Q: Sex word glossary

A: We get questions from people asking what certain sex terms mean, so here are the most frequently asked words to our phone switchboard. Some of them are words that adults find in “personal ads”. Some of them are words that children hear at school. Some of them are words that people have heard of but don’t know what they mean.

We do NOT claim to list all sex terms here! There are literally tens of thousands of sex-related words in English in usage. These are just the SFSI staff are asked to define most often.

BDSM. A broad category of types of sexual play, associated with power exchange. Depending on who you ask, the initials can stand for Bondage/Discipline, Sadism/Masochism, Slave/Master, Dominance/Submission.

bottom. Meaning varies by sexual subculture, but generally means either (1) submissive in BDSM or power exchange play, or (2) penetrated partner in anal sex.

blue balls. A rare but painful condition that can happen to males. In rare conditions, sufficient arousal for a long time without ejaculation can cause pain in the testes. Important to note that some boys try to use this as an excuse to coerce girls into sex, often lying about experiencing it. Girls can tell guys to simply masturbate to get the release they are looking for.

clitoris. A part of a woman’s genital area that is usually the most sexually sensitve part of her body. See a niceĀ diagram of a woman’s genital area.

escort. Sometimes used as another word for “prostitute”, although there are services providing “escorts” that do not intend to provide sex.

french. Personal ad term for “oral sex”.

fisting. Putting a hand completely inside a vagina (vaginal fisting) or anus (anal fisting).

four twenty (420 / 4-20). This is NOT a sex word, but its meaning is a common question at our switchboard. It is term used in personal ads to refer to marijuana (pot) usage or tolerance, although exact meaning varies.

gay. No one agrees on an exact definition, but generally speaking it means someone who is attracted to someone of the same sex.

golden showers. Sex play that involves urine (pee).

greek. Personal ad term for “anal sex”.

gynocologist. A doctor specializing in female reproductive and urinary organs: vagina, uterus, cervix, ovaries, bladder, and other organs in that area.

hymen. A thin membrane of skin covering part (not all) of a woman’s vaginal canal. A girl’s or woman’s hymen may or may not be there, and that isn’t always because of sex. It used to be thought that the hymen was evidence of whether or not a woman had had sexual intercourse, but that is not true. It can be torn from tampons, exercise, or other non-sexual use. Not even all women are born with intact hymens!

lesbian. No one agrees on an exact definition, but generally speaking it means a woman who is attracted to women.

masturbation. Giving yourself sexual pleasure. Many men and women masturbate, although not everyone does it.

polyamory. People disagree on the actual definition, but it implies a sexual or romantic arrangement with 3 or more people. See “The Ethical Slut” for more information.

rimming. Using your tongue on someone else’s anal area. Some people just go near the anal opening, and some people directly lick the anal opening.

scat. Sex play that involves fecal matter (poo).

sixty-nine (69). A way that two people can experience oral sex at the same time. You kind of need to picture the “6” and the “9” as people, with the little tails representing their heads. You’ll notice that this means that they’re upside down from each other. The idea is that they’re licking or sucking each other’s genitals at the same time.

SM / S&M. A broad category of types of sexual play, associated with power exchange. The initials can stand for Sadism/Masochism, or sadomasochism. Masochism is getting sexual pleasure from receiving pain. Sadism is getting pleasure from inflicting pain.

switch. In BDSM or power exchange play, ability to be submissive (top) or dominant (bottom) depending on the situation and the partners they are with.

top. Meaning varies by sexual subculture, but generally means either (1) dominant in BDSM or power exchange play, or (2) penetrating partner in anal sex.

transgender. Transgender is used as an umbrella term that includes female and male cross dressers, transvestites, drag queens or kings, female or male impersonators, pre-operative, post-operative or non-operative transsexuals, masculine females, feminine males, all persons whose perceived gender or anatomical sex may be incongruent with their gender expression, and all persons exhibiting gender characteristics and identities which are perceived to be androgynous.

urologist. A doctor specializing in male reproductive and urinary organs: penis, scrotum, testicles, prostate, bladder, and other organs in that area.