face with a variety of openings, commonly the mouth and genital areas that may be zippered.

Gimp is also used as a term to describe a form of lacing used on floggers.

Giving someone their leash: When a Dom allows a Sub freedom at a party; quite literally, handing them their own leash. It can also be used to signify the start or end of a Sub/Dom relationship similar to giving someone an engagement ring or, conversely, giving it back at the end of a relationship.

Glory hole: Usually found in male restrooms, a hole that has been cut out of a partition. A glory hole is used for anonymous sex (either oral or penetrative) whereby the penis is inserted into the hole.

glory hole BDSM terms A-Z

Any hole where the purpose is for inserting the penis for sexual gratification, glory holes can be in public places of fashioned into dungeon play. Image via Wikimedia.

Golden shower: The act of urinating on someone.

Good pain (see bad pain): Pain which is bearable and within the limits of the recipient.

Grandmother rule, grandmothering: A rule applied for certain spaces whereby your actions, appearance and behaviour shouldn’t shock your grandmother. Used when BDSM events are held at public places (hotels, open-air etc.).

Greek: Anal sex.

Gunplay: The use of guns/firearms in a scene. These can be fake or real.

H

Hair bondage: Restraining a participant by their hair to immobilise the head. Can also be used as a form of stimulation with hair pulling/torture.

Handkerchief codes, hanky codes: Derived from the gay scene, a code of placing handkerchiefs about your person to indicate your fetish preferences when in public. Usually worn in the back or breast pocket.

Hard limit: An absolute refusal to do something. Whilst limits can change or may be negotiated, a hard limit is usually something that does not change.

Harem: A group of Subs serving a single Dom.

Harness: A type of body suit usually made of leather straps with metal rings used in suspension or bondage. It can also be used as part of the bridle set-up in pony play.

harness BDSM terms A-Z

Any kind of restraint that is worn for suspension or that grips the body with strap like bondage. Image via Wikimedia.

Hedonism: The act of seeking pleasure or sensual indulgence.

Hentai: A subgenre of anime where the cartoons are overtly sexualised; Japanese in origin.

Heteroflexible: Similar to bisexual but someone who primarily identifies as heterosexual but who is willing to experiment with certain members of the same sex, depending on the person or occasion.

High maintenance Submissive (see Topping from the bottom and bratty): Describing a Sub who demands a lot of attention from their Dom. Their happiness is usually dependent upon being a part of a Family.

Hobble skirt: A skirt which is characterised by a very narrow cut below the knees (mid-calf) which restricts the wearers ability to walk.

Hog tie: Named after the style in which pigs (and other animals) are tied to immobilise them this bondage technique involves the hands and feet being bound together in one location. Tied at the wrists and ankles, it is common to make the tie behind the back thus allowing full frontal access to the breasts and genitals.

A bondage technique in which one or both ankles are bound to the wrists, usually behind the back.

Homoflexible: Similar to bisexual, someone who is predominantly gay but who can sometimes find the opposite attractive and may have sex with them.

Hood: A piece of clothing that entirely covers the head and face. Can be made of a range of materials and can have openings for the nose, mouth or eyes.

Horse (see furniture): An item of bondage furniture on which subjects can be bent over and restrained for a number of purposes including spanking, flogging and intercourse. The style of the horse ranges but is simply a four-legged piece of furniture with a middle section that can be mounted.

Humiliation; humiliation play (see psychological play): Humiliation can take many forms and is considered good pain psychologically. The recipient is usually subjected to some form of degradation such as punishment, teasing or objectification in front of other Doms.

I

Impact play: Any kind of play where a person is struck with an object or part of the body including spanking, flogging, whipping and caning.

impact play BDSM terms A-Z

Impact play can include various implements including canes, whips, flogs and paddles. Image via Wikimedia.

Informed consent: When consent for an act is given where participants are in full knowledge of what is involved. Subjects must be sober and capable of making such a choice.

Interrogation play: A scene which involves oral examination, usually in the form of a type of torture or as role-play.

Irrumatio:  Also known as face fucking, an activity where a man thrusts his penis inside his partners mouth. This is different to forced fellatio.

J

Japanese bondage (see shibari): A style of bondage where the pleasure is partially in the display rather than the restraint; a fancy way to bind someone.

japanese bondage

An elaborate form of rope bondage, Shibari is Japanese in origin. Image via Wikimedia.

K

Keenhole: Using an expansion piercing in the earlobe to have sex; placing the penis through this body modification.

Kidnapping play: A scene which centres on the kidnap or one person usually involving an element of bondage or restraint and where they are taken to a different (often unknown) location to conclude play; this may be consensual non consensual).

Kink: Can be interchanged with the word fetish and describes a non-standard sexual preference.

Kink friendly: A term used to describe a place, person or service that is tolerant and accepting of the BDSM lifestyle. This can be a professional counselor, doctor or even mechanic. Anyone who will maintain confidentiality in the course of facilitating and supporting your lifestyle.

L

Lactation: Human breast milk.

LDR: Long Distance Relationship.

Limits (see hard limits, soft limits): Used to describe what a person will allow during play. Hard limits indicate an absolute no-no whilst soft limits may be negotiable.

Lingam: From the Kama Sutra, a Hindu word to describe the penis with the female equivalent being yoni.

Lolita: From the book written by Vladimir Nabokov in 1955 about an underage seductress, a Lolita is someone who appears underage but is not. See age play.

lolita BDSM terms A-Z

From the film of the same name, a seductive ‘Lolita’ appears younger than their years. Image via Wikimedia.

M

Manga: A type of comic developed in Japan which can be used to depict BDSM activities. See anime and Hentai.

Masochist: A term for anyone who likes to receive pain and/or be humiliated. Their treatment may not always be part of a sexual scene. See pain slut.

Madame: A female Dom or the owner of a brothel (non-BDSM).

Merkin: A pubic wig usually used by women for play or in certain situations where ‘full nudity’ is not permitted.

Merkin BDSM terms A-Z

Used for when full nudity isn’t allowed, a pubic wig (or merkin) is an acceptable alternative. Image via Wikimedia.

Metamour: A way to describe a member of a three-way, polygamous relationship; the lover of your lover.

Middle: Used to describe someone who is neither a top or bottom. Their position in the power hierarchy can switch depending on the participants and may be considered a middle top or a middle bottom in multi-player scenes.

Munch: A BDSM meeting of a group of fetishists that is held in a vanilla location. These are usually network events or social meet-ups as opposed to play parties.

N

Needle play: Play which involves piercing undertaken with sterile needles. Usually only a temporary body modification or insertion.

Newbie: Anyone who is new to the BDSM scene.

Nipple clamps: A device used to compress the nipple. Can be adjusted to vary the pressure and come in a range of mechanisms.

Nipple noose: Similar to a nipple clamp, but made from a looped cord, like a small noose.

Nipple torture: Any kind of play where pain is delivered via the nipples including nipple clamps, needles and fire and ice”.

Nose hook: A hook which can be inserted into the nostrils to cause humiliation and discomfort. It is usually paired with some form of rig that tips the head backwards and/or upwards.

Nyotaimori: The Japanese art of serving sushi from the naked female form.

Nyotaimori BDSM terms A-Z

A sushi platter served from a naked female; Nyotaimori. Image via Wikimedia.

O

Objectification: Actions and play which treats a person in a dehumanised or objectified way.

Omnisexual: Being sexually aroused by both sexes (similar to bisexual) but not necessarily willing to explore this physically.

Orgasm control or denial: Can form part of chastity play but relates to the activity of withholding permission or engagement to facilitate someone’s orgasm.

Out: Another form of a failsafe, an out should be a safe word or safe action to indicate that the play should stop immediately. It is an important element to all BDSM play.

Over-the-knee (OTK): A traditional method for spanking someone; over-the-knee.

over the knee spanking BDSM terms A-Z

‘The Misfortunes of Colette’…over the knee spanking. Image via Wikimedia.

Owned: Another term for being collared, being owned is used to describe a Sub who is the partner of a Dom, Master or Owner.

P

Pain slut: An extreme masochist who enjoys a lot of pain. They may or may not be a Sub.

Panic attack: Occurring as a result of a freakout, a panic attack is an extreme reaction to a situation and can manifest in either a physical or emotional way.

Pansexual: A person exhibiting no limits in their preference of sexual choice of partner irrespective of gender, biological sex or activity.

Pearl necklace: Semen ejaculated onto the chest and neck area so named for the effect of drops resembling pearls.

Pegging: Using a strap-on dildo for sex, usually used in the context of a woman giving Greek to a man. It can also be used to describe the act of sitting on a ‘peg’ in anal training.

Pervert: Used by the vanilla community to describe someone whose sexual behaviour deviates from the acceptable ‘norms’; anything that isn’t ‘vanilla’.

Pervertable: Any item which can be used in a BDSM environment; commonly found household items such as spoons and spatulas used for spanking or clothes pins used as nipple clamps.

Phallic symbol: An object that resembles the shape, placement or proportions of a penis.

phallic symbol BDSM terms A-Z

The biggest phallic symbol? Washington Monument. Image via Wikimedia.

Phallus: Used to both describe the penis or a penis substitute such as an insertable

Play: The action of being involved in a BDSM session or scene.

Play collar: Different to a collar that is part of a ‘collaring’, a play collar forms part of a play session and/or event and can be a signifier of animal or pet play. It may simply indicate that a Sub is Owned for the night.

Play party: A social event or gathering where the intention is for a group play session. Play parties can be held at private houses, commercial clubs or dungeons.

Plushie: Someone who has a fetish for stuffed (including plush) animals or toys. The fetish may or may not be sexual and differs from fursuiting, though sometimes both can be of interest.

Polyamory/poly: Used to refer to non-standard relationships and living arrangements such as open marriage, group or multiple ‘marriages’. See metamour.

Polyfidelity: Usually referring to polyamorous Family, this group of people will be committed to each other within their non-standard relationship and not have any outside relationships (sexual or romantic).

Polysexual: Someone who has sex without commitment with a number of different people within a short space of time usually as part of an orgy, gangbang or group party.

POV (Point of View): Used when referring to the camera angle of a pornography movie where the audience sees what one of the main characters see. This is achieved via other actors looking directly into the camera and the shot being up close and in the action.

Power exchange: The term used to describe any relationship where one or more parties consents to another party adopting the authority. This can be agreed in the form of a contract or may extend to utter domination in all areas with a Total Power Exchange (TPE).

Predicament bondage: A kind of mental and/or physical restraint. The recipient is bound in an a difficult situation or uncomfortable predicament that they must overcome. It could also refer to a challenge for the Sub to conquer.

Primal Play: A kind of play that is often characterized by raw and/or rough sexual urges. What is stripped out of this kind of play is the external world and can include some element of animal play.

Primal predator: A Dom figure in primal play.

Primal prey: A Sub figure in primal play.

Pro-Dom/pro-Domme/pro-Sub: A professional who charges for their services as either a Dom or Sub.

Progasm/p-gasm (see cock milking, prostate massage): An orgasm that is elicited without stimulating the penis but from massaging the prostate only.

Prostate massage:( see p-gasm, cock milking): Usually done via inserting a finger or other obect into the anus to stimulate the prostate gland this can result in an progasm or even an involuntary ejaculation with no orgasm.

Protector: A name given to someone who acts as a screener for a Sub. They will interview prospective Doms to ensure that their Sub is safe within the suggested partnering. A protector wil usually remain a part of the relationship with the Dom usually being required to make contact via the protector; some consider the protector to be a type of Dom or middle Sub with others likening their role to that of an unpaid pimp.

Psycholagny: Also known as the ability to have a psychic orgasm, people who can experience this are able to orgasm without any physical contact of their genitals.

Psychological bondage (also mental bondage): Being forced to remain in a position by orders of the Dominant.

Pudenda/pudendum  Female genitalia

Punishment: A type of discipline metred out usually as part of training or to correct unwanted behaviour.

Push a limit: The practice of tentatively exploring the bundries of a Sub’s soft limits either during play or by persuasion prior to play. This can be as a kind of challenger or an encouragement to meet the Dom’s desire for new limits. See consent, hard limit, soft limit, red flags.

Q

Queening (see face sitting): The act of sitting or squatting on someone’s face to facilitate cunnilingus, anilingus or fellatio.

Queening stool/seat/bench: Any form of low furniture that has a hole in the centre under which a Sub can lie down and allow the Dom to more easily ‘queen’ them.

queening stool

Functional furniture to save your knees; a Queening Stool. Image via Silver Sex.

Quirt: A whip with a long thin handle that has two much shorter lashes (sometimes three).

R

Rack: A piece of furniture to which a person is restrained by the ankles and wrists, usually by ropes. The ropes are then tightened which stretches the body can causes pain. See Risk-Aware Consensual Kink (RACK).

Rape play (or Ravishment): A scene which includes force penetration usually as part of power play and can form part of other scenarios including kidnap. Also see takedown.

Red flags: Early warnings displayed by a prospective partner that may indicate undesirable or abusive tendencies.

Resistance play: Any play where one person is forced (by mutual consent) into an activity. This could be rape play or some forms of bondage where a struggle is involved in the scenario.

Reward (see discipline, punishment): The opposite of punishment or discipline, a reward can be an reinforcement of good behaviour. Rewards could be anything from special attention to sensual pleasure or simply a treat.

Rigger: Someone who is skilled in rope tying, specifically in bondage. See Rope Bunny.

Rimming: Using the tongue on the outside (or ring) of the anus. See anilingus.

Ring gag: A type of gag that has a ring to hold the mouth open, secured by a strap. The ring is usually made of metal and can be large enough to accommodate the penis but does not have to be.

ring gag BDSM terms A-Z

A gag incorporating a ring to hold the mouth open and easily allowing access. Image via Wikimedia.

Risk-Aware Consensual Kink (RACK): A standard of conduct for BDSM players that acknowledges risk but is still game for the activities. See Safe, Sane, Consensual (SSC)

Role play: A scene in which participants (one or more) take on an alter-ego or character and may include costume play.

Roman showers: The act of throwing up on someone as part of a fetish. See Wet and Messy play.

Rope bunny (see bunny): usually a demo model for rope work, such as shibari, Japanese rope bondage.

S

Sadism: The act of inflicting pain on others or watching others get hurt which invokes strong feelings of sexual pleasure.

Sadist: A person who enjoys sadism.

Sadomasochism: The act of both enjoying sadism and masochism thus enjoying to receive and give pain.

Safe, Sane and Consensual (SSC): A means to identify certain practices in the BDSM community that ensures the play is safe and sane and mutually agreed between participants. See also Risk Aware Consensual Kink.

Safecall: Used for safety reasons usually when meeting a new partner, a safecall is made by a friend to check that a meeting has gone well and that you are safe. See also safe meeting practices.

Safe meeting practices: Used to refer to a set of basic guidelines that should be adopted when meeting a new partner or BDSM member for the first time. They include meeting in a public place, arranging a safecall and having a third party such as a protector present. They are advised in all instances whether you are a Sub or Dom and even outside of the BDSM community when meeting online contacts for the first time.

Safeword, safety word, safe signal (see “out”): An essential element of all BDSM play is a prearranged signal or word that can be used by any player in a scene to indicate that something is wrong. These can be used to entirely stop the scene if there is an emergency or imminent danger or simply to slow the action down. It is imperative that safe words are acknowledged to ensure that trust is maintained in a relationship.

Scat play: Any kind of play that includes faeces.

Scene: Can be used to describe any period of time or session in which BDSM activities are performed but may also refer to the BDSM community as a whole. In the latter instance, the word is usually capitalized.

Scent play: Play which includes stimulating the olfactory senses such as the forced smelling of the anus, scrotum, armpits or vulva. This can be a part of humiliation play.

Self bondage: The practice of restraining oneself using bondage. This is often a form of masturbation and often includes timer mechanisms that will eventually release the restraints. Self bondage is a risky process and is considered edge play.

Sensation play: Play which is most often linked with sensory deprivation in which the received is subjected to various sensations. These can include heat/cold (see fire and ice), different levels of impact play, texture, taste, sound and light.

Sensory deprivation: The state of being denied the use of some or all of your senses including blindfolds, restraints, earplugs for the purposes of boosting and enhancing other senses.

Sexting: Sending explicit messages and/or pictures via cell phone.

sexting BDSM terms A-Z

Any kind of explicit message sent via mobile; sexting can be SMS or image based. Image via Flickr.

Shibari: A style of bondage originating in Japan called Kinbaky which is intricate and artistic. It is exemplified by the commonly seen style of binding the genitals and breast (or compression).

Signal whip: A singletail whip that is similar to a bull whip but without a rigid handle. Usually used to control teams of dogs in sled, the signal whip has a cracker than is built into the body of the whip unlike a snake whip whose cracker is attached to the fall of the whip.

Singletail: Any whip that has just one single lash such as snake whips, signal whips and bull whips.

Sissy: A male Sub who is subjected to overt feminization and being made to dress or act like a girl.

Sjambok: Traditionally made from animal hide native to the areas of South Africa from which this heavy whip derives, the sjambok can also be made from the penis of either the rhinoceros or hippopotamus. It is usually now made using synthetic materials or other leathers and is a form of crop, whip and prod used in impact play.

Slapper: A paddle used in impact play that features two pieces of leather that slap together to create a loud sound when used. See Tawse.

Slave auction: An event where Subs are ‘sold’ to other Doms. The state of the sale is usually temporary with conditions bound to the ‘sale’.

Sleepsack: Similar in style to a body bag or sleeping bag, a sleepsack is an extreme way to confine someone. The sack can include straps and rings to add further restraint.

Smart-ass masochist (SAM); smart-ass Subbie (SAS): Usually a Sub who displays bad behaviour (see brat). This is characterised by disobedience, talking back or use of sarcasm.

Snake whip: A type of singletail whip that is long and flexible. It has a cracker attached to the fall of the whop which produced a sharp ‘crack’ when used.

Snakebite kit: A type of suctioning device using rubber bulbs, a snakepit kit can be used in sensation or torture play.

Snowballing: Swapping cum from mouth to mouth, usually during kissing.

Sockpuppet: A term used to refer to a second account or user profile set up on any kind of social networking site. Usually used to protect your ‘vanilla’ world identity

Soft limit: A limit expressed by a Sub which is open for negotiation and can be gently explored, pushed and changed over time. See hard limits.

Spanko: Someone who spanks another person.

Sploshing: The practice of using food stuffs (often an excessive amount) during play. See Wet and Messy.

Spotter: Someone who takes responsibility for the safety of a Sub during a complex or risky scene.

Squick: A term to express revulsion.

St. Andrew’s Cross: A type of furniture used in bondage that is characterised by forming an X-shape. Wrists and ankles are attached to the four points of the cross. They can be made of steel, wood or other materials but will all be equipped with attachment rings.

Stone: Someone who does not want their genitals to be touched.

Sub drop: A state which can be experienced by a Sub after an intense session of BDSM play that can make them very emotional, depressed or even angry. See Top Drop and aftercare.

Submissive: Someone who relinquishes control of some of all of their lives to a Dominant partner. May also be called a Sub, Bottom or Slave depending on the level and duration of control given up.

Subspace. The feeling of a natural high that a Sub experiences during a scene which can render them disconnected from the normal ways of experiencing time, space and even their own body. It can occur as a result of emotional or physical play that is particularly intense. See aftercare, “floating”, Sub drop.

Suspension: Play where the Sub is restrained using a body suit or ropes and the raised from the ground either partially or totally.

Bondage (usually rope) in which the Submissive’s weight is totally or partially suspended. Often considered an art form, and can take hours to construct.

Suture play: The act of using medical sutures during play. Temporary stitches are commonly made to close the labia or to attach the foreskin of the penis to the scrotum.

Swinger: A person who is in a long term relationship who swaps sex partners, usually with another couple or in a group party.

T

Takedown: A scene or play whereby the Sub is forcibly restrained, thus the subject of a ‘takedown’. The scene is usually one that contains elements of rape play or kidnap play.

Taken in hand (TIH): A term used to describe a traditional ‘Christian’ relationship between a man and a woman whereby the man takes the ‘upper hand’. All matters are deferred to the male in a throwback to the 1950s and beyond.

Tawse : Also known as a slapper with a resemblance to a slapstick (used for the sound effect it produces), a tawse is a type of paddle used for impact play which has two pieces of leather that slap together when used.

Tease and denial: The state of delaying orgasm by teasing another person and preventing them from reaching orgasm. This cycle can go on until the Top decides to end the play. See also orgasm denial.

TENS unit: An acronym used to describe a medical therapy device, a TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) machine emits electrical currents through pads applied to the skin. Can be used in electro-play.

The Next Generation (TNG): A phrase adopted in the US but which has been gaining international support in an effort to boost the numbers of 18-35 year old kinksters to the community.

Toilet play/ toilet training, toileting: The process, discipline, training or play associated with a Sub urinating or defecating. See bladder/bowel control

Top drop: The opposite sensation to the natural high felt after a session of BDSM activity, Tops can experience a drop and sharp decrease in their adrenalin and endorphins leading to negative feelings. See Sub drop, Domdrop, aftercare.

Topping from the bottom (TFTB): Any scenario or event where a Sub tries to overturn the power exchange by manipulating the Dom. Often the mark of a Brat, topping from the bottom can simply be emotional manipulation or outright disobedience.  

Torture: Pain given sadistically either emotionally or physically.

Torture play: A scene which features torture sometimes leaving temporary or even permanent scarring. The scene can focus on some element of role play such as hostage torture or cross-examination.

Total power exchange (TPE): Also referred to as 24/7, a total power exchange occurs when a Dom has high levels of control over their Subs life. Some relationships like this extend to such total domination that no limits, safewords or contracts exist.

Toy (see objectification): Used to describe a person who is treated as a plaything for someone else’s pleasure.

Training: Can refer to a kind of mentoring from an experienced member of the BDSM community or, more commonly, when a sub is disciplined or educated to perform or respond in a certain way.

Transsexual/Transgender: Someone who does not identify with their biological gender and prefers to be recognised as a member of the opposite sex. They may choose to have hormone therapy and surgery to correct this.

Transvestite: Someone who dresses as the opposite sex. Transvestism does not indicate a sexual preference or personal gender preference.

Tribadism/tribbing:  Also known as scissoring, clamming, gash mashing or touchin’ tacos, tribadism is when two females grind their vulvas together.

Triskelion: A triple spiral motif used as a universal symbol of BDSM.

triskelion BDSM terms A-Z

The universal symbol of the BDSM lifestyle; the Triskelion. Image via Wikimedia.

Troll (see wannabe): Someone who prospects online for BDSM partners using false pretences.

Twoo/twue: A term used in a derogatory way to describe those members of the BDSM community who believe that there is only one ‘true’ way of behaving in a BDSM lifestyle; a purist.

U

Unicorn:  A bisexual female who makes up a Male-Female-Female (MFF) threesome, usually joining a couple to do so.

Uniform play: Role play where participants wear costume such as medical or military uniforms.

Urethral play: Any play that involves insertion of a device into the urinary passage such as catheters or urethral sounds.

Urethral sound A metal probe or rod (sometimes plastic or silicone) inserted into the urethra during urethral play. These smooth rods come in a range of thicknesses, medically designed to expand the urethra following trauma to this area.

V

Vacuum bed: A specialist bondage device which consists of an envelope made of leather which is fixed to a supporting frame. A person lies inside the envelope from which the air is then sucked using a pump leaving them encased or ‘mummified. Breathing is facilitated using a tube.

Vampire gloves: Gloves layered with short spikes that can used in sensation play.

Vanilla: Used to describe a person, activity, place or behaviour that is not kinky or a part of the fetish/BDSM lifestyle.

Violet wand: An electrical device used to stimulate areas of the body. So-called because the discharge has a purple hue.

violet wand BDSM terms A-Z

Used for electro-play, a violet wand generates a low current, high voltage, high frequency charge. Image via Wikimedia.

Voice play: Play in which the Dom varies their volume and tone and vocabulary to induce sensations. Can be a choice of words, using a threatening tone of voice or simply whispering.

Voyeurism: The act of gaining sexual pleasure from watching someone during intimate activities. Can be innocent such as undressing or bathing and may occur with or without the consent or knowledge of the chosen party(ies).

W

Wannabe: A term used to describe someone who claims to be more experienced or more knowledgeable than they are. A derogatory word, more often used when describing Doms. Can also be used to describe trolls.

Wartenberg pinwheel: A handheld device with a short handle on the end of which is wheel that is edged with sharp pins. The wheel can be rolled across the skin in sensation play.

Waterboarding: A form of torture used in a scene whereby the recipients head is restrained and water is poured over the face. Used to simulate the sensation of drowning, waterboarding is considered a form of edge play.

Watersports: Play that involves urinating on someone. See Golden Shower.

Wax play: The use of lighted candles to drip hot wax on someone. See fire and ice.

Wet and Messy: Any form of play that involves messy activity such as watersports. See brown shower, black sheet parties and scat.

White Knight: A Dom who has a need to ‘rescue. See damsels’ in distress.

Y

Yoni: From the Kama Sutra, a Hindu word to describe the vagina with the male equivalent being lingam.

Z

Zapper: A type of electrified prod that is used to cause a mile electric shock.

Zipper: A length of cord upon which spring clamps or pegs are tied and attached to the body so that they can be removed in a zipper-like motion (either all at once in one swift movement of yanked one by one).

Zoophilia: A fetish whereby arousal is gained from being around, watching or touching animals. Fetishists can sometimes partake in a form of animal play to gain satisfaction. Zoophilia differs from bestiality which involves actual intercourse with an animal.

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