BDSM Terminology: The Complete Guide

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Throughout all of these articles, you will find terms like Age-play, Dominant, Bondage, discipline, Abrasion, Animal Play and more, but you may not know what they are so here is a guide to BDSM Terminology to help you navigate this ocean of kinky fun. Please keep in mind that this is just a list of terms and is in no way 100% complete as there are hundreds of terms with new ones added all the time.

  • 24/7: A relationship in which protocols are in place continuously.

A:

  • Animal Transformation Fantasy: a fantasy in which the focus is on the sub in which she/he will enter the altered mind-space of a different species, often a dog, cat, or horse.
  • Abrasion: Wearing, grinding, or rubbing away by friction.
  • Aftercare: The time after a BDSM scene or play session in which the participants calm down, discuss the previous events and their personal reactions to them, and slowly come back in touch with reality; because BDSM often involves an endorphin high and is a very intense experience, failure to engage in proper aftercare can lead to sub-drop as these endorphins return to more everyday levels. Aftercare may involve the Dominant caring for the submissive if physical pain was inflicted, such as applying baby oil to areas that were struck during play or massaging sore muscles.
  • Ageplay: A form of role-playing in which the player deliberately acts an age different from their own (usually younger) which is usually agreed upon before a scene is performed.
  • Animal Play: The sub acts and/or dresses like an animal (ex. a puppy, cat, pony, cow, etc.).
  • Auctioned off: Dominant auctions off the slave to the highest bidder (this act usually supervised and temporary).

B:

  • Bad Pain: Pain which is outside hard limits, non-mutual or non-valued, not wished for, and of limited or no value in this context. pain which is outside hard limits, non-mutual or non-valued, not wished for, and of limited or no value in this context. The terms good pain and bad pain refer to pleasant vs. unpleasant pain. As a “vanilla” example, imagine soreness after a good workout at the gym versus the pain of stubbing your toe.
  • Bastinado: The act of whipping the sub’s feet, usually the sub would be tied up in order to restrict movement as the torture is being inflicted; this act is apart of impact play.
  • BDSM: Bondage/Discipline, Dominance/Submission, Sadism/Masochism: a combined acronym often used as a catchall for anything in the kink scene.
  • Blood Choking: The act of causing someone to pass out, or begin to lose consciousness, by restricting the blood flow to their brain. Also called “choking out,” this is considered edgeplay, and is a widely debated practice in the kink community.
  • Bondage: Acts involving the physical restraint of a partner; this typically refers to total restraint, however, it can be limited to a particular body part, such as breast bondage.
  • Bottom: one who receives physical sensation from a top in a scene; the one-done-to rather than the do-er.
  • Breast Bondage: The act of tying breasts so that they are either flattened against the chest or so that they bulge.
  • Breast Torture: Torture of the female breasts.
  • Breath Control: The dominant controls the submissive’s breathing.
  • Butt Plug: Much like a dildo, but pear-shaped with a flared base. The flared base prevents the plug from being lost in the anal cavity; the pear shape helps to hold the plug in place. They come in a variety of sizes; some can vibrate. Sometimes used in Petplay, with a tail attached.

C:

  • Cane/Caning: A common BDSM toy and activity. Canes can be made from many different materials, including different woods, plastics, or any semi-flexible material. The act of caning involves striking someone with a cane, usually across broad, fleshy areas of the body (the butt, the backs of the thighs, etc). Caning is also popular across the bottoms of the feet.
  • Chastity: A form of erotic sexual denial or orgasm denial whereby a person is prevented from access to, or stimulation of, their genitals, save at the whim or choice of their partner, usually by means of a device (called a chastity belt or sometimes for men a cock cage) that prevents contact and is controlled by means of a lock by the partner.
  • Cock and Ball Torture (CBT): Torture of the male genitals for sexual gratification.
  • Collared: Submissive or slave who is owned, usually (but certainly not exclusively) in a loving intimate relationship. A dominant may have multiple persons collared. Also: a pup’s status, as differentiated from a “stray”.
  • Collaring: The formal acceptance by a dominant, of a sub’s service, or the “ownership” of a pup by a Master or Trainer. Also, the ceremony when a dominant commits to a sub (much like a wedding or other contract).
  • Consent: Mutual agreement to the terms of a scene or ongoing BDSM relationship.
  • Consensual Non-Consensuality: A mutual agreement that within defined limits, consent will be given as read without foreknowledge of the exact actions planned. As such, it is a show of trust and understanding and usually undertaken only by partners who know each other well or otherwise agree to set clear safe limits on their activities.
  • Contract: A written-out agreement between the dominant and submissive. It can be either formal or non and is usually written after much negotiation by the dominant and the sub, outlining what structure, guidelines, rules, and boundaries to the relationship are agreed upon by the two. It is not legally binding.
  • Corsetry/Tight-lacing: A fetish that explores power exchange and/or fetish through shape changing, sometimes breath-limiting corsetry.
  • Cupping: Also called “fire cupping,” it is the act of heating up glass cups with rounded backs, usually a few inches across, on the skin. As the cups cool, they create a vacuum, leaving a hickey-like bruising pattern across the skin. If done hard enough/hot enough, cupping can also break the skin.

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D:

  • Daddy Dom: is the Dominant partner in a D/s relationship
  • DM: Dungeon Monitor, a person who supervises the interactions between participants at a play party or dungeons to enforce house rules — essentially, the bouncer of a BDSM event. They sometimes also play cruise director to keep/get the party going.
  • Dominant or Dom: A person who exercises control — contrast with submissive.
  • Domme: Woman who exercises control (see also Dominatrix). Often associated with a particular brand of traditional femininity; many younger female dominants prefer to use the nongendered terms dom/dominant.
  • Drop: A feeling of deflation or slight depression that comes after a kinky scene, party, convention, or conference. Usually caused by the removal of positive stimuli and the endorphins they produce either from play or being surrounded by others within the kinky community. Can happen to kinksters of any role.
  • D/s: Dominance/submission: play or relationships that involve an erotic power exchange.
  • Dungeon: Usually referring to a room or area with BDSM equipment and play space.

E:

  • Edgeplay: SM play that involves a chance of harm, either physically or emotionally. Because the definition of edgeplay is subjective to the specific players (i.e., what is risky for me may not be as risky for you), there is not a universal list of what is included in edgeplay. However, there are a few forms of play which almost always make the cut, including fireplay, gunplay, rough body play, breath play, and bloodplay.
  • Electro-Play: The practice of using electrical stimulation to the nerves of the body using a power source (such as a TENS, EMS, Violet wand, or made-for-play units) for purposes of sexual stimulation, body modification, tickling, or torture.
  • Endorphin Rush: Endorphins are the chemicals responsible for the “high” people often get from activities such as sex, or high-risk sports, and is the body’s response to heightened or intense experiences of certain kinds. BDSM activities, especially those incorporating a degree of sensation play often cultivate the endorphin rush as part of their “payoff” to the sub. But also see aftercare for the care needed to ensure that sub drop does not occur afterward as the body returns to normal.
  • Enema: The act of douching or cleaning the anal cavity and rectum. Can be a fetish preference.
  • Erotic Sexual Denial: keeping another person aroused while delaying or preventing resolution of the feelings, to keep them in a continual state of anticipatory tension and inner conflict, and heightened sensitivity. (see also tease and denial and chastity).
  • Erotic Spanking: The act of spanking another person for the sexual arousal or gratification of either or both parties.

F:

  • Fetish: A specific obsession or delight in one object or experience.
  • Fetlife: Kink’s equivalent of Facebook, fetlife.com is a website for posting pictures, statuses, writing, finding local groups, making friends, and organizing events.
  • Figging: The practice of inserting a piece of ginger root into the anus or vagina.
  • Fire Play: Using fire as an implement of BDSM. This can mean blowing the heat of a light torch onto a bottom, lighting pools of fuel on the bottom’s skin, lighting flash cotton on the bottom, and other creative uses of heat. Cupping is usually considered an offshoot of fireplay, although in sensation it is closer to the use of clips and clamps. Usually considered edgeplay.
  • Fisting: inserting a hand into the vagina or rectum.
  • Floggers/Flogging: A common BDSM toy and practice, a flogger is a multi-tailed whip. The tails can be made from various materials, such as leather, suede, or hair, often with wood or synthetic handles wrapped in the material of choice. Flogging can produce a sensation that’s anywhere from the sharp sting to heavy thud, or any combination of the two. Hits from a flogger are best across a part of the body that’s large and meaty, such as the upper thighs, butt, or upper back (but not) the lower back. Floggers come in many sizes, with any number of tails (and often specific names based on those numbers, such as a cat-o-nine-tails).

G:

  • Genitorture: Torture of the genitals.
  • Good Pain: pain that is mutually agreed upon, desired or permitted by the submissive partner to be experienced, and seen by them as of enjoyment or value.
  • Golden Showers: Urinating on, or being urinated on by, another person.
  • Gorean: A subgenre based upon the rituals and practices created within the world of Gor in the erotic novels by John Norman. Gorean culture is based on stereotypical gender-based roles which are considered by many to be in conflict with BDSM, where there is freedom for either gender to act in any role (Male/Female as either Dom/sub or Top/bottom).
  • Gunplay: The practice of including actual (or simulated) firearms into a scene.

H:

  • Handkerchief Codes: Visible signs to indicate to others your area of BDSM interest; a color wore on the left indicates a top, on the right, indicates a bottom.
  • Hard Limits: What someone absolutely will not do; non-negotiable (as opposed to “soft limits”).
  • Harem: A group of subs serving one or more dominants.
  • Hogtie: To tie up a submissive’s wrists and ankles, fastening them together behind their back using physical restraints such as rope or cuffs.

I:

  • Impact Play: Part of sensation play, dealing with the impact such as whips, riding crops, paddles, floggers, etc.
  • Infantilism: Parent/child or parent/baby role-playing.

J:

K:

  • K-9 Roleplay: animal roleplay where the animal being roleplayed is a dog
  • Kinbaku: Also known as Shibari which literally means “the beauty of tight binding”. Kinbaku is a Japanese style of bondage or BDSM which involves tying up the bottom using simple yet visually intricate patterns, usually with several pieces of thin rope.
  • Knife Play: Slow, methodical sensation of the bottom with the edges and points of knives, usually without cutting the skin. Fear of the weapon plays a large part in the stimulus of the bottom.

L:

  • Limits: What someone will not participate in (hard limits), or is hesitant to do so (soft limits).

M:

  • Maintenance: Weekly spankings to cover the little things that might have been missed, remind the submissive to behave and allow the Dominant to release stress.
  • Masochism: Act of receiving pain for sensual/sexual pleasure.
  • Masochist: Person who enjoys pain, usually sexually.
  • Master/slave: A consensual relationship in which one person receives control (the Master) when given it by another (the slave) for mutual benefit. An extreme form of D/s which usually involves a 24/7 relationship rather than a short period of time (scene or perhaps a weekend.) The slave will usually accept a collar from their Master to show that they are owned.
  • Medical Play: play or scenes involving medical equipment, a medical aesthetic, and medical tools. Often involves needle play and/or play piercing.
  • Mommy Domme: is the Dominant partner in a D/s relationship
  • Mummification: Immobilising the body by wrapping it up, usually with multiple layers of tight thin plastic sheeting. Breathing and other safety measures must be appropriately taken care of, often by leaving the face (or at least the mouth and nose) open. Body temperature (maintained to an extent by movement) may also be affected so a warm environment and warm aftercare may be important. Mummification is often used to enhance a feeling of total bodily helplessness, and incorporated with sensation play.
  • Munch: A group of people that are into BDSM meeting at a “vanilla” place in street-appropriate attire. Sometimes this is a club. You might see an announcement like, “This weekend’s munch is at Denny’s”.

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N:

  • Needle Play: Temporary piercings done with sterile needles of varying gauges, usually only for the duration of a scene.
  • Nose Torture: A traditionally Japanese form of BDSM often involving nose hooks.
  • Nyotaimori: Human sushi platters.

O:

  • OTK: Over the knee (spanking).

P:

  • Painslut: A person who enjoys receiving a heavy degree of pain but may or may not necessarily enjoy submitting.
  • Paraphilia: Recurrent, intense, sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors generally involving non-human objects, the suffering or humiliation of oneself or one’s partner, children, and non-consenting persons.
  • Pegging: A sexual practice in which a woman penetrates a man’s anus with a strap-on dildo.
  • Play: A general use verb to indicate doing BDSM actions, and an adjective to precede specific BDSM interests. Examples: “Needle play,” “play piercing,” “age play, ” “play party.”
  • Play Party: A BDSM event involving many people engaging in scenes.
  • Play Piercing: The practice of temporary piercing of the flesh, both for the sensation and aesthetic of piercing. Piercing are sometimes placed in designs across the body, or needles may be attached to a string or other points for further sensation.
  • ProDom: Male professional dominant (charges money).
  • ProDomme: Female professional dominant (charges money).
  • Ponygirl or Ponyboy: Sub is dressed in a pony outfit, with mouth bit and an anal plug with a tail. They are told to prance or behave like a pony.
  • Power Exchange: The act of exchanging power, from one or more parties to one or more other parties, often in the form of control and/or sensation. Consent is at the basis of any healthy power exchange, regardless of whether the exchange lasts an hour, a day, or a lifetime.
  • Pet Play: Play involving acting like, or being the owner of, a human puppy/kitty. Can involve costuming and props (leashes, collars, food bowls), usually involves some kind of power exchange.
  • Pussy Torture: Torture of the female genitals for sexual gratification.

Q:

R:

  • R.A.C.K.: Risk Aware Consensual Kink, this acronym was born as a response to SSC, as a consent-culture and safety-oriented attitude that could include more inherently risky play in its scope.
  • Rape Fantasy, Ravishment: The pleasurable fantasy of inflicting or being a victim to an act of consensual play-rape.
  • Rough Sex: sex involving anything rough: biting, scratching, power play, you name it, if it’s rough, go for it.

S:

  • Sadism: The act of inflicting pain.
  • Sadist: Person who enjoys inflicting pain, usually sexually.
  • Sadomasochist: One who enjoys both giving and receiving pain.
  • Safe, Sane and Consensual(SSC): a credo used by some BDSM practitioners to determine the appropriateness of BDSM play. Sometimes contrasted to RACK (risk-aware consensual kink).
  • Safeword: A codeword a bottom can use to force BDSM activity to stop — used especially in scenes which may involve consensual force.
  • Scat Play: Feces play.
  • Scene: A time period of BDSM activities. Also used to refer to the BDSM community (“the Scene”).
  • Sensation Play: BDSM play where the intent is to push people’s sensory limits, thus exploring texture, sensory deprival, through to whips, flagellation, and edge play.
  • Service Top: A specific kind of top, a service top usually describes their turn-on as how their actions are in service to the bottom (example: “I like to flog her because she likes it,”), as opposed a Sadist or Dominant, who might find their role a turn-on in other ways. See also: Top
  • Sensory Deprivation: depriving someone of their senses in some way. Examples: blindfolds, earmuffs/headphones/earplugs, a bag over one’s head, etc.
  • Service-Oriented Submission: A person who enjoys performing a service in a sexual or BDSM environment.
  • Shibari: traditional Japanese rope bondage, Shibari is more aesthetically specific than western bondage, and uses a series of designated length and diameter ropes. In the recent world of rope bondage, Shibari has been adapted and combined with a more western style, and the two are often seen used together. The word “Shibari” means “to tie” or “to bind.”
  • Slave: A person (usually submissive) who consensually gives up total control of one or more aspects of their life to another person (their Master).
  • Soft Limits: Something that someone is hesitant to do or is nervous to try. They can sometimes be talked into the activity, or preferably it may be negotiated at a trial or beginner level into a scene.
  • Sounding: From the medical practice, “sounding,” was equivalent to “measuring,” but within bodily orifices. In the modern kink word, sounding refers to the practice of inserting metal rods into the urethral openings (either on men or women).
  • Subdrop: A physical condition, often with cold- or flu-like symptoms, experienced by a submissive after an intense session of BDSM play. This can last for as long as a week and is best prevented by aftercare immediately after the session.
  • Submissive, or “sub”: Person that gives up control either all the time or for a specified period (not to be confused with “bottom” or “slave”).
  • Subspace: A “natural high” that a sub (or bottom) gets during a scene or when being controlled. The sub may feel disconnected from time, space, and/or their body, and may have limited ability to communicate. It is critical that a Dom(me)/top take responsibility for the sub/bottom and be aware of their sub’s well being if they are in subspace.
  • Suspension: the practice of lifting or partially lifting the subject into the air. Most commonly seen with rope, suspension can be done with any number of things, although a familiarity with anatomy and safety practices is a must.
  • S/M: originally an acronym for “Sadomasochism,” S/M, SM, or S&M became an all-inclusive word meaning the same as “kink” or “BDSM,” when the scene was still in its fledgling stages. Many older texts will use S/M (or “leather”) in much the same way as we use “BDSM” or “kink” today.
  • Switch: Someone who likes being both top and bottom, either in one scene or on different occasions.

T:

  • Taken in Hand: 24/7 Male dominance in monogamous marriage, with or without BDSM aspects.
  • Tease and Denial: Keeping another person aroused while delaying or preventing resolution of the feelings, to keep them in a continual state of anticipatory tension and inner conflict, and heightened sensitivity. (see also orgasm denial).
  • Tit Torture: The act of causing deliberate physical pain to the breasts and nipples.
  • TNG: The Next Generation. A tag commonly used by groups and organizations which cater to younger people involved in BDSM typically ages 18–35.
  • Top: Person “doing the action” (contrast with bottom — the person receiving the action). Not to be confused with Dom which is the person who “puts the scene together”. A male Dom could enjoy CBT and tell a sub what they are to do. In this case, the Top is the submissive (following the direction of the Dom) and the bottom is the Dom (receiving the attention of the top).
  • Topping from the Bottom: A bottom who purports to be a submissive but who nonetheless wants to direct the top.
  • Topdrop: An emotional, psychological, or physiological state that can sometimes come after play. Usually involves feelings of loss, loneliness, disgust, self-doubt, misgivings about the play or one’s identity as a kinkster, and sadness. Helpful remedies include cuddling, warm blankets, favorite movies, and good food. See also: subdrop. Topspace — Also called “top frenzy,” top space is the counterpart to subspace, and includes feelings of all-powerful euphoria and a desire to never stop. See also: subspace.
  • TPE or Total Power Exchange: a relationship where the dominant or owner has complete authority and influence over the submissive’s life, making the majority of decisions.
  • Training: Either referring to a short period of time (a scene) or an ongoing effort of the dominant teaching the submissive how to act.

U:

V:

  • Vanilla: Someone who is not into BDSM. Alternatively, sexual behavior which does not encompass BDSM activity. The term is sometimes used in a derogatory sense.

W:

  • Warm Up: The period at a beginning of a BDSM scene which involves gentle play, allowing the bottom to begin endorphin production, enter subspace, and undergo physiological changes (such as bringing fluids to the surface before impact play) that will accommodate more intense play.
  • WIITWD: What It Is That We Do. A broad term referring to all forms of alternative sexuality.
  • Wax Play: The top drips hot wax on the bottom.
  • Watersports: Play involving pee, playing with pee, and peeing on one another. See also: golden showers.
  • Wartenberg Wheel: A device originating in the medical field to test nerve ending response and sensation, and Wartenberg wheel is a small, very sharp-spiked wheel that can be rolled over the skin, or used in conjunction with an electrical play unit.

X:

Y:

Z:

  • Zentai: a skintight Japanese body suit typically made of spandex and nylon. It can cover the entire body, including the face. Dance teams or athletes may wear Zentai, but some people get off on the sensation of having their entire body bound in tight fabric, and wear it for kinky reasons.

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Sources:
Glossary of BDSM, Written By N/A, On May 2007, Visit Here
List of Fetishes and List of Kinks and Terminology, Written By Rekink, On N/A, Visit Here
A Very Sexy Beginner’s Guide to BDSM Words, Written By SOPHIE SAINT THOMAS, On October 25, 2017, Visit Here