As I stated in part one of the BDSM terms, there are times when the words we have access to fail to do justice to what we are trying to describe. Sometimes the metrics we have in place are not very accurate or reflective of how things are. 

It is important that we honor and validate different sexual expressions, frameworks, and ways of being.

Disclaimer:

I am not endorsing any BDSM, kink, fetish, or lifestyle. It is a highly personal decision. These decisions should be formed only after considerable thought and care, as well as after successful, open communication with any other person who may become involved in the practice. When you are considering implementing any aspect of BDSM, consider any health issues or risks that may be associated with the activities/lifestyle you are exploring and seek out relevant, accurate information before beginning.

This article is simply a collection of BDSM-related terms to share. This body of work was not written to endorse participation in any BDSM lifestyle, kink, or practice.

Participate at your own risk. 

Furthermore, all of the terms listed refer to legitimate BDSM practices that occur between consenting adults without the use of force, coercion, or manipulation. However, distinctions may be made between terms that are often misconstrued or confused with valid BDSM activities for the sake of providing nuanced, informative research. 

bdsm-terms

Part Two…ABCs of BDSM Terms

 

Masochism: Masochism refers to the sexual and/or psychological enjoyment of intense sensation Not all masochists enjoy the same sensations or activities. Therefore there can be variations between masochistic practices.

Mistress: There is a selection of terms submissives may employ when addressing their dominant(s). Mistress is one such example. Submissives may also decide upon unique titles (Goddess Divine; Queen of Nightshade, etc.)

Middle: Like littles, middles are submissive CGL roleplayers, but middles often roleplay at slightly older ages.

Mommy: Mommy is a word submissives may use to address their dominant. This can happen in sexual or nonsexual roleplay (i.e. age play and the CGL dynamic) (Seif, 2021)

Munch: A munch is an informal gathering where those interested in BDSM lifestyles and dynamics may meet with other community members. Munches occur in public settings such as restaurants and parks. These gatherings are intended to be non-threatening, laid-back meetings where people can mingle in a safe environment. Behavior at a munch may determine whether or not an individual is invited to other gatherings and private events (Thorne, 2015).

Mummification: An extreme form of bondage and definitely not a beginner-friendly practice, mummification involves the full-body coverage and restraint of an individual. This may be accomplished with cloth, duct tape, or plastic wrap, to name a few options. It is not unusual to use a combination of materials in order to protect the participant’s skin and perhaps minimize unwanted discomfort (Mummification Bondage Position, 2022).

Mummification is not recommended for the newly initiated. Being completely restrained limits the person’s ability to communicate, which means that those who engage in mummification need to be completely sure about boundaries and limits and have a way of determining when the activity should be halted completely. Full-bodied restraint may lead to feelings of claustrophobia or general panic/fear. EMT sheers must be on-hand at all times when performing mummification. 

Mutual Masturbation: While mutual masturbation does not necessarily have to be part of the BDSM lifestyle/practice, it has been included in this reference guide in an attempt to provide in-depth information surrounding variations in sexual expression. Mutual masturbation is when individuals manually stimulate one another.

This activity seems to be collectively associated almost exclusively, with young adolescent couples, but it can be a fun sexual activity even for the most seasoned sexual beings. Stimulating one another can be a way for partners to explore each other’s bodies and facilitate heightened sexual excitement.

 

bdsm-terms

Nipple Play: Play involving the stimulation of a person’s nipples, with implements or without. Popular tools to use for nipple play include nipple clamps and balms and salves that can produce sensation, such as wintergreen oil.

Open Relationship: A relationship where individuals are free to pursue other partners (Peter, 2019).

Orgasm Denial: Orgasm denial is largely a sadomasochistic practice where the dominant dictates when the submissive may achieve climax, but it can occur outside BDSM. While orgasm denial seems quite similar to edging, which is explained earlier in the article, the goals behind these practices differ (Hsieh, 2018).

Edging will eventually result in an achieved orgasm, but orgasm denial does not necessarily include climax. For example, a dominant may instruct a consenting submissive that they are not allowed to climax during this particular scene at all. This would be classified solely as orgasm denial, and not edging. Conversely, practitioners may have the intention of allowing submissives to achieve heightened orgasms while practicing orgasm denial, but this is not always the case.

Paddle: A paddle is a tool BDSM dominants may use on their submissives in order to discipline them and illustrate their authority as doms. There are wooden and leather paddles that offer different sensations.

Pegging: Typically refers to a woman wearing a strap-on in order to penetrate a man’s anus; however, all genders may use strap-ons and receive anal stimulation. Pegging is sometimes frowned upon or stigmatized by those who believe pegging is a homoerotic act and that participation and enjoyment of the activity are inherently wrong.

Personal Responsibility Informed Consent Kink (PRICK): The idea that individuals who wish to participate in kink (or who are currently engaging in kink-related activities) do so conscientiously, that they are fully informed when they make decisions, and that they are expected to take personal responsibility for their actions (Edwards, 2022).

Petplay: Petplay is a BDSM dynamic/lifestyle similar to CGL, where one individual roleplays as the dominant, or owner in this case, and the other individual(s) is/are submissives or pets. Petplay can include the roleplaying of virtually any animal. Common examples include cats, dogs, horses, rabbits, and piglets. Petplayers do not necessarily have to subscribe to one single pet. They may instead choose to roleplay a variety of animals depending on their subspace.

Play: A blanket word that describes various BDSM acts, such as age play, chemical play, etc. (Rodman, 2022).

Play Date: Play dates are when littles or middles meet up and engage in littlespace activities together. These meetings are generally non-sexual in nature, allowing littles to meet others with similar interests and identities.

Pleasure Positivity: A term created to help increase positive feelings surrounding pleasure and simultaneously mitigate the risk of developing negative emotions, like shame and embarrassment, regarding one’s pleasure or sexuality (Edwards, 2022). Pleasure positivity is closely related to sex positivity.

Polyamory (poly): Not all BDSM practitioners are polyamorous and not all polyamorous individuals are interested in BDSM lifestyle or kink, but in the interest of demonstrating the vast variability in sexual expression, the term has been added here. Polyamory is when individuals who are in a relationship together, consent to their partners having multiple romantic and/or sexual relationships. Polyamory is often confused with swinging and with open relationships, but many concede that these terms are not equivalent (Peter, 2019).

Queening: When a woman dom sits on their submissive’s face and receives oral stimulation from the submissive (anal or vaginal).

Rigger: A rigger is an individual who ties others up in rope. Within the art of rope bondage, there are several kinds of rope styles, including the hog tie mentioned above. Riggers are usually dominants and those who are tied up are usually submissives (Rigger definition, 2021).

Many experienced riggers hold workshops where other rope enthusiasts can learn how to tie different ropes. Solo practitioners, in addition to riggers in training, and their subs may also attend. This includes unowned submissives (subs who do not currently have a dominant) who want to self-tie.

Rimming: Oral stimulation of a person’s anus.

Role Play: Role playing is an act of imagination where participants take on characters or “roles.” Role-playing dynamics in BDSM include CGL, petplay, and dollification.

Rope Bunny: Submissives who engage in rope bondage are often referred to as “rope bunnies.”

bdsm-terms

Sadism: Sadism is the psychological and/or sexual pleasure derived from delivering intense sensations to another person. Satisfaction can also be achieved through humiliation. This definition only refers to ethically consented sadomasochistic activities between adult practitioners of BDSM.

Safe, Sane, and Consensual (SSC): A phrase commonly used in BDSM to clarify for both new and old members that true BDSM and kink activities are founded on ongoing mutual communication, respect for one another, safety, and ethical practices. SSC reminds practitioners that activities are meant to bring happiness and fulfillment to participants (Rodman, 2022). It is similar to a non-maleficence frame of thought.

Safe Word: Having a safe word is a popular safety precaution in the BDSM community. Safe words communicate how people are feeling during an active scene and are meant to help prevent and manage risk. Practitioners choose simple, easy-to-remember safe words, like “pineapple.” While safe words are usually just a single word, having a tiered system can increase communication efficiency. The red-light-green-light system is one of the most widely used. Individuals use red, green, and yellow, the colors used in traffic lights, to communicate their current safety levels and comfortability in a scene.

Telling a partner “green light,” indicates that a person feels safe and is prepared to proceed. “Yellow light” indicates that the individual needs a slower pace and may choose later to change activities if they feel so inclined. Lastly, “red light” communicates that whatever activity is currently happening must be immediately stopped.

Scene: Refers to the actual time in which the BDSM activities occur. Scenes can take place in a variety of settings such as a dungeon or a person’s home. In order to ensure the safety of all participants, scenes come with agreed-upon rules that help regulate behavior and etiquette during the event. It is expected that all participants strictly stay to what was agreed upon in the scene and that they do not deviate from these agreed parameters.

Failure to follow regulations can result in removal from the dungeon/meeting place and even removal from that particular group. Scenes do not have to finish to completion, however. A scene can end at any time and for any reason (Rodman, 2022).

Service-Oriented: A term used to describe individuals who find great joy and fulfillment in serving others. These services may or may not be sexual in nature and do not always happen in the context of kink (Rodman, 2022). A service-oriented individual can identify as a dom, switch, or sub.

Session: Similar to a scene, but is often more laid-back in nature (Rodman, 2022).

Sex Magick: Sex magick is not necessarily a kink practice, but in any case, sex magick refers to the practice of directing one’s sexual energy and/or orgasm in a ritualistic manner. Performing sex magick is often very intentional and specific in order to help manifest a goal or desire into existence. Sex magick is in large part a sexual meditation and can be practiced with partners or alone.

Sex Positivity: Sex positivity is a framework that encourages positivity surrounding sexual expression and identity (Seif, 2022).

Shibari: A Japanese form of rope bondage characterized by stylistic, detailed rope work.

Submission: BDSM lifestyles very often include power dynamics where one individual is the dominant party, and the other person(s) roleplays as a submissive. Submission is the practice of offering up authority to a dominant.

While this is submission at its baseline, many practitioners argue that it is the submissive who truly holds power because it is they who detail what the limits are and to what extent a dominant yields power (sexually, physically, financially). Ultimately submission and domination work hand in hand with all parties continually communicating with one another.

Subspace: A particular frame of mind that allows an individual to enter into their submissive mindset, allowing for conscientious participation in a roleplaying scene, whether it is sexual or nonsexual in nature. (ex: littlespace)

Suspension: Suspension is an extreme form of bondage where a person is suspended in the air by straps, cords, or ropes. Like many other practices mentioned in this guide, suspension is not a beginner practice and does carry risks. Beginners interested in suspension should consider attending workshops with experienced, reputable practitioners before attempting anything on their own. 

Switch: While many discussions on BDSM focus solely on identifying as a dominant versus a submissive, like many other identities (sexual identity and gender identity, for example, BDSM identity can lie on a spectrum).

Switches are members who identify as both dominant and submissive. Switches may have multiple BDSM relationship configurations where they can explore different sides to their identities as switches. Such as being a dom in one context with these specific individuals, while practicing as a sub in a different setting with other practitioners. It is also not unusual for two switches to be in a relationship. Many helpful BDSM bloggers discuss switch-switch couples and offer advice on how to navigate these expressions.

Tantric Sex: Tantric sex focuses less on orgasm completion and more on the sensory and erotic aspects of sexuality. Tantra allows individuals to reexperience their bodies as well as their sensuality in a new, reinvigorated light. Tantric practices teach individuals to be more present; bringing increased awareness to what is happening outside the body, directly in the environment, in addition to what is occurring internally, such as in the individual’s emotional states and in their cognitions or evaluations.

This is often facilitated through meditative breathwork among other aids. Tantra may be recommended for a variety of concerns including premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, and intimacy strengthening. A number of practitioners attest to tantric sex’s ability to facilitate healing and personal development (Morales-Brown, 2020). While tantra is not necessarily kink per se, it seemed important to include it in this glossary.

Teledildonics: Teledildonics is a fancy term for cybersex or sexual activities and exchanges that are facilitated with the help of technology, virtual reality, and the internet (Lexico, 2022). Teledildonics has revolutionized sex technology and the sex work industry singlehandedly by allowing for increased connection between sex workers and clients, as well as increased access for individuals who are looking to examine what options are out there as a consumer of sex technology, or as a content creator.

Teledildonic sex toys can be remotely manipulated by individuals in different far-away areas thanks to the internet. This helps to provide more immersive sexual experiences. A popular teledildonic toy used in the camming industry is the Lovense Lush 3, an insertable vibrating sex toy complete with a phone application that allows for users to control the intensity and vibration patterns emitted by the toy.

Temperature Play: Temperature play is basically an activity where individuals experiment with varying temperatures and the sensations those temperatures emit. This can be accomplished with silver or glass sex toys that are naturally very cold to the touch, but it can also be done with lubricants that heat up or cool down.

Ice is one way to explore this activity without buying added gear. More advanced temperature play involves the pouring of warm candle wax onto the skin. Not all candles are safe for temperature play. Temperature play should only be done with low-temperature candles that are safe for wax play. If you are not sure if a candle is safe, ask the company or the creator. After having done this, if you are still unsure, do not use that product for wax play.

Small business kink stores on Etsy may be a safer way to source appropriate wax play candles, but as always, know the risks associated with the activities you are considering. Agreeable Agony is a star seller on Etsy that creates temp-safe candles among other kinkster staples. The company is made up of artisans who truly care about the community, who wish to bolster sex education, and who strive to consistently provide great quality products.

bdsm-terms

Unicorn: A term typically used to describe a woman who is willing and interested in a male-female threesome with an established couple. Couples who are actively looking for a third may advertise this on dating app profiles by simply including a unicorn emoji, or they may attend polyamorous socials. 

Vanilla: Vanilla is a wide term used to describe sex lifestyles or activities that are largely considered to be standard sex practices. 

Voyeurism: The enjoyment of watching other people engage in sexual activity. 

Wartenberg Wheel: A small metal tool with a pinwheel attachment on the end, which can be used for erogenous zone stimulation (Rodman, 2022). 

Waterboarding: Activities that simulate what it feels like to drown. An extreme form of breath play. 

Watersports: Scenes involving urine. (Rodman, 2022). 

Wax Play: A form of temperature play where body-safe wax is poured over one’s body. 

Worship: The act of actively adoring a partner. This can be done by doms, subs, and switches to any play partner, they can be a dom or sub.

Yuri: A genre of anime and manga that focuses on lesbian relationships and experiences. 

Yaoi: Also known as BL, or boy love, yaoi is a genre of anime and manga that depicts relationships between gay men. 

24-7’s: Individuals who engage in 24/7 dom/sub dynamics where the dominant has control over several aspects of the sub’s life. Terms and conditions for this arrangement are made beforehand and can be changed (Rodman, 2022). 

You made it to the end, there will be a test soon on all these BDSM terms, do think you’ll pass it? As long as you remember the fundamental rule consent is key without it all these options become moot.