The Glossary of BDSM Terms: Common Words & Lingo Explained

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French may be the language of love, but BDSM is the lingo of the kinky! There is a plethora of BDSM glossary: terms, phrases, slang, and acronyms used to describe all sorts of dirty deeds, desires, activities, and fetishes.

If you’re new to the scene and don’t know your ‘top’ from your ‘bottom’, then this BDSM dictionary is for you.

Throw away the boring grammar books. It’s time to get a real education!


BDSM Glossary: General Terms

24-7

No, it’s not a 24-hour sex shop! 24-7 describes a kink which is a full-time lifestyle. Instead of being confined to sexy time, the relationship dynamics are in place 24 hours a day, every day. 


Aftercare

For most in the BDSM community, aftercare is an essential element of any kink. It refers to the care and treatment partners require from each other after bondage or play session.

Typical aftercare includes cuddling, soft n sweet sex, discussing the good or bad elements of the scene, or giving your partner a bath or a massage.

Aftercare can be extremely important, especially for submissives, who often endure more emotional or physical exertion.

It’s also a great way to reconnect with your partner on equal ground after power exchange. 


BDSM

This umbrella term covers sexual practices that use elements of physical control, exchange of power, and mixing pain and pleasure. The acronym stands for:

  • Bondage and Discipline
  • Dominance and Submission
  • Sadism and Masochism

Bondage

The act of restraining or restricting a partner….basically, tying someone up! There are all sorts of bondage, from using handcuffs to ropes, Shibari and suspension bondage, to full-body bondage.

Bondage can be sexual and non-sexual. Some bondage is performed simply because it’s pretty! 


Consent

No matter what kink you’re into, consent is ALWAYS present. Consent is a permission that is given freely, without pressure, and with a full understanding of what is being consented to.


Contract

Many play partners partaking in BDSM fun choose to draw up a contract outlining their fun. It’s not a legal document, but more of a mutual agreement showing each person’s acceptance, understanding, consent, and commitment to their activities and relationship. 

It may detail the limits, behavior guidelines, what is expected from each partner, activities agreed to, and any punishments or consequences for any rule-breaking.


D/s (Dominance/submission)

The erotically charged power exchange between a Dominant partner and a submissive.

Usually, the Dominant term is capitalized and the submissive with a lower case to show their respective statuses.


Fetish

A fetish is experiencing sexual delight or obsession for a particular object, non-genital body part, or an experience. For example, foot fetish or shoe fetishes are quite common.

Other more ‘interesting’ fetishes include getting excited about leather, latex, or being urinated on. (See also: Golden Showers)


Good Pain 

The consensual pain kinksters gain pleasure from. It may have a sting but it’ll send shivers of pleasure coursing through your body.

Of course, this is all subjective. What one person sees as ‘good pain’ may very well be ‘bad pain’ to another. 


Hard Limits

A ‘hard limit’ is something that a person will absolutely not do during a scene and is non-negotiable, unlike a ‘soft limit’. 


Limits

Limits in BDSM refer to the things someone doesn’t want to participate in at all or is hesitant about but may consider.


RACK 

Risk Aware Consensual Kink is like a code of conduct for BDSM practitioners.

It acknowledges the simple fact that nothing in life can ever be 100% safe, but that all scene participants should be well-informed of the risks involved in their chosen activity and be in consensual agreement to engage.


SSC

“Safe, Sane and Consensual”. Another code of conduct for BDSM practitioners in which all play activities should be carried out in a safe and sane way and with total consent. 


Safeword

A Safeword or a system of safewords are agreed to before BDSM play and can be used at any point to stop the activity, or cool things down. A popular safeword system is the traffic light system, for example:

“Green” means I’m fine and enjoying this, please continue!

“Orange” means I’m ok but let’s slow down and check on me again.

“Red” means Stop.

It’s also a good idea to have non-verbal safewords so that the person can still communicate even if gagged or unable to vocalize. 


Scene 

A time period of BDSM activities and/or roleplay.


Soft Limits

BDSM activities that someone is hesitant to do or feels nervous about, but they may be open to trying.

They may need warming up to the activity, or it’s something they are interested in but perhaps for the future once they feel more comfortable. 


TPE

Total Power Exchange describes an extreme Dominant/submissive dynamic, where the Dom takes complete (or near-complete) control over the submissive’s life.

They may decide everything for the sub down to what they should eat or wear.


Training

You may see this term in reference to ‘slave’ subs and their period of training of how to serve their Dom and how to behave or perform tasks to their liking. 


Warm-Up

The gentle play at the start of a BDSM scene which allows the bottom to get into the right mindset. The warm-up is basically like foreplay for BDSM kinksters. 


Dynamic-Related Terms

ABDL

Adult Baby (AB) and Diaper Lover (DL) are two separate kinks but often enjoyed together.

AB is a form of “ageplay” (see below) in which a person gains gratification from role-playing as an infant. DLs on the other hand gain pleasure from wearing or using diapers. 


Ageplay 

Ageplay is a particular kink for those who like power exchange roleplay in which the submissive partner acts younger than they are.

Just to be clear, ageplay is NOT about being attracted to the young but being attracted to fully consenting ROLE PLAYING adults. 


DDLG

Daddy Dom/Little Girl (sometimes just referred to as Little). This particular style of Dominance and submission play borrows the caregiving dynamic of parent/child or teacher/student.

The Daddy Dom acts as a guide and disciplinarian. While the ‘Little’ may act younger than they are. 


Masochism / Masochist

Masochism is the act of receiving pain for sexual gratification. Masochists are the ones getting their sexual kicks from the pain.


Master/slave

A more extreme type of Dominant/submissive dynamic. This is a consensual power exchange arrangement where the Master takes control of more aspects of the submissive’s behavior and actions.

Quite often this dynamic is played out 24/7, but can also be for shorter periods of time.


MDLB 

Mommy Dom/Little Boy is basically the same as DDLG, but with a female in the dominant role.


Sadism / Sadist

Sadism is the act of inflicting pain and gaining a sense of pleasure (often sexual) from doing so. A sadist is a person who enjoys the action.


Service-Oriented Submission

There are many ways to submit in BDSM, and this particular style is for those who gain pleasure from serving their Dom.

Service can be through household chores or any task which enriches the life of the Dom or helps them in some way. 


Person-Related Terms

Bottom 

Nope, not your buttcheeks. This is another term for the person receiving sensation during sexy play. 


Dom / Domme / Dominant

The person in control of a scene and/or a submissive partner. While Domme is often used by females, many prefer to go with the non-gendered term of Dom or Dominant.


Painslut

You don’t have to be a submissive to be a ‘painslut’. The term describes any kinky person who gets a real endorphin rush from experiencing extreme pain.

Painsluts may like to push their own boundaries, and build up to see how much they can handle.


ProDom / ProDomme

As well as kinksters who Dominant for fun, there are also those who do it for cash, as a profession.

ProDom/Dommes are professional dominants who charge for their domination services. 


Ponygirl/ Ponyboy 

Describes a submissive who dresses up in a pony outfit, which can include a mouth bit, fake hooves, and an anal plug with a pony tail.

Their Dominant partner may instruct them to prance like a pony and may even use reins and have them pull a light cart. (See also: Animal or Pet Play)


Slave

A sub who consensually relinquishes control of certain aspects of their life to their Dominant partner, their Master or Mistress.

This sort of BDSM dynamic is often 24/7 and will have set rules and protocols that the slave should abide by during private life and public life. 


Submissive / sub

Like to be told what to do in the bedroom? Like to give up control either all the time or just for playtime? Then, congratulations, you’re a naughty little submissive or sub for short! 


Switch

A kinkster who doesn’t mind being top or bottom (giver/receiver). They can switch between the two roles within a scene or take on one role for different occasions.


Top 

The ‘top’ in a scene is the person doing the action. They aren’t necessarily the Dominant person in the situation.

The top can be a submissive directed to perform an action by their dominant partner.


Vanilla

A term to describe someone who’s not into BDSM or an act which is pretty tame on the kink-ometer. 


Play-Related Terms

Anal Training

This is training your butt to accept longer and/or wider toys or ‘boys’. There are specific anal stretching toys for this purpose.

You spend time using smaller anal dildos and slowly work your way up the scale.


Animal RolePlay

Sometimes called Pet Play. This kink is where someone likes to take on the role of an animal, such as a kitten, a puppy, or a pony.

It’s a form of roleplay that allows participants to explore behavior they wouldn’t normally experience in their everyday life. 

It can be about escapism or relinquishing the responsibility of being a ‘human’. It can also be used in Dominant/submissive dynamics to show power, ownership, or even to humiliate. 


Bastinado

The act of caning or flogging the soles of a sub’s feet.


Breast Bondage

The act (or art) of tying up breasts. It may be performed in a way that makes the breasts bulge. It can also be used to make breasts more sensitive or as a form of punishment. 


Breathplay

Not for the inexperienced! Officially called Erotic Asphyxiation (EA), Breathplay is the act of choking your partner and/or restricting their breath. (See also: Edgeplay)


CBT

“Cock and Ball Torture” is causing pain (and pleasure) to the penis and/or testicles. Think squeezing, ball stretching, genital spanking, urethral play (see also: Sounding), or even kicking.


Caning

Bend over! Caning refers to striking your partner with a cane, usually on the butt, backs of the thighs, or soles of their feet. 


Chastity Play

Not having sex doesn’t sound that kinky, but it all comes down to control.

Locking up a partner’s genitals with cock cages or chastity belts means restricting sexual contact (solo or with a partner) and orgasms. It can be a fun way to heighten anticipation and assert dominance.


Consensual Nonconsent 

Con-Non-Con is sometimes referred to as “rape play” where players wish to act out violent fantasies.

This is a very complex roleplay that requires a lot of pre-negotiation beforehand with an open and honest discussion about limits and boundaries.

A word of warning, do not go into this without safewords and safe signals. (See also: Safewords)


Edgeplay

Any play within BDSM that involves risk of real harm, physically or emotionally, is called ‘edgeplay’.

It’s so-called because it is on the edge of the BDSM ‘rules’. (See also: SSC) There are many forms of play that fall under this term, including breathplay, knife play, fire play, and erotic humiliation. 


Edging

Not the same as edgeplay. Edging is the process of taking yourself or a partner to the edge of climax, then stopping before release, and then starting again. A beautiful rollercoaster!


Electro Play

The act of providing sexual stimulation through low voltage electric shocks.

You can find a whole range of safe electro-stimulation (e-stim) sex toys such as the Violet Wand which can deliver a range of sensations from tickling to torture. Let the sparks fly!


Erotic Sexual Denial

Withholding sex or climax to keep your partner in a state of anticipation and arousal. It can be a way to assert power over a submissive partner. (See also: Tease and Denial).


Erotic Humiliation

If you enjoy being called a “dirty little sex whore” in the bedroom, you might be into erotic humiliation.

Some people gain sexual arousal from humiliating or being humiliated. It can range from light embarrassment during sex, to more extreme public humiliation and degradation. 


Figging 

Peel a piece of ginger root and insert it into the anus or vagina…voilà, figging!


Fisting

Lube up your hand, and insert it into the vagina or anus…voilà, fisting!

It can be performed with the fingers close together and the thumb tucked in the middle, tapered for easy insertion, or with a full-on, rounded fist.


Golden Showers

If you love the sensation of being urinated on or urinating on a partner, then give them a ‘golden shower’. (See also: Piss Play)


Gunplay

A form of edgeplay where roleplaying kinksters use real or fake firearms in a scene. As with any edgeplay, approach with caution and consent.


Impact Play

Like to spanked every now and then? Well, that’s just a little taste of impact play.

You can also get into impact play with whips, floggers, paddles, riding crops, and even household items such as wooden spoons or flat-backed hairbrush. (See also: Sensation Play)


Knife Play

BDSM scenes using the edges and points of blades. This is usually done without cutting the skin, but some kinksters into the extreme side of things may permit light scoring of the skin or more.

This edge play is not for the faint of heart and should only be practiced with someone you trust. 


Mummification

This is a particular style of bondage which immobilizes the entire body from head to toe, with just holes left for breathing. It is often done with bondage tape or Saran wrap.

The kink aspect comes from the feeling of being completely helpless and can be added to with sensation play. 


Needle Play

An extreme form of BDSM which involves temporary piercings or recreational acupuncture performed with sterile needles.

The piercings are only inserted for the duration of the play scene and then removed, but the endorphin high can last for hours and even induce orgasm.


Nose Torture

This is a traditional Japanese form of BDSM often using nose hooks or clothes pegs.

It can also include nose caning or clamps on the nose septum (the middle part between your nostrils). It can be used as a way of restraining a submissive or in humiliation play.


Pegging 

Pegging refers to anal sex fun, where the female wears a strap on dildo to penetrate a man’s ass. 


Piss Play

Piss play, also known as ‘watersports’ is as you can imagine, all about getting freaky with your pee! It can be explored as a way to dominate a sub, or just for general kinky fun.

It can include peeing on a partner, drinking it, or even pissing into the anus or vagina. 


Pussy Torture

Pussy torture is a BDSM practice during which the female genitals receive pain for sexual gratification.

It can include things like forced orgasms with intense vibrators, e-stim shocks, caning, use of clamps, or figging. 


Rope Bondage

The act of tying someone up with rope. (See also Shibari and Kinbaku).


Scat Play

Playtime with poop. 


Sensation Play 

It’s all about the senses, from sensory deprivation to sensory overload.

Think tickling with feathers, flogging, using ice-cubes, dripping hot wax on your lover’s back, blindfolds, spanking, etc. 


Sounding

The insertion of metal rods into the urethra. The act stimulates the sensitive areas within the clitoris and G spot or prostate and the penis head.


Tease and Denial

Taking a person to the brink of orgasm and then denying them sweet release, over and over and over again.

The agony of anticipation heightens sensitivity and can mean a more powerful climax when it’s finally allowed.


Temperature Play

A type of sensory play where different temperatures are used to stimulate the body.

For example, giving a blow job after sucking an ice-pop or running a dildo under hot water before fucking your partner with it.


Tit Torture

Administering physical pain to breasts and nipples. This can include all sorts of pain techniques such as needle play, breast bondage, e-stim, or flogging.


Wax Play

This is a type of temperature play, dripping hot candle wax onto the body of your sub. Different candles produce different temperatures of wax, so be careful. 


Other Useful Terms

Auctioned Off

You may hear of a ‘slave auction’ where a submissive will be ‘auctioned off’ by their Dominant partner to the highest bidder.

This is always consensual, usually supervised and normally for a short time period. 


Collar

A collar is usually worn by a kinkster who wishes to show their submissive nature or ownership by a Dominant.

Collars may have a padlock with the key held by the Dominant partner, be used with a leash, or be worn only during play. 


Collaring

A collaring ceremony is like a BDSM version of an engagement or marriage between a Dominant and submissive who have a 24-7 relationship.

Just with a collar on their neck instead of putting a ring on their finger! 


Dungeon

A dungeon doesn’t have to be a dark, medieval-style hole in the wall! A ‘dungeon’ simply refers to a room or area that has been set up with BDSM equipment.


DM / Dungeon Monitor

If you ever find yourself invited to a play party, you may be greeted by a Dungeon Monitor.

They are basically like a bouncer for BDSM events and supervise interactions to ensure everyone is playing by the rules.


Harem

A harem is a form of BDSM polyamory, basically, a group of two or more submissives serving one or more dominants. 


Hogtie

The ‘hogtie’ is a bondage position. The person being tied up will be lying face down and have their wrists and ankles fastened behind.


Kinbaku

This is an ancient form of Japanese rope bondage. In the Western world, the term Kinbaku is used synonymously with Shibari.

They are both artistic forms of tying with ropes, but with one slight difference. Shibari comes from the Japanese verb “to tie”, Kinbaku means “tight binding”. (See also Shibari)


Munch 

A social meeting of BDSM folk in a non-kinky setting and in casual ‘normal’ attire.

It’s a great way to meet and get to know like-minded kinksters in a non-intimidating place. Perfect for newbies to the BDSM scene.


OTK

An acronym for “over the knee” spanking. Often used in DDLG or any D/s play.


Play Party

A play party is a BDSM social event where sexual activity and BDSM play is accepted.

Usually, there will be separate areas for general socializing and for sexual activities. It’s not mandatory to ‘play’, you can just watch if you wish. 


Rope Drunk

The happy-feel-good sensation some people experience after a rope bondage session. 


Shibari

The ancient art of Japanese erotic bondage. The term ‘shibari’ is a Japanese word which means “to tie decoratively”. 


Sub Drop

After an intense BDSM session, some subs may experience cold and flu-like symptoms which can last up to a week. It’s kind of like a drug come down.

During the scene, the brain releases all the happy chemicals in large amounts, but after the high comes the ‘drop’. You can help prevent the sub drop by having adequate aftercare.


Subspace

Subspace is the natural high that a sub can experience during a BDSM scene.

It can be euphoric but it’s worth mentioning that the sub may feel ‘out of it’ as though they are on drugs, which they are…just the happy natural sort! But this may limit their ability to communicate.

So, if you’re Dominating, be extra vigilant of their well-being. 


Topping From the Bottom 

A phrase to describe when a submissive starts to become more dominant in the relationship or scene. Generally, this is considered incorrect behavior from a true sub.


Fluent Yet?

Just like any language, BDSM lingo evolves over time and there are always new phrases and slang terms popping up.

While this BDSM glossary is by no means exhaustive, it should give you a good base for any BDSM chat!

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