Last update Thu Apr 6, 2017
Want to copy this page? See the copyright information here.
This glossary is a guide to many of the terms you might hear in the BDSM community. Not everyone who is involved with BDSM is into everything listed here; many of the practices described in the Glossary are quite rare. If you see something described in here which isn't to your tastes, it doesn't mean that you aren't or can't be interested in BDSM.
The definitions given here reflect the usage I am most familiar with. Some terms contain commentary; anything following the word Commentary indicates my own views on a particular subject, and should not be assumed to be part of the formal definition.
Links in the definitions will take you to other definitions on this page unless the links are in »angle quotes«, in which case they will take you off this page.
Comments or additions? Hit me!
24/7: Colloquial Of or related to a total power exchange relationship.
A-FRAME: A type of bondage furniture consisting of an upright triangle, usually made of wood and typically about seven to eight feet tall, sometimes with cross slats. A person can be bound to the frame with wrists together, arms above the head and affixed to the pinnacle of the triangle, and ankles bound to the base of the triangle with legs apart.
ABASIOPHILIA: Psychology Sexual attraction to people in or who use wheelchairs, casts, braces, or other orthopedic fixtures.
ABRASION: Any form of sensation play involving stroking or brushing the skin with rough, textured objects such as sandpaper, emery boards, and the like.
ABLUTOPHILIA: Sexual arousal from showering or bathing.
ABSOLUTE POWER EXCHANGE (APE): See total power exchange. Usage: Less common than TPE.
ADULT BABY: Colloquial A person who engages in infantilism in the role of a very young child or infant.
AFTERCARE: A period of time after intense BDSM activity in which the dominant partner cares for the submissive partner. Commentary: Some BDSM activities are physically challenging, psychologically intense, or both. After engaging in such activities, the submissive partner may need a safe psychological space to unwind and recover. Aftercare is the process of providing this safe space.
AGALMATOPHILIA: Sexual attraction to or arousal from statues, dolls, or other representations of the human form.
AGE PLAY: A form of role play in which a participant assumes the role of someone of a different age. Typically, the submissive partner will assume the role of a very young (and hence powerless) child. See related adult baby, infantalism. Commentary: One common misperception about age play is that it appeals to pedophiles or is intended to simulate pedophilia. For those who engage in this activity, it is the powerlessness aspect of childhood and the inherent power imbalance between an adult and a child, rather than the childhood itself, that is appealing.
AGONOPHILIA: Psychology; see resistance play.
AGORAPHILIA: Psychology Sexual arousal from sex in public places. Does not necessarily involve exhibitionism; the excitement may come from the fear of being caught, rather than from being observed in a sex act.
ALPHA SUB: Colloquial In a relationship in which one dominant has more than one submissive, the submissive accorded the greatest power or respect among all the submissives. See related polyamory: »polyamory«; polyamory: »primary/secondary«. Commentary Not all relationships which have more than one submissive include a hierarchy among the submissives; that is, not all such relationships have an alpha sub.
ANAL HOOK; also, BUTT HOOK: A smooth, blunt metal hook, typically about an inch thick and six inches long, with a small loop on one end. The shorter side of the hook is inserted into the anus, and a rope tied to the loop on the other end can be tied to an overhead fixture to force the wearer to kneel with his or her butt in the air, or can be secured to the wrists to bind the wearer's hands. Some anal hooks inclide a ball on the end that is inserted.
ANKLE CUFFS: Any cuffs (def. 1) specifically designed to be affixed to a person's ankles. Ankle cuffs are often made of leather, but may also be made of cloth, rope, metal, or even wood.
ARMBINDER: A restraint device consisting of a long sleeve into which both arms are placed, often fitted with laces or straps to hold the arms securely together. An armbinder may also include an integrated collar to prevent the wearer from withdrawing the arms. Also referred to as a single-glove or monoglove.
ARM TRAPS: A type of restraint, usually made of rigid metal bands, which are designed to go around the elbow and hold the arm in a bent position. When locked in place, they prevent the wearer from straightening his or her arms.
ASS PLAY; also, ARSE PLAY (British): Any form of sexual stimulation of the ass, including anal sex, anilingus, and the like.
AUCTION: See slave auction.
AUTO-EROTIC ASPHYXIA, also AUTO-EROTIC ASPHYXIATION: A specific form of breath control in which a person who is by himself or herself constricts his or her own breathing, often with a rope or similar implement, while masturbating. Commentary: Often considered among the most dangerous forms of edge play (def. 1). According to some estimates, between five hundred and a thousand people a year die in the United States doing this. It is almost impossible to do safely.
BALL BUSTING: Colloquial Any form of genitorture applied to the testicles, as by squeezing, impact, or tight binding.
BALL GAG: A gag consisting of a ball, usually made of rubber, which is attached to a strap. The ball is placed in the mouth and the strap is placed around the head to hold it securely in place.
BALL HOOD: A specific type of hood, often without openings for the eyes or ears and sometimes containing integrated bladders designed to be inflated with air to press the hood tightly against the head, used as a means of rendering a person unable to hear, see, or speak.
BALL PRESS; also, BALL CRUSHER: A device with two flat pieces, often made of wood, metal, or acrylic, that are placed on each side of the testicles, together with a screw mechanism which allows them to be tightened, compressing the testicles. Used as a form of cock and ball torture.
BALL STRETCHER: Any device that wraps around the scrotum and pulls down on it by means of weights or, sometimes, an elastic mechanism, sometimes used as a form of cock and ball torture.
BALL TIE: A specific form of bondage in which the person is bound in a seated position with the knees up, the head bent down over the knees, and the hands behind the back. Commentary: This posture quickly becomes fatiguing and should not be used for extended periods of time on people who are not accustomed to it.
BANDAGE SCISSORS: Specialized scissors, often used by emergency medical personnel, consisting of a pair of scissors with one sharp blade and one blunt blade with a rounded end. The blunt blade can be slid beneath bandages or anything else wrapped tightly around a limb without risk of cutting or injuring the person. Commentary: Often used in BDSM to remove a person from tight bondage or mummification very quickly in the event of an emergency. A sturdy pair of bandage scissors will make quick work of even thick rope; a person totally wrapped in rope can be freed within seconds with bandage scissors without injury.
BAT: A thin, flexible instrument used for striking, consisting of a rigid but flexible shaft wrapped or braided with leather or cloth, very similar to a crop but usually slightly shorter and with a wider leather striking tip.
BATHROOM CONTROL; also, BATHROOM DENIAL: A situation in which a submissive partner must ask a dominant partner for permission to use the bathroom, which may be granted or withheld by the dominant partner.
BDSM: A composite acronym for "B&D" (bondage & discipline); "D&S" (dominance & submission); and "S&M" (sadomasochism). Used to refer to any consensual activities or lifestyles between adults which include some or all of these things. The term "BDSM" is used in a general sense to describe any situation or practice which includes erotic power exchange, dominance and submission, pain play, bondage, sensation play, or anything related to these.
BEAR'S PAW: Gloves used for sensation play which have blunt metal spikes or dull hooks at the end of each fingertip.
BELTING: The practice of striking a person with a belt or with any long, narrow, belt-like strap.
BERKLEY HORSE: A type of bondage furniture consisting of a padded bench with integrated restraints and a pair of arms to which a person's legs can be affixed. A person is bent over the berkley horse and restrained in place; the berkley horse is designed so that it can be elevated, rotated, or moved into any position, and the arms to which the ankles are bound can be opened or closed. Etymology: The berkley horse was allegedly invented in 1828 by Theresa Berkley, a prodomme in London who specialized in flogging her clients.
BIMMY: See sennet whip.
BIRCH: An implement used for striking, consisting of a bundle of light, thin wooden rods, typically made of birch. Also, verb To strike with a birch.
BIT: See mouth bit.
BLACK SHEET PARTY: Colloquial An orgy or sex party at which BDSM activities take place.
BLADING: Colloquial; see knife play.
BLOOD PLAY; also, BLOOD SPORTS: Any activity involving drawing blood. Specific types of blood play include needle play and knife play, among others. Often considered edge play (def. 1). Commentary: This is a high-risk activity which may transmit HIV and other infectious diseases. Persons who engage in blood play should be aware of these risks and take appropriate precautions.
BODY BAG: A long, heavy bag, often shaped like a narrow sleeping bag and typically made of canvas, rubber, or latex, used to restrain a person very tightly. Sometimes includes integrated straps which wrap around the person within the bag. See related mummification.
BODY HARNESS: A harness consisting of a series of straps designed to be worn around the torso, which may optionally include a mechanism for locking the harness into place and may also include rings or other attachments for ropes, cuffs, or chastity belts.
BODY MODIFICATION: Any practice, including piercing, tattooing, branding, and the like, intended to modify, often permanently, the appearance of one's body.
BODY WORSHIP: Any practice or activity which involves venerating a person's body, often as an act of submission by a submissive partner. Body worship may involve actions such as kissing, massaging, bathing, sucking, or otherwise touching a person's body or part of it. Common areas of body worship include feet, breasts, hands, or genitals.
BOI: Colloquial 1. A person, usually biologically female and often boyish or "butch" in manner, appearance, or dress, who is submissive; commonly but not exclusively used in lesbian D/s relationships. 2. An effeminate man.
BOLERO STRAITJACKET: A specific type of straitjacket designed with an opening in the front to expose the wearer's breasts.
BONDAGE: Any practice involving tying or securing a person, as with ropes, cuffs, chains, or other restraints. Restraint bondage, the most common form of bondage, involves immobilizing a person, by tying or otherwise restraining him or her to an object or by binding his or her limbs together. Stimulation bondage is any form of tying in such a way that the subject is not immobilized and has freedom of motion, but the ropes or ties shift and move against the body, often in sensitive or erogenous areas; certain forms of shibari are stimulation bondage. A person in bondage is said to be bound. See also asymmetric bondage, predicament bondage, ball tie, breast bondage, bondage tape, box tie, cock bondage, device bondage, frog tie, hogtie, lacing (def. 4), self-bondage, strappado bondage, steel bondage, suspension, mummification, punishment tie. See related bondage belt, bondage bunny, bondage mitt, one-column tie, psychological bondage, rigger, spreader bar, spreadeagle, straitjacket, two-column tie.
BONDAGE BELT: A belt used to restrain a person, which consists of a heavy band of leather or a similar material which can be strapped or locked about the waist and which has several attachment points to which the subject's wrists may be bound.
BONDAGE BUNNY: Colloquial A person who enjoys being tied or bound. Usage: Often implies that the person described is not necessarily submissive or masochistic, but enjoys bondage because he or she takes pleasure from being restrained.
BONDAGE MITT; also, BONDAGE MITTEN: A fingerless mitten, often made of leather, canvas, heavy vinyl, PVC, or similar materials, which is placed over the hand and then fastened in place with an integrated buckling or locking cuff. The bondage mitt holds the hand flat or balled up, and prevents the wearer from being able to pick things up or otherwise make use of his or her hands.
BONDAGE TAPE: A vinyl tape material, available in many colors, which sticks only to itself but not to other materials such as skin or clothing, making it ideal for bondage.
BOOTBLACKING: Polishing and spit-shining a pair of boots, sometimes as a gesture of submission, sometimes as a part of military-style uniform play, sometimes as part of boot worship, and sometimes to mark the beginning of a scene (def. 1). Commentary: In some corners of the old leather community, bootblacking was used as part of a ritual between a dominant and a submissive; the submissive partner would shine the dominant's boots while the dominant sat above the submissive.
BOOT WORSHIP: A specific type of shoe fetishism centered around boots, in which the submissive partner may kiss, lick, polish, or otherwise adulate the dominant's boots. Often, but not always, includes some elements of uniform play. See related bootblacking.
BOTTOM: A person who receives spankings, floggings, or other forms of stimulation in situations which specifically exclude power exchange. For example, a masochist may be interested in receiving some kind of stimulation but may not be interested in giving up psychological control; whereas a submissive has given up authority and may receive some kind of stimulation on the instruction of a dominant, a bottom does not give up authority and may control exactly how, under what circumstances, and to what degree he or she receives some form of stimulation. Contrast top; see related submissive.
BOTTOM DROP: Colloquial A sudden, abrupt feeling of depression, unhappiness, or similar negative emotion in a submissive which may occasionally occur immediately after a period of BDSM activity. May include feelings of shame or guilt, especially if the submissive has traditional ideas about relationship or socially appropriate behavior; after a period of intense pain play, bottom drop may be related to the reduction of levels of endorphins in the brain as well.
BOTTOM'S DISEASE: Colloquial The tendency for some people who identify as submissive to behave as if everyone who identifies as dominant is dominant to them, for example by large demonstrations of obsequiousness even if there is no negotiated relationship between them.
BOX TIE: A specific form of bondage in which a person brings his or her arms together and grips each forearm with the opposite hand, and then ropes are brought around the forearms to tie them together. Often combined with ropes between the upper arms to prevent the bound person from slipping his or her arms sideways out of the tie.
BRANDING: Body modification by the use of a heated metal implement to brand a person's skin, leaving a permanent mark in the form of a scar. Occasionally done as a way for a dominant to "mark" his or her submissive.
BRANK; also, BRANKS: Archaic; see scold's bridle.
BREAST TORTURE: Pain play involving the breasts and/or nipples.
BREATH CONTROL: Any practice in which a person's breathing is constricted or interrupted, as with a hand or ligature around the throat or with a covering over the face, for the purpose of increasing sexual arousal or sexual climax. Often considered an extremely dangerous form of edge play (def. 1), as it can and often does lead to permanent injury or death. Also referred to as asphyxia, erotic asphyxiation, gasping. See related auto-erotic asphyxia.
BREEDING FETISH; also, IMPREGNATION FETISH: A type of sexual expression centered around a fixtion on impregnating a woman, which may also include fixation on other things normally associated with pregnancy or childbirth, such as lactation or the physical changes in the body that accompany pregnancy.
BUCK HAMMER: A medical instrument used to test reflexes and neurological function, consisting of a metal handle with two cylendrical, rubber-tipped metal hammerheads. Typically, one or both hammerheads can be detached and replaced with a short metal spike or needle-like attachment, or with a short, soft brush, both of which can be used to test sensation and neurological function in the skin. Sometimes used for percussion or sensation play.
BULLWHIP: A type of singletail consisting of a woven or braided leather whip, usually longer than 4' and sometimes 6' long or more, with a short rigid handle. Commentary: Requires extensive practice and great skill to use safely.
BUKKAKE: (from the Japanese , "to splash water.") A sexual practice, originating in Japan, in which a very large number of men masturbate and ejaculate onto a person.
BUTT PLUG: A sex toy intended for anal stimulation, consisting of a flared dildo, usually quite short, with a wide base, designed to remain securely in the anus until removed.
BUTTERFLY CHAIR: A chair which contains two horizontal planks to which the legs can be secured, affixed to a pivot such that the legs of the secured person can be spread apart.
BUTTERFLY GAG: A specific type of inflatable gag consisting of a central oblong placed in the mouth with two wings that inflate with air, filling the mouth and preventing easy removal.
CABLE LOOP; also, CABLE SLAPPER: An implement used for striking, consisting of a loop or occasionally two loops of thick wire, coated with plastic, rubber, or leather, and affixed to a handle. A cable loop can be used much like a crop or similar implement, and produces intense sensations.
CABLE TIE; also, CABLE CUFF, PLASTICUFF, ZIP TIE: A type of cuff consisting of a thin plastic strip with a row of teeth in its surface, and a small ratchet on one end. The end of the cable tie can be placed through the ratchet to form a loop which can be pulled tight but not loosened again. Sometimes used by police in favor of handcuffs.
CANE: A thin, flexible instrument used to strike a person. Canes are often made of rattan or a similar material, but may be made of other types of wood or even of flexible plastic such as polycarbonate. They are quite painful, often leaving marked welts. Also, verb to strike with a cane.
CAPTAIN'S DAUGHTER: Archaic, colloquial; see cat o' nine tails. Etymology: The cat o' nine tails was used as an implement of discipline aboard British Navy sailing ships beginning in the late 1600s. The term "captain's daughter" was a slang term for the cat o' nine tails popular among sailors, likely because it could not be used without the captain's express authorization.
CARABINER: Any device used to connect two chains or ropes together, often in the form of a D-shaped metal ring with a spring-loaded lever which can open the ring. See related panic snap. Commentary: Carabiners are not usually appropriate for suspension, as they cannot easily be removed if the suspended person's full weight is bearing down on them.
CAST BONDAGE: Bondage using plaster casts or plaster tape to immobilize a person.
CAT: Colloquial; from cat o' nine tails: A generic term for any flogger whose lashes are braided or knotted, regardless of the number of lashes. Commentary: Knotting or braiding the lashes makes the flogger considerably more painful.
CAT O' NINE TAILS: A specific type of flogger consisting of a handle, often made of wood and wrapped with cloth, with nine lashes affixed to it. The lashes are usually made of rope or of leather cords, and are braided or knotted. Generally more painful than many other types of floggers. The cat o' nine tails was commonly used aboard British Navy sailing ships beginning in the 17th century. Commentary: The original cat o' nine tails was made by unbraiding a section of the rope used aboard British sailing ships. Each rope was made of three sections twisted together, each section of which consisted of three cords twisted together, so the rope when untwisted had nine tails.
CATHERINE'S WHEEL: A large, upright wheel, usually made of wood, to which a person may be bound and then rotated to any position.
CATHETER: Any thin, flexible tube designed to be inserted in the urethra. See related sound.
CAT'S PAW: See vampire gloves.
CBT: see cock and ball torture.
CILICE: 1. A garment, often made of coarse animal hair or sackcloth, worn under clothing during medieval times as a form of religious atonement. 2. Any garment or article designed to be painful to wear, often featuring wire or spikes that press into the skin, worn during BDSM play.
CILICE BELT: A spiked or barbed metal implement, often designed as a linked series of metal loops with spikes on each loop, designed to be worn around the waist, thigh, or neck and to cause discomfort to the wearer.
CHASTITY; also, CHASTITY PLAY, ENFORCED CHASTITY: The practice of disallowing any form of sexual release or sexual activity, sometimes imposed on a submissive by a dominant. Some forms of imposed chastity include the use of locking devices such as chastity belts to prevent direct sexual stimulation of the genitals.
CHASTITY BELT: Any device intended to prohibit contact with or stimulation of the genitals. Female chastity belts often take the form of a lockable harness which passes between the legs and around the waist; male chastity belts may include a locking enclosure into which the penis is placed.
CHASTITY PIERCING: Any body piercing intended to prevent sexual intercourse; as, piercings along the labia which can be locked together to prevent penetration, or a piercing of the foreskin which can be used to pull the foreskin over the head of the penis and lock it in place.
CHEMICAL PLAY: Any form of sensation play involving the use of mild irritants such as peppermint oil, menthol, Tabasco sauce, and the like to create sensation.
CHDW: (Acronym) Colloquial Clueless Horny Dom Wannabe. A derisive term for a person who proclaims himself or herself a dominant, but who has little or no real-world experience, and/or behaves with reckless disregard for the needs or safety of the submissive. Pronounced "chudwa." Usage: Invariably indicates disdain for the person so named. Etymology: Originated on the now-defunct Usenet newsgroup alt.sex.bondage.
CICATRIZATION: 1. Formally, medicine The process of wound closure by means of scar tissue formation. 2. See scarification.
CINCHER; also, RIBBON CORSET, WAIST CORSET: A specific type of corset which is shorter than a full corset and wraps around the wearer's waist.
CINCH: 1. To wear a cincher, often very tightly and sometimes as a form of body modification. 2. To tie with rope by making several windings of rope around two limbs, or around a limb and a fixed object, then passing a loop of rope around the windings. The loop of rope is used to regulate the tightness of the binding. 3. To tie a cinch knot.
CLEAVE GAG: A type of gag, usually made of cloth, that is pulled tightly between the wearer's teeth and tied behind the head. The cleave gag forces the mouth partway open and is quite effective in preventing speech.
CLIT CLIP, also, CLIT JEWELRY: A piece of jewelry, often in the form of a springy clip, designed to be affixed to the clitoris, providing constant clitoral stimulation for as long as it is worn. Frequently includes a ball, crystal, gemstone, or other decorative element which rests directly on the clitoris while it is worn, providing additional stimulation.
CLOVER CLAMP: A specific type of nipple clamp consisting of a clamp with a lever mechanism to which a chain or cord is affixed in such a way that pulling on the chain or cord increases pressure on the clamp.
COCK AND BALL TORTURE (CBT): Any of a number of different practices involving pain play of the penis and testicles, including such practices as binding, compressing, striking, or stretching the penis or testicles. See related parachute.
COCK BOARD: A flat piece of wood or metal with a hole in it which can be placed over the hips of a man lying on his back, so that his penis extends through the hole. It usually contains a locking mechanism and/or tie-down points that enable tying, strapping, or locking the penis in place as a form of cock bondage or for cock and ball torture.
COCK RING: A ring (often made of metal or rubber) or strap designed to be affixed around the base of an erect penis. The ring allows blood to flow into the penis but constricts the penis sufficiently to prevent blood from flowing out, preventing the penis from becoming flaccid once it is erect.
CO-DOM: 1. A person who acts in conjunction with or as an assistant to a dominant during a specific scene. 2. A person who shares a submissive with another dominant, often in the context of a »polyamorous« relationship. Also, verb to act in concert with another dominant.
COFFIN: An item of furniture consisting of a long, narrow box, sometimes shaped like a conventional coffin, padded on the inside and usually featuring built-in restraints, a lockable lid, or both. The lid of a coffin typically features small openings or flaps at the level of the face, breasts, and genitals, allowing people outside the coffin to reach in and stimulate the person inside, or to allow the person inside to perform oral sex on those outside.
COLLAR: An item worn around the neck, sometimes equipped with a locking device to prevent its removal, and often worn as a symbol of submission. Also, verb To put a collar on, often as part of a ceremony indicating a committed relationship between a dominant and a submissive. See also corset collar, drop collar, posture collar, training collar, wolf collar; see related collaring ceremony. Commentary: Some people outside the BDSM community associate collars with animals or pets, and erroneously believe that a collar is a sign of humiliation or is used to dehumanize a submissive; however, the symbolic value of a collar within the BDSM community is completely different.
COLLARING CEREMONY: A formal ceremony celebrating or symbolizing a commitment between a dominant and a submissive, typically during which a collar is placed around the submissive's neck. Commentary: There is no single type of collaring ceremony, and not all people in committed relationships in the BDSM community practice collaring ceremonies. A collaring ceremony in the BDSM community has many of the same kinds of social significance as something like a marriage or a wedding; often, the process of collaring is used to indicate a committed long-term relationship, particularly in TPE relationships. A submissive who has participated in such a ceremony is often said to be "collared to" his or her dominant. A collar in this context has symbolic value not unlike that of, say, a wedding ring. Collaring ceremonies may be public or private, and may include whatever elements the people involved find appropriate. Collaring ceremonies may or may not imply a monogamous relationship; one dominant may have more than one collared submissive, but it is extremely uncommon for one submissive to be collared to more than one dominant. A collaring ceremony is sometimes used to mark the formal beginning of a TPE relationship.
CONSENT: Affirmative permission, assent, or approval. In a BDSM context, "consent" is an affirmative assent to engage in a particular activity, freely given without coercion or distress. Informed consent: Consent freely given with full and prior knowledge of the conditions and potential consequences of the assent. Also, verb To give affirmative permission to engage in an activity. Commentary: Consent is one of the hallmarks of BDSM, distinguishing it from abusive activities which may appear superficially similar. Consent is based on the active, willing participation of everyone involved in a particular activity; for example, if two people are engaged in something like pain play, a key defining characteristic which differentiates this play from physical abuse is that all the people involved know exactly what they're doing, want to be there, and give specific assent to the activities in question, whereas the victim of abuse does not specifically and affirmatively assent to the abuse. Consent is valid and meaningful only if it is informed, meaning that all the participants have full knowledge of the activities to which they are consenting (including but not limited to the circumstances under which the activity will take place and the possible risks, if any, inherent in the activity); if it is uncoerced, meaning that the participants give the consent freely without threat, force, or intimidation; and if the people involved give that consent from a condition of sound mind, meaning their judgement in not impaired by drugs, disease, or any other condition which might cloud or distort their ability to make reasonable, rational decisions.
CONSENSUAL NON-CONSENT: Any situation in which one person knowingly and voluntarily gives up the ability to prevent another person from doing whatever he or she wants; as, for example, deliberately engaging in activities which the submissive may be physically prevented from resisting and does not have a safe word. Some forms of rape play are consensual non-consent. Commentary: Consensual non-consent is still consent. A person who gives consent in this way is giving affirmative assent to engage in an activity that he or she will not be able to stop in the middle; it can be thought of as consenting to an activity in such a way that the consent may not be revoked.
CONTRACT: A mutually negotiated, written agreement between a dominant and a submissive, outlining the submissive's limits, the activities the participants wish to explore, and the like. Commentary: BDSM contracts are not legally valid or enforceable, but are useful tools for defining what activities are and are not acceptable and in what contexts.
CORPORAL PUNISHMENT: Any activity involving disciplining a person through physical means, as by spanking.
CORSET: An article of clothing, often made of leather, PVC, or vinyl and sometimes including strips of rigid "boning," which is tightly laced and designed to narrow the waist and lift the breasts, creating an "hourglass" figure. See related corsetry.
CORSET COLLAR: A specific type of posture collar, typically made of leather, vinyl, PVC, or similar material and sometimes containing rigid inserts or rigid metal sides, which is designed to lace up the front, back, or sides rather than buckling or locking closed.
CORSET PIERCING: A form of body modification in which multiple rows of rings are placed through a person's skin, then laced together with a silk cord or similar tie. Corset piercings can be done on the back, down the sides, or even on the labia, tying it closed. The piercings themselves may be temporary or permanent.
CORSETRY: The practice of wearing a corset, often laced extremely tightly, and sometimes constraining motion, as a form of body modification or for the purpose of control. See related lacing (def. 1).
CRACKER: 1. A short piece of cord on the end of a whip, which makes a loud cracking sound as the whip is snapped. 2. Archaic, colloquial One who wields a whip. Commentary: The colloquial term "cracker" when used to describe a person from the rural southern United States originates with def. 2.
CRASH: Colloquial An abrupt feeling of depression or unhappiness immediately following the end of a BDSM activity. This feeling may be triggered by a number of different factors, including feelings of guilt (especially among people raised with traditional ideas about sex and relationships), confusion, unexpected psychological response to the activities, or even physiological processes such as a drop in the levels of endorphins. See related top drop, bottom drop.
CROP, also RIDING CROP: A thin, flexible instrument used for striking, consisting of a rigid but flexible shaft wrapped with leather or a similar material, with a handle at one end and often with a small leather loop at the other. Also, verb to strike with a crop.
CROSS CUFFS: A specific type of cuffs which hold the wrists together in a crossed position.
CROSS-ORIENTATION PLAY: See orientation play.
CROTCH ROPE: See sukaranbo.
CUCKOLD: One whose partner practices cuckoldry. Usage: Most often refers to a man whose partner practices cuckoldry by having sex with other partners, though occasionally used to describe women as well. For the female equivalent, see cuckquean.
CUCKOLDRY: The practice by which a dominant takes one or more sexual partners other than his or her submissive, for the purpose of humiliating the submissive. Commentary: Cuckoldry is distinct from the practice of »polyamory« in the sense that it is done in a context where the submissive has no direct control over the dominant's other partners, and the primary purpose is to humiliate the submissive. Those who are aroused by cuckoldry are most often attracted to the humiliation and powerlessness aspects of it. The majority of the people who practice cuckoldry as a sexual fetish are women, who humiliate their male partners by having sex with other men.
CUCKQUEAN: One whose partner practices cuckoldry. Usage: Always refers to a woman whose partner has sex with other people.
CUFF: 1. Any restraint which has a band or band-like structure, which may be made of metal or of a flexible material such as canvas or leather, intended to be strapped or locked around an extremity such as a wrist or ankle for the purpose of securing or immobilizing it. 2. Archaic the fist. Also, verb 1. To restrain or immobilize by means of a cuff or cuffs. 2. To strike a rapid blow, as with the hand. 3. Archaic: Cuff with, to engage in a fistfight with.
CUPPING: A type of sensation play involving the use of small glass or plastic cups which are placed over the skin and then evacuated to create a vacuum, and hence suction. Some cups have an integrated valve to which a hand-operated vacuum pump can be attached; in other cases, the vacuum is created by dropping a flaming cotton ball, usually soaked in alcohol, into the cup and then placing the cup over the skin in such a way as to extinguish the flame. The vacuum is created by the contraction of the cooling air.
DACRYPHILIA; also, DACRYLAGNIA: Psychology Sexual arousal from seeing a partner cry.
DARBY CUFFS: A specific type of rigid metal handcuffs where each cuff is shaped like the letter "C," and has a straight lockable bar that can be attached to the open side of the C to close it.
DEVICE BONDAGE: Colloquial Bondage involving highly specialized equipment, furniture, or devices, often very elaborate, to immobilize a person.
DEVIL'S FIRE: Colloquial An unusual branding technique involving taking a pointed needle that has been heated red-hot and touching it lightly to the surface of the skin for a brief instant The point of the needle creates a tiny round burn on the skin. Hundreds or thousands of these tiny marks are combined to create a pointillistic design which may persist for several weeks to several months.
DIAGONAL CROSS: See St. Andrew's cross. Usage: Primarily British; uncommon in the United States.
DISCIPLINE: 1. Any activity in which one person trains another person to act or behave in a specified way, often by enforcing rigid codes of conduct or by inflicting punishment for failure to behave in the prescribed way. 2. Archaic Any instrument used to enforce discipline or to punish physically, such as a whip or crop.
DOMINA: A female dominant.
DOMINANT: A person who assumes a role of power or authority in a power exchange relationship. A dominant takes psychological control over or has power over another person, and may, for example, give that person orders which are to be obeyed. Contrast submissive; see related top, switch.
DOMINATE: To assume or exert control over; to take psychological power over. A person who controls another person or takes control of a scene is said to dominate that person. Dominant is a noun or an adjective; dominate is a verb. Domination, dominance: the act of wielding authority over another.
DOM: A dominant. Usage: Often indicates a male dominant; however, may be applied to a dominant of any sex.
DOMME: A female dominant.
DOOR HANGAR: A n implement for bondage consisting of a short piece of flat webbing, usually an inch or two wide, connected to a thick metal or wooden dowel on one end and a metal ring on the other. The webbing can be hung over the top of a door; when the door is closed, the dowel prevents the webbing from being pulled through the door, and a person may be bound to the ring.
DOUBLE WEAVE: See florentine.
DRAGON'S TAIL: An unusual type of whip consisting of a handle, often made of wood and wrapped with leather, to which a wide triangular piece of thin leather or suede is attached. This leather or suede forms a lash which is a hollow tube tapering to a point at the striking end.
DRAGON'S TONGUE: An unusual type of whip consisting of a handle, often made of wood and wrapped with leather, and a lash made of a single wide piece of leather or suede wrapped around another, thinner suede lash. The outer lash is rolled into a tube around the inner lash, and tapers to a point at the striking end.
DREAD KOOSH FLOGGER: Colloquial A flogger made from a rope handle tied to several Koosh balls, which are children's toys consisting of a small, hard rubber ball with a very large number of long rubber "whiskers" attached. The dread koosh flogger was invented by a participant of the Usenet newsgroup alt.sex.bondage, and is generally considered the definitive standard for thud in a flogger.
DROP COLLAR: A specific type of collar which is shaped in such a way as to descend in the front, so that the frontmost part of the collar rests in the hollow of the throat rather than around the front of the neck. A drop collar may be constructed of a rigid material like stainless steel, or made of more conventional materials such as leather. Some drop collars feature a medallion, charm, or other ornamentation on the frontmost part of the collar. Commentary: Some people find that drop collars are more comfortable than collars that go around the neck, particularly for extended wear.
DUNGEON MONITOR: In a play party, a person charged with ensuring that the participants adhere to safety rules and treat one another with respect.
EDGE PLAY: 1. Any practice which involves significant risk of injury or physical harm; as, breath control, fire play. 2. Any practice which challenges the limits or boundaries of one or more of the participants.
EDGING: The practice of sexually stimulating one's self or another person to near the point of orgasm, often repeatedly, without allowing orgasm. This can be done to create an intense state of arousal, to tease and frustrate the person being edged, and/or as a form of control.
ELECTREAT: A device invented in 1919 which was claimed to be able to treat chronic pain by delivering an electric shock. Similar in some ways to a crude TENS unit, the electreat uses D-cell batteries to generate pulses of high voltage. They are no longer made, and are often sought out by enthusiasts of electrical play.
ELECTRIC PONY: A variation on the wooden horse consisting of a sawhorse or similar piece of furniture with two electrical conductors, such as copper rods or thin copper pipes, running along its length, to which an electric current is applied. A person is made to straddle the electric pony so that as long as he or she remains on tiptoe, thee is no contact with the pony, but lowering from tiptoe results in an electric shock to the inner thighs, penis, or vulva. When the person becomes tired, it becomes increasingly difficult to avoid being shocked.
ELECTRICAL PLAY: Any of a variety of different practices involving the use of electrical current or electricity to stimulate a person. Some common forms of electrical play include using high-voltage, low-current devices such as violet wands or the use of controlled pulses of electricity to induce muscle contractions as with a TENS unit. Commentary: Many forms of electrical play are not safe to use above the waist, as even small amounts of electrical current across the chest may induce heart arrythmia or heart attack.
EMETOPHILIA: Sexual arousal from vomiting.
EMT SCISSORS; also, EMT SHEARS: See bandage scissors.
ENCASEMENT: See mummification.
ENDORPHINS: Naturally-occurring opiate-like chemicals produced in the brain in response to pain, which block pain and can produce a euphoric sensation. The euphoria sometimes described by people who engage in BDSM is often attributed to endorphins.
ENEMA: The act of introducing water or other liquid into the bowel or lower intestine, often by means of a nozzle inserted into the anus and connected to a liquid-filled bag or bulb. Commentary: In a BDSM context, enemas may be given for pleasure (some people find the sensations enjoyable or arousing), as a form of humiliation play, or simply as a precursor to anal sex.
ENGLISH: Archaic caning.
EVIL STICK: Colloquial An implement consisting of a thin rod of carbon fiber, typically about the diameter of a mechanical pencil lead, attached to a small, rigid handle. The carbon fiber rod is flexible and very strong; when laid against the skin and then flicked with a strong upward motion at its tip, it causes a sharp pain and typically leaves a thin, well-defined welt that can persist for days.
EXECUTIONER'S HOOD: A specific form of hood, almost always made of leather, which covers the head and the upper part of the wearer's face but not the wearer's mouth.
EXHIBITIONISM: The act of engaging in exhibitionistic behavior, such as sexual behavior, for the sexual gratification of the person being watched.
FACESITTING; also, FACE SITTING: See queening.
FEAR PLAY: Any BDSM activity centered around creating the feeling of fear in one or more of the participants. This does not necessarily have to involve elements of pain or actual danger; sensations of fear may be created through the use of psychological pressure, sensory deprivation, the threat of pain or discomfort, or even exposing a person to the object of a phobia.
FEMALE LED RELATIONSHIP (FLR): An ongoing romantic or sexual relationship in which Femdom is an integral part.
FEMINIZATION: The practice of enforcing activities or behaviors on a male submissive which are typically associated with women, as cross-dressing, requiring the submissive to sit when urinating, and the like. Often used as a form of humiliation play. Also referred to as sissification.
FEMSUIT: A specific type of full-body suit made to resemble a woman's body and including silicone breasts and a prosthetic vagina, worn either as a sexual fetish or as a prosthetic for transgender women.
FERULA: See tawse. Usage: Originated in Catholic schools; uncommon among people who have not attended Catholic school.
FETISH: 1. Formally, Psychology a non-sexual object whose presence is required for sexual arousal or climax; informally, anything not generally considered sexual which arouses a person, as a foot fetish or a leather fetish. 2. Anything of or relating to BDSM in general; as a fetish convention, a fetish event. 3. Items, practices, or apparel relating to BDSM; as, fetish photography, fetish clothing.
FETTERS: see leg irons.
FIDDLE: A type of restraint consisting of a short metal rod that has a locking collar, usually made of metal, affixed to one end and a pair of locking cuffs on the other, or a rigid yoke with openings for the neck on one end and the wrists on the other. Used to bind the wrists together and prevent freedom of motion of the hands and arms.
FIGGING: The practice of placing a piece of carved ginger root into the anus or vagina. The result is a burning sensation which many people claim can intensify orgasm, and which other people use as an adjunct to physical discipline such as spanking. Commentary: This practice is believed to date back to Victorian times, when it was used in conjunction with caning as a technique for disciplining errant women.
FIRE PLAY: Any of a number of practices involving the use of fire or flame in BDSM or sexual play. One form of fire play, for example, involves placing an accelerant such as alcohol on a person's body, then igniting and quickly extinguishing it. Commentary: Very dramatic, but also dangerous. Not appropriate for inexperienced people.
FIRE WHIP: 1. A flogger with multiple lashes made of flat woven Kevlar, designed to be soaked with a flammable accelerant such as lighter fluid and then ignited prior to use. The fire whip is used by keeping it continuously in motion, so that it strikes the target for very brief periods of time so as to avoid burning the person being whipped. 2. A type of singletail consisting of a rigid handle connected to a long, flexible Kevlar rope, often with a short length of Kevlar string on the end, designed to be soaked in an accelerant and then ignited prior to use.
FIRST GIRL: In the Gor novels, one of a group of female sex slaves owned by the same master, who is considered 'first' or predominent over the other sex slaves. In Gorean D/s, a woman who identifies as a slave and has status or rank over any other women who consider themselves slaves to the same person.
FISH HOOK, also, FISHHOOK, FISHHOOKING: The practice of keeping a submissive's mouth open by means of blunt hooks placed at the corners of the mouth that draw the lips apart, often for oral sex.
FISTICUFF: Archaic 1. To strike with the closed hand. Fisticuffs: Archaic 1. The fists. 2. Colloquial A fistfight. Get into fisticuffs: Engage in a fight with bare fists.
FISTING: The practice of inserting the entire hand into the vagina or (less commonly) into the anus. Commentary: Vaginal fisting is actually quite a bit easier to do than most people realize; the human body is quite accommodating. Contrary to common misconception, fisting is not done by making a fist and shoving it into the vagina; rather, the fingers are placed together and inserted slowly; as the hand is inserted, the fingers tend to curl into a loose ball. Many women experience intense orgasms from vaginal fisting.
FLAGELLATION: A generic term for any sort of activity involving flogging or whipping.
FLOG: To strike with a flogger.
FLOGGER: An implement used to strike a person, consisting of a handle with multiple lashes attached to it. The lashes are typically made of leather, but may also be made of materials such as rope, suede, horsehair, or even Koosh balls. See also cat, cat o' nine tails, dread koosh flogger, fire whip; See related thud, sting.
FORNIPHILIA: (literally, Latin fornire furniture + Greek philos love): a specific type of bondage combined with utility D/s in which a person is bound and immobilized, and then used as furniture, such as a table or footrest.
FORNIPHILIA GAG: See utility gag.
FOUNTAIN OF VENUS: Colloquial Water sports involving urination by a woman.
FROG TIE: A specific form of bondage in which the person kneels and the ankles are bound to the thighs, preventing the person from rising; the wrists are then bound to the ankles.
FUCKING MACHINE: Any device or machine which is designed to simulate the act of sex; often consisting of a dildo affixed to a reciprocating motor so as to thrust in and out of a person. Many varieties of fucking machines exist, some designed so that the subject straddles or sits on them, others designed to be used when the subject is prone or spreadeagle.
FUNNEL GAG: A gag, usually consisting of an oblong or penis-shaped rubber or plastic bit, which has a tube running through it connected to a funnel. When the gag is placed in the mouth, any liquids introduced into the tube will pass into the mouth, and the person wearing the gag has no choice but to swallow them.
GAG: Any device or object designed to be placed in the mouth, most commonly to prevent a person from speaking or making loud sounds, sometimes to hold the mouth open. Also, verb 1. To place an object into the mouth to prevent a person from speaking. 2. To choke, particularly by placing something in the mouth. See also cleave gag, ball gag, butterfly gag, harness gag, rope gag, mouth gag, mouth bit, ring gag, penis gag, pump gag, feeder gag, funnel gag, spider gag, utility gag, wiffle gag.
GASPING: colloquial; see breath control.
GATES OF HELL: A male chastity device consisting of a series of metal rings connected by a leather band which are placed around the penis.
GENITAL CLAMP: Any device designed to be clamped on the genitals, either as part of genitorture or to sensitize the genitals. Commentary: Different designs of genital clamps exist for use on male or female genitalia.
GENITORTURE: pain play inflicted on the genitals.
GIMP: Colloquial A submissive; most often, a gay male submissive. Usage: Almost always refers to a submissive who frequently wears tight-fitting vinyl, leather, PVC, or rubber suits with a hood or mask. Sometimes used insultingly or to indicate derision of the person so named.
GIMP MASK: Colloquial A specific form of hood, often made of heavy leather or rubber, which entirely encloses the face and head, and which often lacks openings for the eyes, mouth, or ears.
GIMP SUIT: Colloquial Any tight, formfitting suit, typically made of black rubber, PVC, heavy leather, or a similar material, which encloses the wearer's entire body. May have straps, rings, or other accessories which can serve as tie-down points.
GOLDEN SHOWER: A form of water sports involving the act of urinating on a person.
GOKKUN: (from the Japanese , "gulp.") A sexual practice, originating in Japan, in which a person drinks a large quantity of ejaculate from a container.
GOR: A mythical planet created by science fiction writer John Norman and used as the setting for an entire series of science fiction novels. The novels describe a civilization in which women occupy an extremely submissive position in society and are often used as sex slaves. The novels describes a formalized, ritualized set of social structures centered around female submission and male superiority, which have been adopted by a subcommunity of people within the BDSM community.
GOREAN D/S: Male domination and female submission according to a formal system adapted from the fictitious society described in the Gor novels, and characterized by strong hierarchy, male superiority, and an elaborate system of protocols. Includes such elements as ritualized postures and positions which women are expected to take in the presence of men under certain circumstances. Also Gorean master, Gorean slave: one who adopts a dominant or submissive role in a manner which reflects the society described in the novels. See related kajira, first girl.
GREEK: Colloquial Of or related to anal sex.
GROPE BOX: A long, narrow, enclosed box, often made of wood, with many openings along its front and sides, into which a person may be placed and then groped or fondled by people outside the box. A person within a grope box is helpless to prevent the fondling and often cannot see the people doing the fondling.
GWENDOLINE HOOD; also, SWEET GWENDOLINE HOOD: A specific type of hood, often made of leather or latex but sometimes made of materials such as PVC or Spandex, which fits around the head and covers the mouth but has a large opening for the eyes and nose. Etymology: Named for Sweet Gwendoline, a character in a series of bondage comics written by artist John Willie in the 1950s and 1960s, who was often depicted wearing this style of hood.
GYNARCHY: 1. Formally, Sociology A political or governmental system ruled by women. 2. Colloquial Femdom, particularly femdom in which all females are assumed to be superior to the male.
HAIR TIE; also, HAIR BONDAGE: Any bondage technique in which a rope, twine, or cord is woven or braided through a person's hair, then tied in such a way as to limit mobility of the bound person's head.
HANDCUFFS: Narrow metal cuffs with a pivoting hinge and a ratcheted locking mechanism, connected to each other by a short length of chain and often used to restrain people's wrists together. Commonly used by law enforcement and security personnel. Commentary: Handcuffs are not always safe to use in BDSM scenarios, particularly if resistance play is involved, as their narrowness and hardness can cause injury to the wrist if the restrained person pulls or struggles against them.
HANDBALLING: Colloquial; see fisting. Usage: Less common than the term fisting.
HANKY CODE: A covert technique developed largely by the old leather community for advertising one's BDSM preferences and to indicate the activities in which one was interested. The code worked by using a system of colored handkerchiefs, usually worn in the back pocket, on the left side for dominants and the right side for submissives. Each class of activity had its own particular color; for example, a person who was interested in pain play might wear a black handkerchief, whereas a gray handkerchief might indicate an interest in bondage, and so on.
HARNESS GAG: A ball gag with additional straps which pass around the wearer's face and head to hold it securely in place.
HEDGEHOG: A device used for sensation play consisting of a short metal cylinder with numerous spikes attached to a handle in such a way that it can be rolled over the skin, producing a sensation somewhat similar to that of a wartenberg wheel.
HOBBLE SKIRT: A item of clothing consisting of a very tight skirt that ends below the knee, which prevents freedom of motion of the legs, allowing the wearer to walk slowly in a hobbling motion but not to move quickly.
HOBBLE STOCK: Any device intended to restrain a person by the genitals, such as a fixed bar or blank with an attached cuff designed to be locked around the penis and testicles, or a fixed rod ending in a dildo to which a woman's legs may be bound so that she is penetrated by the dilldo and can not move. See related impalement.
HOGTIE; also, HOG TIE: A bondage technique in which the bound person's ankles and wrists are bound together, usually behind the back; then the ankles are bound to the wrists wile the person lies on his or her stomach. Also, verb to tie in a hogtie.
HONOR BONDAGE: Colloquial; see psychological bondage.
HOJOJITSU: also, HOJUJITSU, HOJŌJUTSU, HOJU JITSU (Japanese ) A martial art, originating in medieval Japan, for tying and restraining prisoners. Seldom used or taught any more, but the art of hojojitsu may have been the origin of shibari.
HORSE: 1. A piece of bondage furniture consisting of a plank supported by two legs on each end, similar to a sawhorse. A person may be bent or tied over the horse and flogged or spanked. 2. See wooden horse.
HOUSE BOY: A male house slave.
HOUSE GIRL: A female house slave.
HOUSE SLAVE: A submissive, who may often live with the dominant, who acts as a maid, cleaning up the dominant's house and performing other household errands, often while nude. A house slave may sometimes be punished for failure to perform satisfactorarily; with this form of D/s, sexual submission may or may not be part of the arrangement.
HUCOW: A person into lactation and milking as an erotic fetish; particularly, milking via pumps or other machines. Etymology: "hucow" is a portmanteau of "human cow."
HUMBLER: An implement consisting of a locking metal ring which fits around the testicles, connected to two wings which go between the legs and behind the buttocks. A person wearing a humbler cannot stand straight without placing painful pressure on the testicles; the humbler forces the wearer to walk bent over or on all fours.
HUMILIATION PLAY: Sexual arousal from activities which include an element of humiliation, shame, or embarrassment for one or more of the participants. Commentary: Humiliation play is a relatively unusual taste that is often very difficult to explain to someone who doesn't understand it. While humiliation play may carry little or no risk of injury, it can be psychologically very intense, and is sometimes the psychological equivalent of edge play.
ICE LOCK: A type of timed lock used in self-bondage, consisting of a metal cylinder that is filled with water with a rod or cone-shaped insert that can slide into the end of the cylinder. The ice lock is assembled, filled with water, and frozen. When the water freezes, it traps the insert in the cylinder; the insert can not be removed until the water melts. Once the water has melted, the insert slides out. The larger the lock, the longer it takes for the ice to melt.
IMPALEMENT: A practice in which a person is bound, usually while standing, and penetrated anally or vaginally with a dildo attached to the end of a fixed pole or rod in such a way that the person cannot escape or remove himself or herself from the dildo. Commentary: This practice can be dangerous if not done correctly. The person must be bound in such a way that he or she cannot fall if he or she loses balance.
INFANTILISM: A type of role play in which one of the adult participants takes on the role of an infant, and may be dressed in diapers, suck on a pacifier, and so forth. See also age play; see related adult baby.
INFIBULATION: 1. Chastity piercing, particularly of men. 2. In some cultures, the practice of female genital mutilation, typically forced on women at the onset of puberty and often for religious reasons. The practice consists of surgical removal of the clitoris and/or sewing the labial lips together to prevent sexual penetration. 3. In some historical contexts, particularly in ancient Rome, the practice of sewing the foreskin over the head of the penis to prevent a male slave from engaging in sexual intercourse.
INFLATION: A practice involving injecting saline solution into the scrotum to "inflate" the scrotal sac, sometimes to a very large extent. Commentary: A sometimes painful practice that is not safe if not done by a skilled and experienced person.
INFORMED CONSENT: See consent. Commentary: Consent is not valid if it is not informed; in order to be valid, a person who gives permission to engage in an activity must know and understand what the activity is, what the circumstances surrounding the activity are, and what the potential consequences are, including any risks involved in that activity.
INHIBITOR BAR: A rod or bar, usually made of metal, that is attached at one end to a dildo inserted vaginally or anally, and attached at the other end to a spreader bar, so that the person wearing it will cause the dildo to move and twist with every step they take.
INVERSION TABLE: A piece of furniture consisting of a flat table to which a person can be bound, suspended between upright supports on a pivot in such a way that the table can be rotated upright, inclined, or completely upside-down.
IRISH 8 HANDCUFFS; also, IRISH HANDCUFFS: A rigid metal cuff in the shape of the number 8, designed to be locked around the wrists. Unlike normal handcuffs, the Irish 8 cuffs are a single piece of metal, designed to hold the wrists rigidly and therefore more securely than ordinary handcuffs.
IRONS: See leg irons. Archaic, colloquial locked in irons, thrown in irons, clapped in irons: restrained with leg irons.
JAPANESE BONDAGE: See shibari.
JAPANESE CLOVER CLAMP: See clover clamp.
KAMI: In shibari, any technique or tie that involves the hair, such as by weaving ropes through the hair to hold the head immobile.
KARADA: A rope harness, originating in Japan, that is tied around the torso in a series of diamond-shaped patterns. Often used as a foundation in shibari. The karada does not restrain the subject, and can even be worn under clothing.
KEYHOLDER: Someone who has the keys to a chastity belt and determines when, how often, and under what circumstances that person may be released from the chastity belt, in the context of chastity play.
KINBAKU: See shibari. Usage: Most technically, shibari is the act of tying, and kinbaku is artistic bondage. In general use, however, shibari and kinbaku are often used as synonyms.
KNEE PILLORY; also, KNEELING PILLORY, KNEELING STOCK: A stock on a very short frame, such that a person may be restrained by kneeling in front of the stock and then bending over. The top of the stock is then closed around the person's kneck and wrists, restraining him or her in a kneeling position.
KNIFE PLAY: Any activity involving use of a knife. Sometimes done strictly for psychological effect, as with a dull knife; sometimes done for the purpose of cutting or breaking the skin. See related blood play, edge play (def. 1).
KNOUT: A specific type of whip with multiple lashes made of wire or of leather thongs twisted with wire and usually knotted.
LABIA SPREADER, also, LABIA SPREADER BAR: A short, curved metal bar or ring, typically no more than a few inches across, with a clamp at each end designed to be clamped to the labia to hold it open. Used to facilitate penetration or as a form of humiliation play.
LACTOPHILIA; also, EROTIC LACTATION, LACTATION FETISH: Sexual arousal from sucking on a lactating woman's breast.
LADDER: A structure consisting of either a triangular wooden frame with wooden slats running across it or two vertical wooden planks with several horizontal cross members, to which a person can be bound.
LACING: 1. The practice of extreme corsetry; particularly, very tight corsetry done as a form of body modification. 2. A specific and unusual type of bondage done by suturing a part of the body to or around a fixed object. 3. Any functional tie used to close an article of clothing, such as boots or corsets. 4. Any style of bondage involving restraining a person by tying a cord or rope over the person and around many fixed points. See related lacing table. Commentary: In the sense of def. 2, the practice of lacing is often considered edge play and may not be safe if done by a person who is not skilled and knowledgable.
LACING TABLE: A table or other flat, horizontal table-like object specifically designed for lacing (def. 4), usually consisting of two or more rows of eyehooks affixed to the table in such a way that a person lying between the rows of eyehooks can be restrained to the table by a rope or cord that is laced back and forth between the eyehooks.
LASH: 1. Any long, flexible implement, often made of leather or cord, used to strike a person. 2. The flexible striking part of a flogger. Also, verb To strike with a lash (def. 1).
LEATHER BUTT: Colloquial A condition where prolonged, repeated stimulation of a particular part of a person's body, most often pain play involving paddling or striking so as to leave deep bruises, makes that part of the body less sensitive. Usage: Used generically, not necessarily only to describe one's butt. Commentary: In some cases, repeated, prolonged, and very hard striking, as with a paddle or a crop, can create bruising deep enough that the area that is bruised becomes less sensitive. If this is done repeatedly over a period of time, this decrease in sensation can reportedly become permanent, resulting in leather butt. As the people I know tend to enjoy forms of play that do leave very deep bruises, and as I've never seen any cases of permanent reduction in sensation, I am of the opinion that such permanent reduction in sensation is probably rare.
LEG IRONS: A set of locking cuffs, often made of iron fastened together with rivets, with a length of chain about a foot long between them. Designed to be locked around the legs or ankles in such a way that the bound person can still walk, in a slow, shuffling gait, but cannot run. May also include additional chains designed to be affixed to a belt and to cuffs fastened about the wrists. Leg irons which attach specifically to the ankles or feet are also called fetters.
LEG STRETCHER, also LEG SPREADER: See spreader bar.
LEGREE: An implement used for striking, similar in design to a dragon's tail but without a rigid handle.
LIFESTYLE: 1. Colloquial; often "the lifestyle" Of or pertaining to involvement in BDSM, as in How long have you been in the lifestyle? 2. Of or pertaining to a TPE relationship, as in We practice lifestyle D/s. 3. Of or pertaining to »swinging«.
LITTLE: Colloquial One who takes the role of a submissive younger person in age play. Usage: Used as a noun; as, Bob is a little.
LITTLE PLAY: Colloquial; see age play.
LUNGE WHIP: A specific type of whip consisting of a handle attached to a long, flexible shaft, often made of fiberglass and typically about 65" long or so, with a single long, narrow lash. Lunge whips often telescope or disassemble for easy storage.
MANACLES: Any metal cuffs with a length of chain attached, which either connects the cuffs together (as in a pair of handcuffs) or which may be used to affix the cuffs to a wall or other restraint point.
MARTINET: A specific type of whip (def. 1) consisting of a short, rigid handle with many short leather lashes, each of which is square in cross-section.
MARTYMACHLIA: Psychology Sexual arousal from being watched during sex; exhibitionism.
MASOCHIST: One who experiences arousal, excitement, or sexual gratification from receiving pain. Contrast sadist. Commentary: Contrary to popular misconception, a masochist does not experience arousal at all forms of pain; stubbing a toe, for example, is unlikely to be arousing. The context of the pain is important.
MASTIGOTHYMA: Psychology Sexual arousal from being flogged.
MASTURBATRIX: A dominatrix who specializes in manually stimulating men, either to orgasm or as a form of teasing and orgasm denial.
MERINTHOPHILIA: Psychology Sexual arousal from being tied up. See related bondage bunny.
METACONSENT; also, META-CONSENT: See consensual non-consent. Usage: Uncommon.
METAFETISHIST: Colloquial 1. A person who is aroused by introducing a partner to new sexual activities. 2. A person with a wide range of different sexual turn-ons or tastes. 3. A person who enjoys learning or exploring new sexual activities.
MESSALINA SYNDROME; also, MESSALINA COMPLEX: A seldom-used synonym for nymphomania. Etymology: Derives from the alleged promiscuous sexual appetite of Valeria Messalina, the wife of the Roman Emperor Claudius.
MILKING: 1. The practice of stimulating the male prostate, often with a finger or with an implement such as a dildo, or of stimulating the perineum in such a way as to produce ejaculation without orgasm. 2. The practice of inducing orgasm repeatedly in a man, often by sexually stimulating him over and over, until he is no longer able to produce ejaculate. 3. Stimulating the prostate by means of an electrode built into a dildo or similar probe, inserted into the anus and connected to an electrical stimulation device such as a TENS unit. The electrode causes involuntary contraction of the muscles around the prostate, causing ejaculation without arousal or orgasm. 4. Erotic breast stimulation of a lactating woman to produce milk, often with devices such as vacuum pumps.
MILKING STICK: A device specifically intended for milking (def. 1), usually consisting of a teardrop-shaped object about the size of a thumb on the end of a rigid rod, which is inserted into the anus and pressed against the prostate.
MILKING TABLE: A specially designed piece of furniture consisting of an elevated horizontal table with a hole in it, and often equipped with straps or tie-down points. A man may be placed on or bound to the table face down so that his penis extends through the hole, and people underneath the table can stimulate him to ejaculation. See related milking (def. 2).
MISTRESS: Female equivalent of a master.
MONOGLOVE: See armbinder.
MOUSETRAP: A specific type of cage used for very close confinement, consisting of rigid bars bent so as to conform very closely to the shape of a person's body and restrain that person in a specific position, often kneeling or on all fours.
MOUTH BIT: Any of a style of gags with a long, cylinder-shaped bit, usually made of soft rubber or latex, in place of a round ball. Mouth bits may include an integrated harness; such bits are often used in pony play.
MOUTH PLUG: 1. A type of gag consisting of a short tube which holds the mouth open, fastened in place with a strap, and fitted with a plug such as a rubber stopper or a drain plug. The wearer has no choice but to keep the mouth open, and the stopper can be inserted to prevent speech and/or to force the wearer to swallow any liquids in the mouth. 2. JAPANESE MOUTH PLUG: A short, semi-rigid hollow tube, usually made of hard rubber and designed to be placed in the mouth to hold it open. The outside part of the plug is often molded into the shape of a flower, a pair of lips, a smiling mouth, or some other design.
MUMMIFICATION: A form of bondage in which the subject is immobilized by being entirely wrapped quite tightly, as with Saran wrap, rope, fabric, or similar material.
MUNCH: An informal social gathering of people interested in BDSM, usually in a public place such as a restaurant or cafe, for the purpose of meeting other like-minded people and socializing. A munch is generally a low-pressure gathering without overt BDSM overtones. Commentary: The word "munch" was coined by the same person who gave us the word squick.
MUZZLE GAG: A specific type of gag which has a flat panel, often made of leather or latex, that is held over the wearer's mouth by straps which go around the wearer's cheeks, and sometimes containing additional straps that pass over the top of the wearer's head, straps that pass around or under the wearer's chin, or both.
NAWA JUJUN: Japanese; see bondage bunny.
NECK CORSET: See corset collar.
NEWBIE: Colloquial A newcomer to BDSM; or, more generally, a newcomer to any sport, hobby, or subculture.
NEW LEATHER: Anything of or related to a specific part of the BDSM community which began taking the place of the old leather community in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The new leather community abandoned many of the rigid hierarchies and strict protocols of the old leather community, and welcomed lesbians and heterosexuals interested in BDSM. Commentary: The old leather community began to fade for a number of reasons, including the fact that many of its members were aging, the fact that both homosexuality and BDSM became much more mainstream during the late 1970s and 1980s (a trend which is continuing today), the fact that BDSM began reaching a wider and wider pool of interested people thanks to new communications media such as the Internet, and the effect of AIDS on the gay community in the late 1980s.
NIPPLE CLAMP: Any clamp or clamp-like device designed to be clamped to a subject's nipples. May include a mechanism for adjusting or limiting the amount of pressure applied to the nipple. Clothespins make good (and cheap!) nipple clamps. See related clover clamps, tweezer clamps.
NOSE HOOK: A set of rigid, blunt hooks, about an inch long, connected to a length of rope, cord, or chain. The hooks are inserted in a person's nose and the rope is tied above or behind the person, forcing the head up. Sometimes used in shibari.
NOSE SHACKLE: A device, often consisting of a metal clamp with adjustable jaws which can be opened or closed by means of a screw, designed to clamp onto a person's nose. When clamped, the nose shackle can not be removed by the wearer. Often has a means of affixing a chain or leash, allowing a person to be restrained by the nose shackle.
NOSTRIL STRAP: See nose hook.
NULLIFICATION: Sexual arousal from the act of amputation. Commentary: very, very, very rare.
O RING; also, RING OF O: See roissy ring.
ODALISQUE: (Literally, Turkish oda chamber, room + liq woman) Archaic A female sex slave.
OLD LEATHER: Anything of or related to the gay male BDSM community which began in the United States and Canada after WWII and was most popular primarily between the 1960s and the late 1980s; characterized by a very rigid and structured hierarchy, elaborate codes of conduct, ritualized protocol, and a strong sense of community, duty, and loyalty. Often modeled on military traditions and practices, the old leather community was almost exclusively comprised of gay men and was suspicious of "outsiders." Contrast new leather; See related hanky code.
ONE-COLUMN TIE: In bondage, any form of tie which binds one of the body to something else; as, for example, any tie which binds a wrist to a fixed object such as a headboard. See related two-column tie.
ORAL SERVITUDE: A specific form of submission in which the submissive partner satisfies the dominant partner orally, but is generally not permitted to have other, more conventional forms of sexual contact with the dominant partner.
ORGASM CONTROL; also, ORGASM DENIAL: The practice whereby one person is not permitted to reach sexual orgasm without the permission of another person, or for a set period of time, or sometimes at all, even though that person may be permitted (or required) to engage in sexual activity or sex.
ORIENTATION PLAY: Any activity in which a person is ordered or instructed to engage in sexual activity with another person whose sex is not appropriate for the first person's sexual orientation or identity, as for example instructing a straight female to engage in sexual activity with another woman.
OTK: (Acronym) see Over the knee.
OVERSEER'S WHIP: A type of singletail, usually about six feet long and having a braided lash but without a rigid handle, commonly used by slave traders and slave owners in United States history. Very similar to a bullwhip.
PAIN PLAY: Any activity in which one person inflicts pain on a consenting partner, for the pleasure of one or more of the people involved. Spanking, flogging, paddling, whipping, and so on are all forms of pain play. See related sadist, masochist.
PAINGASM: Colloquial An orgasm achieved through painful stimulation. See related contrapolar stimulation.
PANIC SNAP: A specific type of carabiner designed in such a way that the mechanism can be opened to release a rope or chain even if a full weight is bearing down on it.
PANEL GAG: A specific type of gag which has a flat panel, usually made of leather, held across the wearer's mouth by two straps.
PANSEXUAL: 1. Of or relating to all sexual orientations, sexes, and gender identities. 2. One who engages in sexual or erotic activities with partners of all sexes and orientations. Pansexual event: an event catering to people of any sexual orientation or identity. Pansexual group: any group open to membership by any person regardless of sex, sexual orientation, or sexual identity.
PARACHUTE: A small leather cone with a hole in its center, which is often used in CBT. The parachute is wrapped around the scrotum, and weights are suspended from it, pulling on the scrotum and compressing the testicles.
PEAR; also, PEAR OF ANGUISH: A pear-shaped device with three or four segments that open when a knob or screw at the base is turned. The pear is inserted into the mouth, vagina, or anus and the knob is turned to open it up. When opened, it can not be removed. Sometimes includes a locking mechanism on the knob to prevent it from being closed again without a key.
PERVERTIBLE: Colloquial Any object which serves an ordinary and prosaic function, but which also has a use in BDSM activities. For example, clothespins are often used as nipple clamps; saran wrap can be used for mummification; paint stirrers are sometimes used as paddles; and so on. Etymology: This term was coined by David Stein.
PENIS GAG: A specific type of gag which has a short, penis-shaped dildo that is inserted into the wearer's mouth and held in place by straps.
PENIS PLUG: A device that is worn around the glans of the penis with a protrusion, often made of metal, that is inserted into the urethra. It blocks the urethra, preventing the escape of semen and causing ejaculation to be painful.
PET PLAY: Any activity in which one or more participants takes on the role of a pet, such as in puppy play.
PETTICOATING: Archaic feminization, especially, feminization done by making the subject dress in women's clothing as a punishment for some transgression.
PILLORY: Archaic; see stock. Also, verb, archaic: to expose to scorn or ridicule.
PILLORY BED: A bed with a stock built into the headboard and/or footboard, such that a person lying on the bed may have the stock closed over his or her ankles, wrists, or wrists and head to restrain the person and prevent him or her from leaving the bed.
PINAFORING: Archaic; see petticoating. Etymology: From pinafore, a sleeveless dress or apron. Victorians were reputed to use pinaforing as a punishment for disobedient, troublesome, or unruly boys.
PLASTICUFF: See cable tie.
PLAY PARTY: 1. A social gathering in which people participate in BDSM activities, often in a space outfitted as a dungeon. Play parties may be public or private gatherings, and may or may not permit overt sexual activity. Play parties often offer the advantage of access to equipment and furniture that many people may not own. Play parties also offer the opportunity for people to engage in exhibitionism and voyeurism. 2. See polyamory: »play party«
PLAY PIERCING: A form of needle play in which the needles are placed through the skin or through parts of the body such as nipples. The piercings thus made may or may not have items such as rings placed through them. A defining element of play piercing is that the piercings are not intended to be permanent and the needles or other items are removed at the end of the session.
PONY PLAY: An activity in which the submissive takes on the role of a pony; for example, by walking on all fours, sometimes with a bit or bridle in the mouth; by pulling carts; by allowing the dominant to ride on his or her back; and so on. See related animalism, mouth bit.
POPPER: 1. See cracker (def. 1). 2. Colloquial A vial of amyl nitrate, butyl nitrate, cyclohexylnitrite, or any similar high-volatility organic nitrate or nitrite compound, whose vapors produce euphoria and sometimes heightened sexual sensation when inhaled.
POST: See whipping post.
POSTURE COLLAR: A specific type of high, rigid collar, often shaped to the wearer's neck, which prevents the wearer from moving his or her neck and forces the wearer to hold his or her head high. See related corset collar.
POWER EXCHANGE: Any situation where two or more people consensually and voluntarily agree to a power relationship in which one (or more) people assume authority and one (ore more) people yield authority. This relationship may be for a predetermined time, or indefinite. Relationships based on indefinite power exchange are often referred to as TPE relationships. The defining factor of power exchange is the conscious, deliberate construction of a power dynamic in which at least one person assumes psychological control to some agreed-upon extent over at least one other person.
PREDICAMENT BONDAGE: A type of bondage in which the intent is to place the bound person in an awkward, difficult, inconvenient, or uncomfortable situation, or to set out a challenge for the bound person to overcome. For example, a person might be bound in such a way that his or her hands and feet are largely but not completely immobilized, then asked to perform a task (such as to serve the dominant partner a drink) which is made difficult by the bondage; or, a person might be bound and told to hold a weight in his or her teeth attached to a line connected to nipple clamps in such a way that if he or she drops the weight, it will suddenly yank off the nipple clamps, then be spanked or tickled in an attempt to get him or her to drop the weight.
PRISON STRAP: See hog slapper.
PRODOMME: A female dominant who earns money by dominating her clients. Commentary: Men who earn a living in a similar way seem so rare as to be virtually nonexistant.
PROSTATE MILKING: See milking (def. 1).
PROTOCOL: Any defined, enforced code of behavior which a submissive is expected to abide by. A protocol often imposes constraints and limits on the submissive's behavior, particularly in social settings; for example, a protocol may specify that a submissive is not to speak to another person without the dominant's permission, may not speak unless spoken to, and so on.
PSYCHOLAGNY: Psychology Orgasm without physical stimulation. Commentary: In some D/s relationships, the dominant partner will train the submissive partner to orgasm on command, with a word or a gesture, but without being touched physically.
PUMP GAG: A type of gag consisting of a blunt, rounded, or penis-shaped rubber bladder which is placed in the mouth and can then be inflated with air by means of a hand pump. The gag increases in size, filling the mouth, when inflated. Commentary: Some inflatable gags can be quite dangerous, as they can enlarge until they press against the back of the throat, cutting off breathing and causing suffocation. Some pump gags have breathing tubes through them to mitigate this danger. Some forms of pump gags may not legally be sold in the United States.
PUNISHMENT TIE: Any form of bondage done in such a way that the bound person's pose or the bondage itself is painful or uncomfortable, or any kind of bondage done with the intent of causing pain or discomfort to the bound person. Some forms of shibari include punishment ties. See related pain play.
PUPPY PLAY: An activity in which the submissive takes on the role of a puppy, as by barking, walking on all fours, and in some cases even sleeping in a doghouse or cage. See related animalism, kennel play.
QUEENING: A practice whereby a dominant, usually but not always female, sits on the face of a submissive, who is often restrained, forcing the submissive to perofrm oral sex and/or anilingus. Sometimes may also include breath control. See related queening stool.
QUEENING STOOL: A low stool, typically only about six inches high, with a large round opening in the bottom, used for queening. The queening stool is placed over the face of a prone submissive, allowing a female dominant seated on the stool to receive oral sex from the submissive.
QUIRT: A type of whip with two or (occasionally) three short lashes affixed to a long, thin handle.
RACE PLAY: A form of role play in which the participants assume the roles of people of different races, often in a setting in which the participant's race is relevant to the power dynamic (as, for example, a form of role play in which one person assumes the role of a Southern plantation owner and one person assumes the role of an African slave).
RACK: (Acronym) see risk aware consensual kink.
RACK: (Non-Acronym) Any type of bondage furniture consisting of a framework or platform to which a person may be bound; often derived from a Medieval implement consisting of a platform and a wheeled mechanism designed to stretch or pull the person bound to it.
RAPE PLAY, also RAPE FANTASY: A form of role play in which one person stages a mock "rape" for the purpose of gratification of all the people involved. See related consensual non-consent, resistance play. Commentary: A surprisingly common form of BDSM play, often staged so as to fulfill a woman's sexual fantasies of rape or coerced sex in a safe and controlled way.
RESISTANCE PLAY: Any mutually consensual activity in which one person struggles against another and is subdued by "force." May involve rape play; some forms of bondage include resistance as well. See related consensual non-consent.
RETIFISM: Psychology; see shoe fetishism.
RIGGER: Colloquial A person who specializes in tying up others, often using elaborate techniques such as shibari, primarily as an art form rather than for sexual gratification. Commentary: Talented riggers can earn a living by selling photographs of their work to magazines or Web sites which cater to bondage enthusiasts, writing books on the subject, working for bondage-related Web sites, and so on.
RIDING CROP: See crop.
RHABDOPHILIA: Psychology Sexual arousal from being whipped, beaten, or flogged.
RHAPHANIDOSIS: The practice of placing a peeled radish into the anus, which creates an intense sensation that some people find pleasurable. See related figging. Etymology: Radishes belong to the taxonomical genus raphanus. Commentary: The practice dates back to ancient Greece, where it was used as a punishment for infidelity.
RIMMING: Colloquial Anilingus.
RING GAG: A specific type of gag consisting of a metal ring, often padded with leather, which has a strap attached to it. The ring is placed in the mouth in such a way as to hold the mouth open, and the strap secures it in place.
RISK AWARE CONSENSUAL KINK (RACK): A loosely defined code of conduct in the BDSM community which holds that a given activity is ethically acceptable between adults so long as everyone involved is aware of the risks involved, if any, and gives informed consent to that activity. The idea behind "risk aware consensual kink" is an acknowledgement of the fact that some BDSM activities may involve risk of injury, and that as long as all the participants are aware of any risk and consent to the activity, the activity is ethical. See related SSC, edge play (def. 1).
ROD: Archaic; see cane.
ROLE PLAY: Any activity in which the people involved assume roles or identities different from their own and act out a scenario. For example, one extremely common form of role-play has one of the participants assume the role of a teacher or other authority figure, and the other assume the role of a student or other character in a position of less authority, and the people act out a scenario in which the character in the position of authority somehow takes advantage of that authority, often in a sexual way.
ROPE CUFF: Any form of tie which binds the wrists or ankles together.
ROPE DRESS: See karada.
ROPE GAG: A type of gag made by tying a rope around or through the mouth. Occasionally, a rope can be made to serve two functions by tying it around a person's head so that it passes through the mouth and around a fixed object; this both restrains the head and prevents speech.
ROISSY RING: A specific style of ring sometimes worn by submissives as a symbol of their submission. Modeled after the rings worn by female submissives in the book The Story of O.
S&M: See sadomasochism.
SADIST: One who is aroused, excited, or receives sexual gratification from inflicting pain on another. Contrast masochist. Commentary: A sadist does not necessarily take pleasure in inflicting pain indiscriminately; for most sadists, the pleasure relies on knowing that the subject is also enjoying the experience.
SADOMASOCHISM: Any activity or practice involving the inflicting or receiving of pain; pain play.
SAFE CALL: A practice sometimes used as a safety measure when meeting a new partner for the first time. The safe call is a prearranged telephone call made to a trusted friend at a specific time to let that friend know that everything is okay; may involve the use of special code words to indicate whether or not the person making the safe call is in danger or distress.
SAFE, SANE, AND CONSENSUAL (SSC): A code of conduct which holds that any activity between adults is acceptable as long as it is safe, sane, and consensual. Often held up as a test to whether or not a particular activity is ethical. See related RACK. Commentary: Many people see a flaw in the idea of "safe, sane, and consensual" because whether or not an activity is "safe" and "sane" is subjective, and because people may choose to engage in activities which might not always be "safe," as in some forms of edge play (def. 1). (This is true even outside the BDSM community; consider skydiving, for example). Because of this, SSC has given way to the code of conduct called "RACK" (risk-aware consensual kink) in some places.
SAFEWORD: A predefined "code word" which a submissive can use to stop an ongoing activity if it becomes too much. Commentary: Safewords are often used in situations such as resistance play, where the submissive may be expected to struggle or resist and where the word "no" might not actually mean no. In such cases, for safety's sake it's often helpful to have some word that does mean "no," and is a word unlikely to come up otherwise.
SA'FORA: See kajira.
SCARFING: Colloquial Breath control by means of using a scarf or scarf-like object as a ligature around the neck. Usage: A relatively uncommon term; appears to have originated in the United States.
SCARIFICATION: A form of body modification involving cutting the skin, often in intricate or elaborate patterns, in such a way that the healing process leaves behind a permanent scar.
SCAT; also SCAT PLAY: Any activity involving feces. Commentary: Very likely to elicit a squick reaction from most people.
SCENE: 1. A specific period of BDSM activity; as in, We had a scene lasting about two hours last night. 2. Colloquial The BDSM community as a whole. 3. In the scene: participating in the organized BDSM community.
SCOLD'S BRIDLE: A lockable metal cage which encloses the head, with an integrated metal protrusion which goes into the wearer's mouth, preventing speech. Also called a "brank" or sometimes "branks." Commentary: A rare piece of BDSM equipment modelled after a similar device used in Medieval times to punish gossipy or "troublesome" women.
SCOPTOPHILIA: see voyeurism.
SCOURGE: A specific type of flogger which usually has two or three long, heavy lashes attached to a rigid handle.
SELF-BONDAGE: The act or practice of tying one's self up or otherwise restraining one's self, sometimes as a part of masturbation. Often includes some mechanism by which the person may be freed after a set amount of time, which may include a timer mechanism to release a key or otherwise release the person.
SEGUFIX: A type of medical restraint system, designed to secure a person in almost any position safely and capable of being used for extended periods of time, sometimes used for bondage.
SENNET WHIP: A type of singletail consisting of a length of thin rope or pleated cord, usually about 18 to 24 inches in length, knotted on the striking end and then dipped in hot tar, tallow, or wax to increase its weight and stiffness.
SENSATION PLAY: Any BDSM activity involving creating unusual sensations on a person, who may be blindfolded, as with ice cubes, soft fur or cloth, coarse materials, and the like. Sensation play is much more mild than pain play and may or may not include an element of power exchange.
SENSORY DEPRIVATION: Any practice intended to reduce a person's ability to see, hear, or use his or her other senses, either to create a psychological state of arousal or fear or as part of sensation play. See related ball hood, blindfold, isolation hood.
SERAGLIO: Archaic The private quarters for the members of a harem.
SERPENT'S KISS: A short tawse, often no more than three or four inches long.
SERPENT'S TONGUE: 1. Colloquial; see tawse. 2. An implement for striking consisting of a heavy, wide leather strap with a deep "V"-shaped cut in it, so that it tapers into two pointed triangular tails at the striking end.
SERVICE D/S: A specific type of D/s centered around the submissive serving the dominant in practical ways, as by bringing the dominant food or drink and so on. For people involved in service D/s, sexual submission may or may not be a part of the relationship. Commentary: For a submissive whose focus is service D/s, everyday acts that many people might take for granted become a powerful symbol of submission. Even something as simple as bringing the dominant a drink can be a token of the submissive's submission.
SERVICE TOP: Colloquial A dominant whose primary interest in domination is to provide an enjoyable experience for the submissive or to act out a scenario which the submissive finds appealing, but who may not get any direct gratification from the act of domination itself.
SHIBARI: A type of bondage originating in Japan and characterized by extremely elaborate and intricate patterns of rope, often used both to restrain the subject and to stimulate the subject by binding or compressing the breasts and/or genitals. Shibari is an art form; the aesthetics of the bound person and the bondage itself are considered very important. Also sometimes called kinbaku. See related karada, shinju, kami, kotori, sukuranbo, takate-kote. Usage: Most technically, shibari is the act of tying, and kinbaku is artistic bondage. In general use, however, shibari and kinbaku are often used as synonyms.
SHINJU: A type of rope harness, originating in Japan, which goes around and over the breasts. A shinju does not restrict motion, and can be worn under clothing; as the subject moves, the ropes shift against the breasts, providing constant stimulation. Often used in shibari.
SHOE FETISHISM: A type of sexual expression centered around a fixtion on shoes, sometimes as part of submission. Submissive shoe fetishism may involve acts such as licking, kissing, or caring for the dominant partner's shoes.
SHREW'S FIDDLE: Colloquial; see fiddle.
SIGNAL WHIP: A type of small singletail, usually three to four feet in length.
SINGLE-GLOVE: See armbinder.
SINGLETAIL: Any of a class of whips having a single lash; most commonly applied to bullwhips and similar implements. Commentary: Most varieties of singletail whips can inflict great injury and can be dangerous in the hands of an inexperienced user. Singletail whips require skill and training to use properly, and are not easy to master. Use of a singletail is sometimes considered edge play (def. 1).
SISSIFICATION: see feminization.
SLAVE: A submissive, usually in a TPE relationship. Contrast master. Commentary: People who self-identify as "master" or "slave" often see dominance or submission as a cornerstone of their identity, an essential part of who they are as people; this self-identify may affect and inform almost every aspect of their lives.
SJAMBOK: A specific type of heavy, short whip-like implement used for striking, formerly made of tightly rolled rhinocerous hide but today often made of plastic or rigid rubber. The sjambok is typically about an inch wide at the handle end, half an inch wide or less at the striking end, and three to five feet in length.
SLAVE AUCTION: An event sometimes held at play parties, conventions catering to BDSM participants, and the like, in which submissives are auctioned off for the use by the highest bidder in some context or for a set period of time. Slave auctions are sometimes held at BDSM-related events to raise money for charity.
SLAPHAPPY: See slapper. Usage: Becoming archaic.
SLAPPER: An implement used for striking a person, consisting of two thick leather paddles bound together at the handle, such that when the person is struck the two paddles hit one another, creating a loud sound.
SLEEPING BEAUTY SYNDROME: 1. Psychology A disorder characterized by episodic hypersomnia (periods of dramatically lengthened sleep), sometimes accompanied by other traits such as hypersexuality. 2. Colloquial: see somnophilia.
SLEEPSACK; also, SLEEP SACK: See body bag.
SLING: Ain item of furniture, usually made of leather, canvas, or nylon webbing, suspended by chains or cables from the ceiling. A person may sit in the sling and arranged for easy availability to such activities as sexual intercourse, fisting, and the like. Slings may include additional mechanisms to restrain the person within the sling or to keep the legs spread apart. See also fisting sling.
SMOTHERBOX: A lockable box, often padded with leather, designed to be locked over the head of a submissive and used for queening. The smotherbox contains a large opening which exposes the submissive's face, allowing the dominant to straddle or sit on the box. May include a mechanism for affixing the box to the floor or to an item of furniture such as a bed or bench, so that the submissive can not move.
SNAKE: A type of flexible singletail which lacks a rigid handle.
SOFT LIMIT: A limit which is not necessarily be set in stone, but which may be flexible or may change over time. Contrast hard limit. See related edge play (def. 2). Commentary: One of the most powerful aspects of BDSM is that it offers a way for people to challenge their soft limits, testing themselves against their own boundaries in a safe and controlled way.
SOUND: A thin, solid metal rod designed to be inserted in the urethra, often as a part of a medical role play.
SPANK: To strike on the buttocks, either with an open hand or with a paddle.
SPANKING GLOVE: A glove, often made of leather or heavy rubber and frequently (though not always) fingerless, designed to protect the wearer's palm as the wearer spanks another person.
SPANKING SKIRT: A specific style of skirt that has an opening in the back to expose the bare buttocks for spanking. Such skirts are normally quite tight, and in addition to exposing the buttocks for spanking may act as a hobble skirt.
SPECULUM: A medical instrument commonly consisting of two or occasionally three probes designed to be inserted into the vagina or (less commonly) the anus, together with a mechanism intended to spread the probes apart, opening the vagina or anus. Sometimes used in medical role play scenarios.
SPENCER PADDLE: A specific type of oblong wooden paddle, allegedly invented by an American schoolteacher named Harold Spencer in the 1930s, that has a rounded end, is generally about fifteen to twenty inches long, and has a number of holes drilled in the striking surface. The holes are intended to prevent the formation of a cushion of air between the paddle and the person being paddled, which Spencer reasoned might soften the blow. Commentary: Paddles of this design were used in American schools until very recently; as a result, this style of paddle is popular among people who enjoy paddling as part of student/teacher role play.
SPIDER GAG: A specific type of ring gag featuring a central ring to which short rods or metal extensions are fitted, so as to hold the mouth open and keep the lips open as well.
SPREADER BAR: An implement consisting of a rigid bar or rod, often with attachment points for restraints built into it at each end, designed to be attached to a person's feet or ankles so as to hold the person's legs spread apart. May be adjustable in length.
SQUICK: Colloquial A feeling of disgust, repulsion, or similar negative emotional reaction to the idea of an activity which does not appeal to someone. Also, verb to feel disgust or revulsion at an idea; Water sports make Lisa squick. Etymology: The word "squick" has an interesting history. It was coined by a regular user of the old Usenet newsgroup alt.sex.bondage to describe a sudden and unexpected revulsion experienced by her partner when a group of very young kittens tried to nurse on him. It was originally intended to mean a strong negative response that was both surprising and unexpected. Since then, it has commonly been used to describe an emotional reaction of disgust in general, in spite of the original intent.
SSC: See safe, sane, and consensual.
ST. ANDREW'S CROSS: A popular type of bondage furniture consisting of an X-shaped cross, commonly made of wood but occasionally made of metal or other materials, to which a person can be bound and flogged, whipped, and so on.
STING: A sensation of quick, sharp pain. Usage: The feeling caused by being struck by a flogger is usually described in terms of thud or sting. Commentary: All other things being equal, a flogger with a large number of lashes (def. 2) produces a sensation with less sting and more thud than a similar flogger with fewer lashes; a flogger with narrow lashes produces a sensation that is more sting and less thud than a similar flogger with wide lashes; a flogger with soft lashes (as with a flogger made with lashes of suede or deerskin) produces more thud and less sting than a similar flogger made with stiff lashes; and a flogger with braided or knotted lashes produces more sting than a similar flogger whose lashes are not braided or knotted.
STOCK: A device used for bondage consisting of a vertical wooden post or a wooden frame atop which is set two heavy wood planks which close around a person's neck and wrists.
STOCK WHIP: 1. See signal whip. 2. Any of a class of singletail whips having a relatively long, rigid handle, often made of wood, which is outside the braidings of the whip's lash (as opposed to singletails such as a bullwhip, where the handle is enclosed in the end of the lash)..
STRAITJACKET: A heavy jacket, often made of canvas, whose sleeves end in long straps, which are wrapped around the jacket and buckled in place. A person confined in a straitjacket has very little freedom of motion; freeing one's self from a straitjacket is virtually impossible.
STRAP: An implement used for striking a person, consisting of a long, flat piece of heavy leather. Also, verb to strike with a strap.
STRAP-IN: A dildo designed to penetrate a person either vaginally or anally and then be held in place by a strap or harness, sometimes equipped with a lock to prevent it from being removed.
STRAP-ON: A dildo attached to straps, a harness, or some other mechanism designed to be worn around the waist.
STRAPPADO BONDAGE: A specific bondage technique in which a person's hands are tied behind his or her back, then a rope is tied to the wrists and attached to an overhead fixture or pulley tightly enough so that the bound person is forced to bend over with his or her arms in the air. Commentary: This is a physically demanding form of bondage which exerts strain on the arms and shoulders and may be dangerous if done by people who are not experienced and knowledgable.
SUBDROP: see bottom drop.
SUB FRENZY: Colloquial A very strong, sometimes overwhelming, desire to find a dominant partner or to become immersed in BDSM-related activities, sometimes seen in people who identify strongly as submissive, particularly people who have either just newly discovered their submissive side or who have not partaken in BDSM-related activities for a long time. People in the grip of sub frenzy may sometimes make unwise or unsafe choices.
SUBMISSIVE: One who assumes a role of submission in a power exchange relationship. A submissive is a person who seeks a position of or occupies a role of intentional, consensual powerlessness, allowing another person to take control over him or her. Contrast dominant; see related bottom, switch.
SUBSPACE: A specific state of mind that a submissive may enter, particularly after intense activities and/or (depending on the person) intense pain play, characterized by euphoria, bliss, a strong feeling of well-being, or even a state similar to intoxication. Thought to be related to the release of endorphins in the brain. The euphoria associated with subspace may last for hours or sometimes even days after the activity ceases.
SUKARANBO; also, SUKURANBO: In shibari, a type of rope harness which wraps around the buttocks and upper thighs and passes between the legs and over the genitals, passing between the labial lips of a female wearer. The rope may feature a knot at the place where it touches the clitoris. A sukuranbo does not restrict motion, and may even be worn under or over clothing; as the wearer walks or moves, the ropes slide over the genitals, causing sexual stimulation.
SUSPENSION: Any form of bondage in which the person bound is suspended partially or completely off the floor, often by ropes affixed to an overhead point (as with a kotori in shibari), or by means of a rigid bar with attached suspension cuffs.
SUSPENSION BAR: A short bar, often made of metal and which may be straight or slightly curved, with a mounting point in the center and additional mounting points designed for rope, chain, or suspension cuffs on each end. A person is bound to the suspension bar, which is hung from an overhead point by means of a cable or chain connected to its centeral mounting point. May often be used in conjunction with a lift, winch, or pulley system such that a person may be bound to the suspension bar and the bar may then be raised or lowered.
SUSPENSION CUFFS: Any restraints designed to encircle the wrists, ankles, hands, or feet and designed in such a way as to distribute the wearer's weight so that the wearer may be partially or completely suspended from the cuffs. Some suspension cuffs contain an integrated panic snap.
SUSPENSION FRAME: Any frame, rack, or similar structure designed for the purpose of suspension. Common configurations of suspension frames include an open "box" with mounting points along its upper edges, in which a person can be suspended so that the person hangs horizontally within the box; a rectangular upright frame, from which a person may be suspended with rope or suspension cuffs; and a long wood or metal pole, supported by two legs on each end, from which a person may be suspended by ropes.
SUSPENSION RACK: See suspension frame.
SUTURING; also, SUTURE PLAY: The practice of temporarily suturing or sewing parts of the body, particularly the genitals, for sexual gratification. Forms of suturing include sewing the labia closed and sewing the foreskin of the flaccid penis to the scrotum See related needle play, lacing (def. 2). Commentary: An unusual practice that may not safe unless done by a skilled and knowledgable person.
SWITCH: 1. One who can change roles, being either dominant or submissive (or, less frequently, sadistic or masochistic) at different times or with different partners. 2. A thin, flexible rod, often made from a green branch of a tree such as a willow tree, used for striking people; similar to a cane. 3. See polyamory: »switch«. Also, verb 1. To change roles, as from a dominant role to a submissive role. 2. (infrequent) To strike with a switch (def. 2).
SWINGER: See polyamory: »swinger«.
SYBIAN: One popular variety of commercially-available fucking machine consisting of a dildo affixed to a dome-shaped saddle which the user sits on. Commentary: The Sybian has been described by a friend of mine as "a machine that rips orgasms out of women." After my experiences watching people use these machines, I have to agree.
TACK BRA: An article of clothing consisting of a bra with inserts, often made of leather or heavy cloth, through which a large number of thumbtacks or similar pointed objects have been pressed. The inserts are placed in the bra with the points facing inward, so that when it is worn, they press against the skin of the breast, creating constant sensation.
TAKATE-KOTE: A type of rope harness, originating in Japan, which goes around the torso and holds the arms behind the back. Often used in shibari.
TAYLOR HAMMER: A common medical instrument consisting of a triangular rubber hammer attached to a metal handle, used for testing reflexes by tapping just beneath the knee. Sometimes used for percussion in the BDSM community.
TELEDILDONICS: Colloquial Of or relating to any form of sex toy or fucking machine designed to be operated remotely, as by radio, over a computer network, and so on.
TENS UNIT: An electrical device which applies electrical signals through pads affixed to the skin, commonly used in the medical community to relieve pain by blocking the transmission of pain impulses through the nerves. Stands for "transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation." Used in BDSM as a form of electrical play. See related violet wand. Commentary: A TENS unit can have an effect ranging from a mild tingle to a very strong sensation, depending on how it is used. It can also cause involuntary muscle contractions. Some TENS units used in BDSM play include electrodes designed to be inserted in the vagina or anus; some people find that the vaginal contractions induced by a vaginal TENS probe can cause intense, long-lasting orgasms.
THUD: A sensation of heavy, dull impact. Usage: The feeling caused by being struck by a flogger is usually described in terms of thud or sting. Commentary: All other things being equal, a flogger with a large number of lashes (def. 2) produces a sensation with less sting and more thud than a similar flogger with fewer lashes; a flogger with narrow lashes produces a sensation that is more sting and less thud than a similar flogger with wide lashes; a flogger with soft lashes (as with a flogger made with lashes of suede or deerskin) produces more thud and less sting than a similar flogger made with stiff lashes; and a flogger with braided or knotted lashes produces more sting than a similar flogger whose lashes are not braided or knotted.
TIME LOCK: Any mechanical or electrical locking mechanism diesgned to release itself automatically after a certain amount of time, often used for self-bondage. Time locks may be as simple as a key frozen in a block of ice so that the key is inaccessible until the ice melts, or complex electromagnetic locks that work with batteries and electronic timers.
TOP: One who administers some form of stimulation, such as spankings, floggings, or some other kind of stimulation on another person but does not have psychological control or power over that person. Contrast bottom; see related dominant.
TIGHTLACER: Colloquial One who practices lacing (Def.1).
TOP DROP: Colloquial A sudden, abrupt feeling of depression, unhappiness, or similar negative emotion in a dominant which may occasionally occur immediately after a period of BDSM activity. May include feelings of guilt, especially if the dominant believes he or she has made an error, or has traditional ideas about relationship or socially appropriate behavior.
TOP'S DISEASE: Colloquial The tendency for some people who identify as dominant to believe that they are owed the same sort of deference and/or obedience they want from a submissive during play all the time, from everyone. People suffering this malady may, for example, demand servile behavior or deference from all submissives they encounter, or from everyone they encounter, regardless of consent or negotiated relationship.
TOTAL POWER EXCHANGE (TPE): A relationship in which one person surrenders control to another person for an indefinite duration, and in which the relationship is defined by the fact that one person is always dominant and the other is always submissive. One of the more extreme forms of power exchange. Sometimes referred to as lifestyle D/s. See related master, slave.
TPE: see Total Power Exchange.
TRAINING COLLAR: A collar given to a submissive in the early stages of a BDSM relationship (particularly a TPE relationship) when the submissive and the dominant are still exploring the possibility of a committed relationship. Similar in some ways to an engagement ring in a wedding.
TRAMPLING: A practice in which one person lies prone and is stepped or walked on by another.
TRANSVESTITE: One who engages in cross-dressing.
TRIPLE WEAVE: A flashy flogging technique involving the use of a flogger in each hand. The floggers are swung in an alternating overhand/underhand pattern; each flogger moves in a circle on each side of the weilder's body. See related florentine.
TWEEZER CLAMPS: A type of nipple clamp consisting of long, thin, tweezer-like clamps made of flexible spring steel, with a ring which can be used to adjust their tightness. Commentary: Among the mildest of all forms of nipple clamps, typically causing little or no pain.
TWO-COLUMN TIE: In bondage, any form of tie which binds two parts of the body together; as, for example, any tie which ties the wrists together, or ties a wrist to an ankle. See related one-column tie.
UGOL'S LAW: A law first stated by Harry Ugol in the Usenet newsgroup alt.sex.bondage which holds that if there's some kink you have or something turns you on, no matter how strange or bizarre it may be, you're not the only one who has that kink. Commentary: I receive a great deal of email from these pages; much of it along the lines of "I didn't realize other people had the same fantasies and ideas that I do!" The nice thing about living in a world of six billion people is that, no matter how weird or bizarre your turn-ons may be, yes, there are other people like you.
UNIFORM PLAY: Any of a wide variety of different forms of role play in which the wearing of uniforms, such as military uniforms, is a significant part of the role play. Commentary: Many people find uniforms, particularly uniforms that convey rank or indicate ierarchy or authority (such as police or military uniforms) arousing.
URTICATION: chemical play; especially, chemical play by applying stinging nettles to the skin.
UTILITY D/S: A specific type of D/s centered around using the submissive in utilitarian capacities; for example; the submissive may kneel and act as a table for the dominant to eat from, and so on. For people involved in utility D/s, sexual submission may or may not be a part of the relationship.
UTILITY GAG: A specific type of gag which has a special attachment point for various types of accessories, such as feather dusters, drink serving trays, ash trays, and so on. Used as a part of forniphilia or humiliation play, or to make the wearer into a tool during utility D/s.
VAGINAL HOOK: A smooth metal hook, usually about an inch thick and six to eight inches long, designed to be inserted into the vagina. The other end typically is bent into a loop into which a rope can be tied. See related anal hook.
VAMPIRE GLOVES: Gloves used for sensation play which have a large number of short spikes or needles protruding from the palms and/or fingers.
VANILLA: Colloquial Not interested in or involved with BDSM or activities related to BDSM; as, a vanilla person. Usage: Sometimes considered condescending or insulting.
VETO: See polyamory: »veto«.
VINCILAGNIA: Psychology Sexual arousal from tying up or otherwise physically restraining a partner.
VIOLET WAND: A device used for electrical play consisting of a handle, which contains a high-voltage coil called an "Oudin coil," and several interchangeable electrodes, most commonly made of glass and filled with a gas which glows a brilliant purple in the presence of an electrical field. Commentary: One of the most common and safest of electrical play devices, the violet wand works by creating a strong static electrical field on the electrode. The violet wand feels nothing like you might expect, and almost everyone I know, including people who believe they would hate anything related to electricity, wants one once they've felt it. Violet wands are often referred to as Tesla coils, though this is technically not quite accurate; an Oudin coil operates on similar principles, but the primary and secondary windings of an Oudin coil share a common core, while a Tesla coil is air cored.
VIPER: An instrument used for striking a person, consisting of a rigid handle and a small number of narrow, flat lashes made of thin rubber, each of which tapers to a point at the striking end.
WARTENBERG WHEEL: A small implement consisting of a short handle to which is affixed a small wheel with a number of sharp needle-like projections around its outer edge. Used by neurologists to test nerve function in the skin and by people in the BDSM community for sensation play.
WANNABE: Colloquial A disparaging term for a person, usually a self-identified dominant, who is inexperienced yet assumes knowlege or experience far exceeding his or her actual degree of expertise. Usage: An insulting term which indicates disrespect or contempt on the part of the speaker for the person so named. Commentary: Such people, because of their lack of experience, may be dangerous.
WATER SPORTS: Any of a class of activities involving urination, often urination on a person. See also golden shower.
WAXING: 1. The practice of dripping hot wax onto a person, as from a paraffin candle or from molten paraffin wax prepared in a double boiler, for the purpose of sensation play or pain play. 2. The practice of removing hair from the body by spreading a thick waxy substance on the body, allowing it to cool and harden, and then ripping it off suddenly, pulling out the hair by the roots.
WHIP: An implement used for striking people, consisting of one or more lashes (often made of leather or of some stiff material wrapped or braided in leather) affixed to a handle. 2. Any of a class of knots made by wrapping one part of a rope repeatedly around itself or around another rope. Also, verb 1. To strike with a whip, flogger, or similar object. 2. To strike repeatedly and rapidly. 3. Uncommon: To tie using a whip knot. 4. To trim the end of a rope by means of a whip knot, to prevent the rope from fraying. See also singletail, bullwhip, signal whip, tomcat, quirt, lunge whip.
WIFFLE GAG: A specific type of gag which has a hollow ball, usually made of hard plastic, with many holes in it that is held in the wearer's mouth by straps, and permits the wearer to breathe through the ball while wearing it.
WIITWD: Colloquial An acronym meaning "what it is that we do"--a shorthand for the entire spectrum of BDSM-related activities.
WOLF COLLAR: A type of collar featuring long spikes, usually made of metal, which project outward when it is worn.
WOODEN HORSE: An implement consisting of a wooden plank supported edgewise between two upright fixed posts, or of two sheets of wood coming together at a sharp angle with the edge facing up, to which a female submissive is bound with her legs off the floor. The submissive is bound in such a way she straddles plank or the point of the triangle, causing her entire body weight to rest on her clitoris. Some wooden horses include an integrated dildo which penetrates the person affixed to it. Commentary: Extremely painful. May cause nerve damage in the clitoris if not done carefully.
WOODEN PONY: An implement consisting of a wooden plank supported edgewise between two upright fixed posts, which a female submissive straddles and is bound in place. The plank is at such a height that the submissive's weight is not borne by the plank so long as she remains standing on tiptoes; as her legs tire, she will eventually have no choice but to lower herself onto the edge of the plank, which is extremely painful.
X-FRAME: See St. Andrew's Cross.
ZENTAI SUIT: A skin-tight full-body suit, often made of Spandex or a similar breathable material, that includes a full hood, most often without openings for the eyes or mouth. Such suits are often worn as part of a sexual fetish.
ZIE: See polyamory: »zie«.
ZIR: See polyamory: »zir«.
ZIP STRIP; also, ZIPPER: An arrangement of clothespins tied along a length of cord or twine, which can be placed on the body and then yanked off one by one or all at once.
ZIP TIE: See cable tie.