BDSM Glossary

  • Abduction Play – Consensual fantasy play staged by partners who act out physical struggle, capture and intimidation of one or more sexual partners. To intensify the experience, costumes such as police or military uniforms are often used (Nazi dress being a favourite). Bondage equipment such as rope, thumbcuffs, handcuffs, blinfolds, gags, tape and similar gear are also very popular in abduction play.
  • Age Play – Type of erotic roleplay in which partner treats another as if s/he were a different age. Imagined age differences are the basis of this practice, which has nothing to do with pedophilia. One of the partners can assume an older role or, more commonly, pretend to be younger than s/he actually is. Many variations include incest play which sexualizes family roles and daddy’s girl fetishism, in which female pretends to be young and sweet daughter, while male assumes the role of a father.
  • Asphyxiation – Also known as breath control play or asphyxiophilia. This practice includes intentional oxygen depletion to the brain in order to achieve sexual arousal and is categorized as paraphilia because of potential for serious injury or even death. Methods used for asphyxiation include hanging, chest compression, suffocation with plastic bag, self-strangulation or combination of these. A person engaging in this activity is informally called a gasper.
  • BDSM – A combined acronym derived from the terms bondage and discipline (B&D, B/D or simply BD) , dominance and submission (D&S, D/S, DS) , sadism and masochism (S&M, S/M,SM). BDSM consists of wide spectrum of physical activites and complex forms of hierarchical interpersonal relationships. Although not always openly sexual, activities and relations within BDSM are commonly eroticized by the participants to certain extent. Participants in BDSM take on corresponding, yet unequal roles. Commonly, active participants that exercise control over others are known as Dominants or tops. The ones who are recipient of activities performed by their partner in control are typically known as bottoms or submisives. There are also individuals who move between top and bottom roles periodically or in various relationships- they are called S/switches. Terms “play”, “a scene” or “session” describe BDSM actions agreed by both partners that take place during the specific period of time. Although many of BDSM practices include pain, humiliation and restraint that would under normal circumstances be unpleasant, all parties involved in BDSM usually derive pleasure from the performed activities. Sexual intercourse may occur during session, but is not essential. Due to all possible risks of such practice, fundamental principles of BDSM require that it should be performed by mature and responsible partners, consensual and in a safe manner. Since the 1980s these principles have been compressed into motto “Safe, sane and consensual” abbreaviated as SSC. It is the mutual consent that states an ethical and legal distinction between BDSM and crimes as rape or domestic violence. A safeword agreed in advance enables bottom to withdraw his/her consent at any given time. Tops that dismiss safeword are comitting serious misconduct in BDSM and are facing criminal charges depending on the relevant law since their bottom has explicitly withdrawn his/her consent for the actions following safeword. Pre-play negotiations are quite common, especially when partners aren’t familiar with each other. Their goal is to discuss partners’ fantasies and interests in order to eastablish a framework for session.
  • Bondage – Sexual bondage refers to use of restraints that derives sexual arousal and pleasure of the parties involved. In Western countries, bondage is commonly part of a sexual or BDSM activity, though it can be used on its own, like in cases of breast bondage. Bedroom bondage is usually mild and includes one partner voluntarily being restrained by other with cuffs or ropes, combined with other sex toys such as blindfolds and gags. While restrained, tied partner may be sexually stimulated by masturbation, oral sex, a vibrator or intercourse. S/he also derives sexual pleasure from being “helpless”, while the free partner may achieve arousal from being in a dominant position. Besides being a standard practice in BDSM, bondage is a frequent component of a common fantasy settings such as rape and abduction, predicament bondage, dominance/slavery and is often associated with other sexual techniques.There is a large variety of bondage equipment available to achieve different results, such as ropes, harnesses, cuffs, spreader bars, x- frames, clothing such as hobble skirts, straitjacjets and sleepsacks. All of the above enable restraint in various positions, most commonly hands being tied together in front or at the back. Other popular positions include spread eagle (with limbs spread and fastened by wrists and ankles), hogtie (which secures each wrist to its complement ankle behind the back) and crotch rope (applying pressure to female genitalia by pulling a rope between the labia; sometimes the knot is placed at the position of clitoris to intensify the sensation).
  • Boots – Type of protective footwear that covers whole foot and a part of a leg, most commonly up to the knee. Due to their sleek coverage of skin, they are popular item in a fetishistic culture, especially those made of leather, rubber, PVC featuring high or extreme heels. In BDSM, dominant women are often wearing boots to complete the image of untouchability and ultimate power. Boot fetishists may prefer to indulge in activities such as boot worship and trampling.
  • Branding – In BDSM, it refers to marking of the collared submissive as a sign of permanent bonding, form of punishment or imposing masterly rights over an enslaved person. Skin is most commonly marked by a hot or very cold branding iron which is placed upon the skin to burn and leave a design of some sort. Resulting scar is permanent, so branding shouldn’t be considered a “scene”, but done only by a knowledgeable practitioner.
  • CBT – An abbrevation for cock and ball torture, which is a sadomasochistic activity consisting of male genitals torture. Equipment used for CBT includes cock rings and ball stretchers, testicle cuffs, humbler and parachute. It may involve overtly painful activities, such as genital spanking and flogging, squeezing, ball busting, wax play, urethral torture, sexual electrostimulation or even hard kicking. Pleasure derived from such activites may be direct physical via masochism or achieved through knowledge that CBT is enjoying for the sadistic Dominant.
  • Cage – An enclosure used to restrict freedom of movement of the enclosed person, as to confine a bottom/submissive. They are mostly made of metal, but wood cages are also commonplace. Most cages are made in a rectangular box shape, but may vary in shape (dome, pyramid, sphere) and functionality (cage door, hanging cage, body cage). Although they are a piece of standard equipment in dungeons, they can also be seen in residential bedrooms or spare rooms. However, due to high price and considerate weight, cages are rare among non-professional sub-culture, though they remain highly appealing to many sadomasochists.
  • Caning – A form of corporal punishment which consists of number of strokes (usually called cuts) with a strong, yet flexible cane made of rattan. Strokes are usually delivered to submissive’s bare or covered buttocks or wide open palms, though in Middle East caning the soles of the feet is a tradition. Depending on the severity of strokes, caning may cause variety of traces: from light bruises to wounding cuts on bare buttocks.
  • Chain – A series of metal rings or links fitted together to make a flexible ligament. An essential part of equipment for chain bondage, used along with keyed-alike padlocks.
  • Collar – In BDSM, collar is a standard piece of equipment of any material (though mostly leather, rubber and metal) placed around the neck of the submissive person. It also features metal D-rings enabling attachment of a leash. Collars are widely used in role-playing games involving humiliation and pet-like control , especially when accompanied by a leash. By wearing a collar, person states her/his submissiveness or shows that s/he is under control of a dominant partner. Variations include posture collars such as neck and mouth corsets, which are used for intense breathplay.
  • Corporal Punishment – An intentional infliction of pain as a punishment for undesirable behaviour or attitude, or as a penalty for offence, or for disciplinary purposes of a submissive person. It usually refers to methodically striking the submissive person with an implement such as oen bare hand, various types of whips, canes, paddles and other BDSM equipment. Also, different types of submissive’s anatomy may be targeted, most common being: buttocks (spanking), back of the thighs and calves (may leave severe scars and bruises), palms and soles of the feet.
  • Corset – A highly fetishized garment worn to mold the torso into a very feminine shape for aesthetic purposes. Although women are more common wearers, men are also known to wear corsets. Unlike tops created in fashion industry that mimic its design, genuine corset is made by the corsetmaker and should be individually fitted. Practice of wearing a tightly laced corset for a prolonged period of time in order to significantly reduce waist size is called tightlacing. In BDSM, submissive may be forced to wear a tightlaced corset, which restrains normal movement to its wearer. However, many dominants also prefer wearing corsets because of their armored structure and commanding appearance.
  • Crop – A type of BDSM implement used for corporal punishment. Crops come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but mostl common is a short type of whip without a lash, also known as riding crop. Thicker part of the rod represents crop’s handle while a thin flexible tress such as leather tongue is intended to make contact with submissive’s anatomy, mostly buttocks.
  • Crucifixion – In BDSM, it’s a practice consisting of tying or chaining a submissive person to a large X- cross, also known as St. Andrew’s Cross. The X-cross usually provides restraining points for wrists, ankles and waist. Submissive person may be restrained to the cross with either back or front facing the cross. Facing the cross is a position for whipping, whereas back to the cross is generally better position for sexual teasing. When fully restrained to the cross, submissive person is in a standing spreadeagle position.
  • Discipline – Generally refers to usage of systematic instruction on submissive person (disciple) and includes acts that can be inflicted on controlee without his/her liking. To ensure instructions are carried out, dominant may enforce order through punishment. That punishment may be painful physically (in case of corporal punishment) or psychologically humiliating. It can also imply loss of privileges, orders to fulfill given tasks or threat of further punishment in case task isn’t done properly.
  • Dom – An abbreviation for dominant man who practices domination with submissive female or male partners.
  • Domination – In BDSM context, it’s a state of having power or control over submissives with their consent. Being dominant implies respecting set of behaviors, customs and rituals; and submitting other person in an erotic episode called “scene” or as a lifestyle arrangement. It can be conducted without physical contact through telephone, email or other messaging system, though in other cases it can be intensely physical. Taking superior position in a consensual power exchange also means taking responsibility for physical and mental state of a submitted person.
  • Dungeon – A dungeon is any space set aside and equiped for BDSM activities. As opposed to private dungeons that are set in residential spare rooms or basements, public dungeons are open to the public as a part of a nightclub or on a membership basis. Professional dominants and dominatrices often maintain their own dungeon, which is commonly equipped with attachments for shackles and cuffs, and other type of BDSM furniture such as spanking benches and cages.
  • Edge Play – Term refering to sexual activities that are considered to be pushing the traditional view on safe, sane and consensual creed. Edge play is dangerous and may contain risk of permanent harm, spreading diseases (cutting, bloodplay) or even death, as from breathplay or gunplay. Constitution of edge play varies with persons involved, so the definition is fairly subjective.
  • Electricity Play – Sexual practice consisting of nerve stimulation via low-frequency electrical stimulation. To achieve such stimulation, power source (such as TENS, EMS or violet wands) adapted for purpose of sexual stimulation is used. Areas targeted are most commonly genitals. Respecting safety aspects is essential, since abuse of electric toys can cause tissue damage or even death.
  • Femdom – Compound abbrevation for female dominance. It refers to BDSM scenes or relationships in which female is the dominant partner. Activites exercised in a femdom relationship may be gender-neutral (corporal punishment, tease and denial etc.) or imply gender role reversal when practiced with a male submissive partner (strap-on pentration). It is considered that practice of femdom stems directly from feminism and its tendencies towards female dominated society.
  • Fetish – Any object, situation or body part that brings sexual arousal, but is not conventionally viewed as sexual in nature. Even when including a partner, sexual acts involving fetishes are usually objectified. Body parts may also be subject of sexual fetishes, most commonly feet, genitalia or breasts. It is interesting that most of the literature regarding fetishism is in reference to heterosexual men having fetish on highly feminine items such as lingerie, hosiery, high heels, etc.
  • Foot Fetish – Strongly marked sexual interest in feet or specific footwear. Most widespread type of fetishism that includes body parts that are otherwise non-sexual. Points of attraction for foot fetishists are mostly size and shape of the foot and toes, pedicure treatments, jewelry such as toe rings and ankle bracelets, odor and any form of sensory contact like licking, sucking, teasing, foot jobs or rough trampling.
  • Gag – A restraining part of BDSM equipment designed to prevent speech and stop the gagged subject from calling for help. It’s usually done by partially/completely covering mouth in attempt to stop tongue, jaw or lips move in normal way. Gag also carries connotations of control and humiliation, so it may be used as a form of punishment for the wearer. Effectiveness of a gag reflects its potential hazard and it involves a certain risk of asphyxia, so gagged subjects shouldn’t be left alone. Some of the most common types are: ball gag, bit gag (similar to one used in bridle for a horse), spider gag, harness and penis gag, inflatable etc.
  • HOM (Hand Over Mouth) – Abbrevation for hand over mouth, which is a practice of using hands to cover mouth and nose as to prevent normal breathing. The practice is especially enjoyed by submissives with a fetish for breathplay games, who derive sexual pleasure from having their breath controlled by dominants.
  • Handcuffs – Metal device that restrains submissive person by securing his/her wrists close together. They consist of two pieces connected with a chain, hinge or even a bar. Once around the wrists, hancuffs cannot be removed without the key, which makes hand movement and completion of harder tasks impossible.
  • Hogtie – Bondage method of binding limbs together and thus making tied subject immobile. Name derives from its past usage on pigs. In sexual bondage, submissive person is laid flat on the belly, with wrists and ankles tied together behind the person’s back. This is usually done with rope or metal restraints such as chains or handcuffs.
  • Humiliation – In BDSM, term describes consensual use of verbal and physical degrading in a sexual content, performed in a public or private surrounding. Humiliation doesn’t need to be sexual itself, but it does imply sexual arousal that person gets from being humiliated or by humiliating another. Not to be confused with dominance, as the devotee doesn’t necessarilly enjoy being controlled or ordered about. There are many basic or complex scenarios that may include sexual humiliation and they usually consist of verbal and tangible aspects.
  • Kinky – Refers to playful and intelligent usage of sexual concepts in an overtly expressive form. Showing interest for deviant or even bizarre tastes and going beyond conventional sexual practices. People and prospective partners with kinky interests may communicate through characteristic expressions such as gesture, dress and encouraging behavior.
  • Latex – Highly appreciated material among fetishists used in production of many types of clothing. Latex outfits are commonly worn in fetish clubs and they tend to be skin-tight, producing a characteristic second skin feel. Leotards, catsuits, stockings and gloves are highly popular latex garments, just like specialist fetishistic items such as hoods or gasmasks. Material itself varies in thickness, but is commonly thin and therefore apt to easily tear. To reduce possibility of tearing, wearer may use talc or lube to decrease high friction against dry skin. Latex is naturally transclucent and although “classic” colour for fetishistic garments is black, it can be dyed any colour.
  • Leather – Also very popular fetishistic material created through tanning of animals’ skins and hides. In BDSM context, wearing leather garments may be a way to overtly declare participation in kinky lifestyle, as opposed to mainstream sexual cultures. Leather culture is most visible in BDSM and gay communities. For others, leather may represent erotic fashion that reflects appropriation of sexual power or heightened masculinity.
  • Masochism – Term deriving from author Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. A type of deviant sexual behaviour characterized by deriving pleasure from being subjected to pain or humiliation. Often interrelated with sadism, consensual masochistic practices are common in BDSM. Although there are many reasons why a masochist would find pain enjoyable, most psychologists claim that taking on role of helplessness offers a form of therapeutic escape from life stresses, responsibility or guilt.
  • Master – A title of respect some people use to refer to dominant partner or “owner in a Master/slave relationship. It is usually written with a capital letter, since it is an honorific for a dominant person. Usage of this term does not imply any specific skills, expertise or formal training. Some people simply enjoy using the term for its connotations with servitude and submission, while others like the formal mode of address.
  • Mistress – A honorific for a woman who takes on dominant role in a BDSM relationship or during a consensual session. A synonym for Dominatrix, Domme or maîtresse.
  • Mummification – A sexual bondage practice consisting of restraining a submissive person’s body in a non-damaging way by wrapping it head to toe in materials such as saran wrap, rubber strips, duct tape, plaster bandages, bodybags or straitjackets. Final result is a completely immobilized person resembling to Egyptian mummy, which can then be left in a state of sensory deprivation for a certain time or exposed to sensory stimulation. Mummification should be done on arms and torso first, so the submissive can stand steadily and later safely lowered. Prolonged mummification may cause sweating or dehydration, especially when done with materials like latex or saran wrap.
  • OTK (Over The Knee) – An abbreviation for “over the knee”, which is one of the numerous spanking poses. When a submissive is placed in this pose, his/her buttocks are fully exposed and available to dominant person for spanking.
  • PVC – A widely used material that found its place in fetishistic wardrobe due to its sheen, availability and low price. It is also waterproof and commonly used in jackets, coats and bags. Unlike leather and latex, PVC isn’t highly appreciated among fetishists but it is widespread among goth, punk and other alternative scenes.
  • Paddle – A widespread BDSM tool designed for spanking, specifically buttocks. Paddle is a wooden or leather implement with a long, flat face and narrow handle. Due to its large surface, inflexibility and flatness, paddle cannot cause stripes like a cane or a whip, but it may cause bruises.
  • Pain – An unpleasant feeling commonly consisting of negative affect and aversity, also with specific duration, location, intensity and distinctive quality. Pain threshold completely depends on person’s capacity and varies individually. Also, pain is almost always described as unpleasant. However, when pain turns to source of sexual pleasure involving stimulation of an erogenous zone, it’s called algolagnia. Term refers to sexual tendency distinct from BDSM, because unlike masochism which is a psychological reaction, algolagnia remains strictly physical reaction caused by motor functions.
  • Perverse – In a sexual context, perverse is opposite of what is generally considered to be normal and non-deviant sexual behavior. Orthodox people use this term to describe controversial practices that seem abnormal and repulsive to them. Of course, concept of perversion is subjective and dependable on society, culture, individual preferences etc. Psychologists, however, prefer to use the word paraphilia.
  • Rope – Length of braided or twisted fibers put together to improve strength for pulling and tying. Rope is thicker and therefore stronger than similarly constructed string, cord or line. It’s usually made of natural fibers such as hemp, cotton or linen. Rope can endure heavy weight thanks to its great tensile strength, so it is most popular implement used for erotic bondage.
  • Sadism – Term derived from the author Marquis De Sade, describing derivation of pleasure as a result of inflicting pain. Unlike nonsexual sadists, persons enjoying sadistic practices in BDSM are exercising it for (in)direct sexual pleasure. For instance, a sadist may enjoy the feeling of power and control that comes from his/her dominant role or receive indirect pleasure from watching a masochist suffer. However, psychologists still debate on what connects these emotional experiences to sexual gratification.
  • Slave – A specific type of a submissive with no exact definition due to ongoing debates in BDSM community regarding whether slave is a state of ownership or identity. Some slaves are self-defined, looking for sexual role play, while the others are searching for long-term, highly committed lifestyle arrangement.
  • Slavery – Type of BDSM relationship in which the submissive individual gives ultimate authority over them to dominant. Also known as total power exchange, slavery is a relationship usually entered into on a consensual basis, unlike historical or modern non-consensual slavery. It does not require any specific acts, although sexual aspect is almost always present. Slaves usually wear a collar, get included in a slave register, adopt a name chosen by the owner and even sign slave contract with explicit details regarding future slavery (no legal weight!). Participants involved may be of any gender or sexual orientation.
  • Smothering – A type of breath play that consists of air deprivation by covering mouth or nose with a hand, plastic bag or a pillow, for instance. It can be either complete or partial, latter allowing person to inhale some air, though less than under normal circumstances. Due to possible risks of permanent damage or even death, safety precautions must be met. The most common acceptance of the word “smother” is actually for facesitting in Femdom.
  • Spanking – A type of corporal punishment consisted of striking submissive’s buttocks with an open palm or other implements, for purpose of sexual gratification. Spanking may also be called paddling, caning, whipping etc., depending on the sort of implement used. Erotic spanking is usually combined with other sexual activities, for instance bondage, to enhance the feeling of helplessness and submissiveness.
  • Straitjacket – A restrictive garment in the shape of a jacket with overlong sleeves that can be tied to the back of the wearer, so that arms are tied tightly to the chest, with little possibility of movement. Due to their effectiveness as a restraint, they are very popular item in bondage games. Usually straitjackets are made from canvas or strong material called duck cloth, but fetishistic types are also available in PVC or leather. Most of them feature a crotch-strap whose role is to prevent the jacket from being pulled up and off. Straitjackets intended for bondage games also have additional restraining like wrist straps, lockable fastenings or possibility to cross the arms at the back.
  • Submission – Includes set of behaviors, customs and rituals that have a goal of giving control to another person (Dominant) in an erotic session or a lifestyle arrangement. Submissive person derives sexual pleasure or arousal from being dominated. Physical contact is not necessary and may vary from none to intense, which may then traverse to sadomasochism. Relationships with dominants also vary in the number of partners involved (monogamous or poly-amorous), type of scene (erotic, BDSM) etc. Consent, however, is vital for any type of scene between the submissive and dominant to begin.
  • Submissive – In a BDSM relationship, submissive partner is the one who consents to being dominated by another person and respecting set of behaviors/rules that may include obedience, tameness, compliance etc. Submissiveness may also imply showing respect and deference, completion of various tasks gives by a dominant etc. Submissive’s consent is necessary for any BDSM activities to take place and consent may be withdrawn at any time.
  • Suspension – A type of sexual bondage where a tied person is hung from one or more overhead suspension points. There is a partial and full suspension. When a person’s weight is only partially held by suspension ropes, cables or chains, than it’s partial suspension. On the other hand, when a person is completely supported by suspension ropes without touching the ground, it’s full suspension. Latter requires both skills of the binder and endurance of a tied person. Main effect of suspension is to induce the sense of vulnerability and inescapability, but one must consider safety risks such as falling, nerve compression, fainting .
  • Tit Torture – Includes erotic BDSM activities that consist of inflicting pain to breasts, nipples and areola in order to achieve sexual gratification. It is often used in combination with breast bondage, which restraints the area to be tortured. Methods of tit torture include: flagellation, clamping, electricity, abrasion, wax, piercing, suction, pinching, biting, chemical play etc.
  • Torture – In BDSM context, term refers to any act of intentional infliction of pain and suffering for the purpose of sadistic gratification or punishment. Torture doesn’t necessarily imply physical contact, since it can also be psychological. Throughout history, many types of physical torture have been developed, such as beating (either with bare hand or with sophisticated devices), restraint in awkward or damaging positions, extremes of hot and cold, sensory and sleep deprivation etc. Though the effects of psychological torture are not immediately visible, it may be equally damaging to the submissive person. Such examples include intentional use of extreme stressors and situations such as mock execution, violation of sexual taboos or extended solitary confinement. If not practiced carefully and with safety, torture may lead to severe physical and mental health problems.
  • Trample – To harshly beat down person with bare or covered feet so as to bruise and crush. Submissive persons with a trampling fetish may enjoy the feeling of humiliation, helplessness or absolute loss of control. In a milder version that doesn’t leave bruises or injuries behind, it could be connected to foot fetish and fascination with feet in general.
  • Wax – Generally refers to beeswax or another substance with similar properties. In BDSM, it is used for sensual play involving warm or hot wax being dripped onto a submissive person’s naked skin. Depending on the type of candles and its different crock pot temperatures, various effects are achieved. However, heat tolerance is individual and may change if the wax is used on a different body parts. It is very important to be cautios around nipple and genital area, since wax can cause serious burns if used inappropriately. Also, wax is difficult to wash out of clothes and bed linen.
  • Whip – Describes two basic tool types: crop and bullwhip. Crop is long, thin and usually flexible, with a small piece of leather or cord on the end, while bullwhip refers to a long tapered device of single-strand or pleated material such as leather. Of course, these two traditional types have many versions, which are also used for corporal punishment, torture or as means of control. Whips leave traces that range from thin red stripes to severe skin laceration, depending on the whip and the strength of a hit.
  • Whipping – Also known as flagellation or flogging, it is an act of methodical beating of human body with implements such as rods, crops, floggers etc. It is typically imposed on a submissive person as a corporal punishment or willingly in a sadomasochistic context.
  • Worship – In BDSM context it means giving worth to someone/something, most often to a dominant person. A common example is body worship, which is any practice of reverence towards a part of another person’s body (feet, genitalia, breasts, etc.). To enhance the feeling of inferiority, a sub generally licks, sucks and kisses the dominant’s body parts. Encouragement may be provided, though it is more common for the dominant party to passively receive worship.
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