Language is constantly growing and changing, and even more so in the kink community, as it finds some mainstream acceptance and people discover new and novel ways to play, and things to fetishise. This glossary was compiled using keyword searches, community consultation, social media, and traditional dictionaries, and aims to serve as a fairly comprehensive beginner’s guide to the 100 most common words in a kink conversation.
24/7: the dynamic that exists when people live within BDSM protocol at all times; commonly found in Total Power Exchange (TPE) relationships.
Aftercare: Tending to a bottom/submissive after play. The required care is generally negotiated prior to play and is based on the requirements of the bottom/submissive, and carried out by the Top or Dominant.
Age Play (ageplay): an often misunderstood form of role-play in which individuals take on the behaviours and traits of a specific age, ranging from babies to the elderly. This can be for sexual or non-sexual gratification, and can also be found as part of a power-exchange dynamic, with one partner surrendering their adult responsibilities in exchange for the gentle and nurturing control of another. Common examples of Age Play roles, include Daddy Dom and little girl (DD/lg), Mummy and baby boy (M/bb) and general C/caregivers.
Auralism: Sexual arousal due to sound, comparative to voyeurism eg. Music, dirty talk, listening to others have sex.
Babyboy/girl: a role taken on by the submissive in an Age Play scene, generally characterised by a pre-school role. Also a common term of endearment from Dom/me to sub, separate from an Age Play interaction.
Bastinado: caning the sole of the bare foot, most commonly performed with the ankles tied together.
BDSM: acronym commonly interpreted as Bondage and Discipline (BD), Dominance and submission (D/s), and Sadism and Masochism (SM). BDSM is a single acronym that unites an array of lifestyles, fetishes, and paraphilia that may otherwise have nothing in common.
Big: the participant in a scene representing the adult authority figure and/or caregiver to a little.
Blood Play: erotic, sensual, and/or sexual play involving the letting of blood, generally via cutting, impact, or needles, also known as ‘hematolagnia’. Blood players often have a fascination with some form of vampirism, so licking and/or drinking blood is not uncommon in these scenes.
Bondage: the ‘B’ in BDSM, and simply put, the act of restraining a partner for sexual and/or sensual stimulation. Restraints themselves range from simple ropes, tapes and bandages, but also incorporate the use of cuffs, bars, stocks, and larger equipment like the StAndrew’s Cross.
Bottom/Bottoming: the ‘passive’ participant in a BDSM scene, the receiver of the sensations, the participant performed on by the Top. (Not to be confused with ‘submissive’.)
Brats: littles who play at gaining attention from their Dominants via acts of seeming disobedience, mischievous pranks, and flirtatiousness. Although sometimes seen as disrespectful or manipulative behaviour, bratting is generally a negotiated and playful part of a D/s dynamic.
Breath Play/Control: refers to the restriction of oxygen for heightened arousal during sensual or sexual activities. Common methods used during play include choking, gags, strangulation, and smothering. Breath play is considered ‘edge play’ and should not be engaged in without anatomical knowledge, and education of the risks inherent to the play.
Canes/Caning: a tool for impact play, often made of wood, but also be found in rubber, metal, and even fibreglass. Canes are generally light-weight, easy to control, and usually used to create sharp, quick and intense stings. Caning is generally given on the thighs and bum.
Cock and Ball Torture (CBT): an act in which a male consents to have sadistic acts performed on their genitals. The genitals are often bound or suspended for these purposes, and activities are restricted only by negotiations between the Top and bottom. Some common practices include electroplay, needles, urethral sounds, and abrasions.
Collar/Collaring: a symbol of ownership worn around the neck by a slave, and sometimes a submissive. The act of collaring itself is done with meaning and commitment, with the submissive accepting custodianship of the Dom/mes collar and working towards maintaining it’s negotiated meaning. Collars are often found in TPE dynamics.
Confinement: the act of keeping a submissive in a small space. Depending on the dynamic, confinement can be achieved with an array of apparatus including cages, playpens, cots, and cubby houses.
Consensual Non-consent (CNC): the giving over of consent to be violated for purposes of role-play. Commonly associated with ‘rape’ fantasy. Can be considered edge play.
Consent: informed, confident, and clear permission, given without manipulation or coercion. Consent can be retracted at any time. Contracts: terms and conditions negotiated for the purposes of one-off play or ongoing relationships, and consented to by all parties involved. In a progressive Power Exchange relationship, contracts are generally renegotiated at scheduled intervals and used as a way to encourage growth and commitment in both parties.
Crops: a thin, flexible impact tool with a small flap at the end. Commonly used on the thighs and/or buttocks to give a strong stinging sensations.
Cutting: using knives, razors and/or scalpels to break the skin as a part of kink play. Cutting can be part of many different scenes including blood play, scarification, interrogation, or just pure sadism.
Dacryphilia: a fetish for tears and crying.
Daddy: a title given to a Dom/me who takes on a caring, nurturing ‘parental’ relationship with their submissive. Often abbreviated to DD - Daddy Dom.
Degradation: the non-consensual humiliation of another, often used in a CNC context for role-play.
Discipline: one part of the ‘D’ in the BDSM acronym, and the art of training and teaching a submissive to follow the protocol and expectations of their Dom/me. Discipline focuses on the way a D-type improves their submissive, and in the way a submissive establishes an ongoing ritual of service. Due to the focus on improvement, discipline is often enacted through conversation, and is not to be confused with punishment, which is inflicted when submissive have consciously misbehaved or shown disrespect.
Domination/Dominant: one part of the ‘D’ in BDSM, domination is the act of consensual control over some or all aspects of another person’s life. The controller is known as the Dominant, often abbreviated to ‘Dom’ (masc), ‘Domme’ (fem), Dom/me (gender neutral) and ‘D’ - and the person giving over control is the submissive (s). A Dominant/submissive (D/s) relationship is frequently practised in Power Exchange dynamics.
Drop: a term used to describe low mood or feelings a day or so after a BDSM session. Part of the drop experience is the body chemically recalibrating itself after an intense experience, and is linked with adrenal fatigue. It can be experienced by both Dom/mes and subs, and should only be of concern if limiting daily function.
Dynamic: in a BDSM context this relates to way participants engage with each other in during their relationship or scene; common examples include Top/bottom, Dominant/submissive, Master/slave, Daddy/babygirl.
Edge Play: any activities that can result in serious permanent damage - physical, psychological or emotional - or death, and push or go over the boundaries of SSC or RACK. What defines this play is subjective to the country, culture and community of the players involved, and is often based on what can be practised legally.
Edging: a sexual activity, performed solo or partnered, whereby an orgasm is denied just prior to release, only to be rebuilt and denied again. This is a common part of TPE dynamics in which the submissive or slave must ask permission to cum.
Electro Play: using controlled surges of electrical shock for erotic and/or sexual gratification. There are an array of tools and toys for electroplay, ranging from very mild sextoys to medical TENS units and cattle-prodders. The tool is dependent on the intention of the scene and the desired sensations and reactions, but electroplay can easily form part of a sensation, medical or interrogation scene.
Fetish: an erotic or sexual fixation with a particular object or act. In some cases it is simply a small additional turn-on, and in others it is a requirement to sexual gratification.
Flogging/Flogger: made from strands of leather (falls) that attach to a baton-shaped handle, the flogger is a versatile piece of equipment generally used in impact or sensation play. It is generally used on the back of the body to avoid impacting vital organs.
Fluid Bonded: a consensual agreement between (often monogamous) partners to share sexual secretions, cum etc by engaging in unprotected sex. Porous BDSM implements also become fluid-bonded if they shed blood.
Foot Play: impact and/or sensation play directed to the soles of the feet, sometimes incorporating Bastinado, trampling, or worship.
Funishment: distinctly different to punishment in that funishment is not a consequence for poor behaviour, rule-breaking, or disrespect. Although there may be pain involved for the bottom, it is given and received in a playful, flirtatious manner.
Gags: devices used to cover the mouth, or hold the mouth in position. Gags can be used to suppress noise, restrict oxygen or keep the mouth open.
Hentai: manga and anime porn.
Hojojutsu: a Japanese martial art in which ropes are used as weaponry, and an inspiration for modern day shibari and kinbaku.
Humiliation: the act of embarrassing, demeaning, or abasing the pride for erotic and/or sexual gratification. Humiliation can be inflicted physically or verbally, but it’s main impact aims to be psychological. Often considered edge play due to it’s emotional nature.
Interrogation Play: role-play whereby the bottom is subjected to physical and psychological examination and probing in order for the Top to gain information.
Impact Play: mutual gratification (sexual or otherwise) from repetitive contact to the body, using the hands (eg. spanking) or an array of tools and techniques, used together or separately. Common examples include flogging, caning, whipping or spanking.
Kinbaku: a form of Japanese bondage, meaning ‘bind tightly’. Unlike the aesthetic emphasis of shibari, kinbaku’s intent is to keep the bottom bound and in place.
Kinky: having different sexual, sensual and erotic passions than are commonly accepted. This could be evidenced by fetishes or participation in sexual activities deemed taboo by current standards.
Knife Play: a form of sensation and/or psychological play whereby the Top uses a knife to tease, touch, and taunt the bottom, without breaking the skin.
Leather: a fetishised fabric and a lifestyle. The Leather lifestyle is a cornerstone of the modern BDSM community, as many of the early, organised S/M events were created within the Leather culture. There are many traditions and subsets within this culture, but most are founded on some sort of military protocol or tradition.
Limits: these are the established boundaries that players make in order to negotiate play. ‘Soft limits’ include activities one is hesitant to try, but would potentially negotiate further. ‘Hard limits’ are non-negotiable activities that you have no want to participate in.
Little: a submissive/bottom who surrenders adult responsibilities to a D-type in exchange for Their nurturing and care. The age range for littles is anywhere from toddler to teen, though the most common behaviours include a love of colouring books, animation, and a need for safe space.
Masochism: the ‘M’ part of the BDSM acronym, masochism is the enjoyment and gratification in receiving pain.
Master: an honorific referring to the Dominant member in a D/s dynamic, most often found in TPE relationships. In many communities the title of ‘Master’ is bestowed upon the individual by the community as a sign of reverence and gratitude. Although seemingly gender-specific, currently ‘Master’ is also used as a gender-neutral.
Medical Play: any kink play in which medical instruments are used, including but not limited to: cutting with scalpels; piercing the skin with needle fits; urethral sounds; vaginal and anal speculums; saline injections. Medical play can be seen as basic role-play e.g. Doctors and Nurses, however it is also used in body modification, and in the latter context is often considered edge play.
Middle: an age player who identifies as a teen OR a person who identifies their little tendencies, but does not regress to any particular age, choosing instead to partake in child-like behaviours without any props.
Mistress: an honorific referring to the Dominant member in a D/s dynamic, most often found in TPE relationships. In many communities the title of ‘Mistress’ is bestowed upon the individual by the community as a sign of reverence and gratitude.
Mummy/Mommy: a title given to a Domme who takes on a caring, nurturing ‘parental’ relationship with their submissive.
Needle Play: body piercing with the focus on the sensation and short-term aesthetic and/or goal, rather than longer-term wearing of jewellery. Needle play is often part of a larger scene, eg. medical, blood, sadistic or sensation play and/or a larger aesthetic eg, skin corsets, needle collars. This is also known as ‘play piercing’ or ‘recreational piercing’.
Negotiation: the act of working out what the boundaries are. This can be short-term in the context of a play session, or long term regarding a relationship or contract.
Obedience: the ability to follow Protocol, and the act of complying to established boundaries. This is generally something taught to a sub by their individual Dom/me as part of submissive or slave training.
Objectification: relates to the dehumanisation, depersonalisation or the removal of ‘human’ attributes. Examples include ‘human furniture’ (forniphilia), ‘living dolls’ (dollification), ‘fucktoys’, and human toilets/ashtrays/trashcans.
Orgasm Control and Denial: the act of bringing someone close to sexual climax, only to stop, slow or disrupt the action in such a way that orgasm is delayed until the Dom/me’s agreement and/or permission. Asking permission to cum is common in PE dynamics, the idea being the D-type controls even this form of ultimate sexual expression.
Paraphilia: a psychiatric condition characterised by engagement in unusual sexual practices. Paraphilia is no longer seen as a problematic condition unless it is causing long term harm or dysfunction.
Pet Play: a roleplay activity that can be found in D/s relationships, with the s-type taking on the role of a pet eg. pup, kitty, pig, pony, guard dog and the Dom/me taking the role of Owner, Caregiver or Handler.
Play: time set aside to engage in BDSM activities.
Podophilia: a fetish for feet and/or shoes.
Power Exchange(PE)/Total Power Exchange (TPE): the interdependent and synergetic relationship based on the mutual consent of a Dominant and submissive, whereby a sub gives over control of some aspects of their life, with the Dominant agreeing to take on these responsibilities of control. Also known as ‘erotic power play’ and ‘authority exchange’, PE is also a journey on the path to Total Power Exchange, which results in every part of the sub’s life being maintained by control, via either explicit instructions or established Protocol.
Protocol: the rules and standards for behaviour, presentation, and chores as negotiated between a Dominant and Their submissive and/or a Master/Mistress and Their slave. Protocol is also used in some clubs and communities as a standard of etiquette for all participants.
Punishment: is a consequence negotiated in a D/s dynamic to be given out by the Dominant when the submissive has broken established rules or Protocols. Punishments do not have to be physical in nature, in fact due to the overwhelming inclination of masochistic tendencies for submissives, physical punishments are sometimes avoided. Physical punishments are best served in a consensual, but uncomfortable scene, using a tool disliked by the submissive.
Retifism: a shoe fetish.
Rigger: The Top in a rope session.
Risk-Aware Consensual Kink (RACK): a guiding principle for safe play, generally employed by those who have a good understanding of their limits via experience with kink play, and consistent education on best practice.
Rubberist: a catch-all term for a person with a fetish for latex, rubber and/or PVC.
St Andrews Cross (SAC): also known as an ‘X-Frame’ or ‘X-Cross’, sac is a fairly common piece of bdsm furniture. The X-shaped frame has several restraint points, most commonly for the wrists and ankles, but often for the waist and/or collar. This frame keeps the bottom spreadeagled, for sexual teasing or impact play that requires maximum skin exposure, like flogging or whipping.
Sadism: One part of the ’S’ in BDSM, sadism is the enjoyment in causing pain in others.
Safe Sane Consensual (SCC): a guiding principle for safe play, particularly for those still unsure of their limits.
Saline Play: the act of having saline injected into one’s body parts, often the penis, testicles, labia and breasts.
Scat: sexual, sensual or erotic play with faeces.
Scene: the theme or intended play planned or acted out in a session of BDSM activities. Eg. a medical scene could involve saline, blood and sadistic play. A foot play scene could involve both impact and sensation using canes and wax. The scene is the overall accumulation of the play.
Sensation Play: play with a focus on physical sensation using an array of tools and techniques. This play does not set out to focus on pain, although pain may be one of the sensations played with. Like most other forms of play, Sensation Play aims to bring the submissive to space via controlling stimuli.
Sensory Deprivation: cutting off one or more of the bottom’s senses from external stimuli with the use of blindfolds, restraints, earplugs, vacuum beds, hoods, zentai, gloves etc
Service: the act of an s-type performing tasks for a Dominant, often domestic, sexual, or emotional in nature. Non-negotiated ‘help’ or ‘chores’ provided for the D-type are not considered service.
Shibari: a form of Japanese bondage, translating as ‘to bind’. In a modern BDSM context, Shibari is focused more of the art of the knots and binding itself, rather than the restriction of the bottom.
slave: a submissive who gives an amount of control over to their Dominant, who is generally titled as ‘Master’ or ‘Mistress’ in this type of dynamic. A slave may consent to give limited to total control depending on the relationship, but with this dynamic more control is generally given than is kept.
Sounds: these are rods of varying diameters that are inserted into the urethra during the act of sounding. This act, also known as ‘cock stuffing’ can achieve both pleasure and pain, but a good education in anatomy is advised.
Space: a headspace individuals can achieve through BDSM play. Although a totally subjective feeling, ‘space’ is characterised by the lack of self-consciousness, calm, and happiness created by the endorphins released during a scene. In many cases a Top is seeking to take a bottom to this space, and for this reason responsibility for decision making during the play may be relinquished to the bottom’s Dominant, or the Top themself.
Spanking: The act of repetitively slapping the (generally) bare arse with a hand.
Submission/submissive: one part of the ’S’ in the BDSM acronym, submission is giving over of the control for some or all aspects of life to another person in a negotiated BDSM context. The giver of the control – the submissive (s) (s-type) – can give over as much or as little control as they wish, in any or all aspects of life. Some people choose to submit only sexually, others don’t want any sex at all. There are as many definitions of a submissive as there are D/s dynamics.
Switch: a person with Dominant and submissive tendencies.
Top/Topping: the person conducting the action in a BDSM scene, the giver of the sensations, the participant performing the play on the bottom. (Not to be confused with Dominant, or the person who controls the sub.)
Total Power Exchange (TPE): is the dynamic in which a submissive gives absolute control the their Dominant.
Trampling: using the feet to stand on the genitals. The giver of the trampling is the Trampler, and the receiver is the Tramplee.
Urolagnia: urine fetish
Voyeurism: sexual arousal from the act of watching the sexual acts of others, e.g. viewing porn, erotic photography or consensual public sex. Although generally associated with ‘spying’ or secret observation, in a kink context, consent is a necessity.
Wartenberg Pinwheel: common to a kinky toy box, this tool is used in sensation play to stimulate nerve endings, although it was originally designed as a medical device used in neurology to test sensitivity. (also known as Wartenberg Wheel or Pinwheel)
Watersports: kink play involving urine. e.g.. Golden Showers, diaper-wearing, toilet control. Also known as ‘wetplay’ and enacted as part of urolagnia.
WaxPlay: mostly used as a form of sensation play, or aesthetic eroticism, candles or melted wax are dripped, painted and/or splashed over the bottom’s body. There is no intention to burn or mark the skin unless otherwise negotiated.
Whips: coming in a wide variety of styles, and made from an array of materials, but most notable leather, the whip is one of the most hazardous impacts tools in use. It takes great technique and years of practice to truly master the ability of giving so much impact to such a small space on the body, and to do it from such a distance.
Your Kink’s Not My Kink But That’s OK (YKNMKTOK): General words to live by in the BDSM community. (Also known as ‘Don’t be a judgemental tool’.)
Zentai: a skin-tight suit that covers the entire body, including the head.