This Terminology Guide is here to answer those basic questions in the BDSM community. Not everyone who is involved with BDSM is into everything listed here; many of the practices described in this guide are quite rare.
Age Play – Acting as if you were either younger or perhaps older than you really are.
Animal Role Playing – Games in which one or more partners takes on the role of an animal..
Arm / Leg Sleeves – Devices used in play which bind arm or legs to restrict mobility.
Aromas – Also referred to as “poppers” are volatile compounds whose vapors cause temporarily increased heart and breathing rates, muscle relaxation, and a “rushing” feeling in the head. These are very popular in the gay community.
B&D – Bondage and Discipline
Ball Stretching – Play which involves a type of penile constraint attached to weights in order to provide a variety of sensations including discomfort and pain, while stretching the testicles and scrotum.
Bathroom Use Control – A restriction on bodily functions through the use of techniques such as catheterization, enemas, diapers, rubber pants, and possibly golden showers.
Biting – Scenes involving the biting of the skin to induce pain. Safety Note: Although certain types of nibbling/biting are quite safe, extreme biting causing breaking/bleeding of the skin is not recommended and can be very dangerous as the human mouth contains bacteria that can cause potentially deadly staph infections if skin is broken via a bite.
Blindfolds – which involves temporarily blocking the submissive’s sense of sight. Use care so as not to make the blindfold too tight and put pressure on the eyeballs.
Breast / Chest Bondage – The restriction/bondage a woman’s breast area for erotic play. It involves using various types of fastenings i.e., rope, scarves, etc.
Breath Control – Refers to play involving control of or restriction of air intake or oxygen to the brain and may include hood play or any kind of compression of the neck/throat area that prevents the flow of oxygen to the brain. All types of breath control games are extremely dangerous and extreme caution must be applied when playing.
Branding – Making a permanent or semi-permanent scar on the skin by burning it with a hot metal object, as practiced on livestock. Seen by some as “body art”, this play practice may be carried out through use of temporary tattoos or markers.
Boot Worship – The practice of play involving a fetish for boots / shoes.
Bondage – The restriction of a person’s bodily movements for erotic reasons using fastenings of various types or textures examples: Rope, cuffs, chains, and other restraining apparatus.
Breast Whipping – Whipping breasts using a variety of items i.e. floggers, whips, cat tails, and paddles
Bruising – A condition which may occur as a result of pinching or striking. Care should be taken to avoid bruising.
Cage Play – A cage used to confine a submissive for play or punishment.
Caning – Canes are often made from bamboo and are capable of inflicting intense pain. Care should be used, as the welts from caning are slow to rise, and blood can easily be drawn if not careful. Caning should be limited to the fleshy part of the buttocks, and nowhere else on the body. Caning is not for the novice.
Chains – A strong metal type of bondage material used in bondage scenes. Chains are less flexible and potentially more dangerous than other types of bondage material.
Chastity Device – Is a lockable device which physically prevents males or females from achieving orgasm or any form of genital stimulation. Its use is a means of domination.
Choking – (Breath Control) Compression of the carotid arteries in order to restrict air or blood flow to the brain. This form of play is dangerous.
Cock & Ball (C&B) Torture – any form of restraint or orgasm control to a male’s genitals.
Cock Ring – Rubber, metal, or leather type ring used to strap around the base of the cock and balls when soft. C-rings increase engorgement of the penis shaft during sex. C-rings should not be worn for extended durations (no more than 20 minutes at a time).
Cock Worship – Play which involves the fantasy of worshiping the cock. Female dominants may use strap-ons that are worshiped by their sub partner.
Collar – A neck collar worn to indicate one’s submissiveness and may be made of leather, steel, rubber, rope.
Cuffs – A leather or metal bondage device used to restrict movement. Usually locks around the limbs in order to place the submissive in a precarious position.
Dominant – The one in charge, or the top which oversees and controls.
Dominatrix – A female dominant
Dom – A male dominant
Electricity – Using electricity in BDSM play can be safe provided that the devices are powered by low-voltage batteries and contacts are not placed above the waist (including hands or arms). Even small currents to the heart or brain can disrupt those organs ‘electrical activity with serious consequences. Popular devices include “TENS” units designed for the relief of muscle and back pain; and “Violet Wands” which use a radio frequency discharge.
Enemas – A thorough anal cleaning involving a water bottle and tube.
Exhibitionism – Common dictionary term meaning a perversion marked by a tendency to indecent exposure; an act of such exposure; the act of practicing or behaving in such a manner as to attract attention to oneself.
Eye Contact Restrictions – Restricting one’s submissive from any eye contact with the Dominant (i.e., forcing submissive to look away / look down).
Face Slapping – Involves play where a moderate amount of slapping of the face is used for humiliation and control.
Fantasy Rape – Scenes where the Dominant fulfills a submissive’s fantasy of rape. Note: This type of play can be emotional for the submissive and both parties must be aware of that when performing this type of play.
Flogger – A whip device usually with many “tails”.
Foot Worship – The practice of play involving a fetish for feet and often includes kissing a sucking feet and toes.
Gag – Is a device inserted into the oral cavity to restrict the use of the mouth and may be fabricated from a variety of materials including cloth, leather and plastic.
Golden Shower – Play which involves urinating on one’s submissive or vice versa.
Hair Pulling – Pulling of one’s hair for the purpose of pain, control or humiliation.
Harness – Bondage apparatus consisting of a network of straps designed to form a web over a large area of the body or head. Harnesses can be constructed from a variety of materials. Some harnesses built properly are used in suspension.
Hot Wax – The act of dripping hot wax, often from candles, on a partner’s body is done to add unique sensation to play. Some types of wax can become extremely hot during burning and care should be used to prevent burns.
Humiliation – Is a common fetish wherein a submissive may be required to behave as they normally would not.
Ice Play – ice used on nipples or genital areas for desensitization of senses or nerves.
Japanese Rope Bondage (Shibari) – Rope bondage that utilizes artistic, complex and decorative knot techniques. The submissive is bonded in such a way as to allow easy removal of the device at any time.
Knife Play – Cutting the surface of the skin with sharp objects, generally a knife, for the thrill, sensation, or pain.
Leather – Wearing leather is a popular sexual fetish. Leather, especially the wearing of black leather gives the wearer a certain sense of power and is commonly worn in the BDSM scene by the Dominant.
Manacles / Irons – Are metal rings joined by a chain to restrain wrists or ankles.
Mouth Bits – A type of mouthpiece, generally used on horses. Used typically during pony girl / boy play scenes.
Nipple Clamps – Clamp-type devices placed on the nipples during play to stimulate and stop blood flow to the nipple. Care should be exercised to be sure the material used in clamp does not stick to the skin as tearing can occur.
Nipple Rings – A ring that is worn through the nipple. Piercing of the nipple and inserting a ring, similar to nose piercing, should be done by a professional.
Orgasm Control – When one is forced to release or hold their body’s desires to orgasm
Outdoor Scenes – Scenes involving the great outdoors.
Pain – In broad terms, pain is the body’s warning that something is wrong; however, our pain responses are very complex and it is relatively easy to produce pain without doing real harm. The “pain threshold” at which a stimulus crosses the boundary between intense sensation and pain is a perceptive gray area that varies at different times and in different people. Some people gain satisfaction or release from the intense physical sensation of pain. Some of that satisfaction may be attributed to the release of endorphins. In most BDSM play there is a mixture of physical and psychological and some partners play with very little pain at all. Those for whom the interest in pain is predominant are sometimes referred to sadists and masochists rather than dominants and submissives.
Piercing – Piercing of the body with a thin sharp object such as a needle. There are two types of play, permanent and temporary. Permanent piercing is done with a thicker needle which enables jewelry to be easily inserted. Temporary piercing is done with a smaller, thinner needle which can be removed without permanent scarring after the session is completed. Piercing should be done by a professional.
Pony gear – This type of gear includes hoods, bits for mouth, bridles, straps, harnesses, saddles and anal plug tails.
Pony Slave – Scenes involving the submissive being dressed or made up as to portray a “pony”. Scenes might include mouth bits, harnesses, saddles, riding crops, etc.
Pussy Whipping – “Whipping” the genital area with different types of equipment (i.e., floggers, crops, slappers, etc.) for erotic pleasure.
Pussy Worship – Is the practice of “worshiping” female genitalia often involving extended cunnilingus.
Riding Crop – A short whip-type instrument made of leather with a “loop” at the end which is intended for use on horses. May be used in scenes involving pony boy / girl type play. Riding crops are used to administer punishment, as well.
Rubber & Latex – The use of rubber and latex devices and clothing are common fetishes. Rubber and latex garments are often skin tight and add a restrictive or sensation dynamic to play.
S&M – Sadism and Masochism also known as Sadomasochism (SM)
Safe Word – A specific word or other signal used, by prior agreement, to indicate play is too intense or must cease.
Scratching – Scratching the body with the fingernails or another instrument for mild pain. Safety precautions should be observed as deep scratching may lead to bleeding of the skin and care should be exercised to prevent infection.
Sensory Deprivation – Play which involves “depriving” the submissive of certain sensory perceptions and may include blindfolds, hoods, restraints, gags, etc.
Slave – A totally subordinate person who defers direction of their life/play to a master. A slave is a person who has an on-going, structured relationship with a dominant.
Slings – Slings are made in many designs and shapes, but their use is to open access to the genitalia for play or punishment. This form of suspension causes fatigue rather quickly, so after-care should be taken as well as care during such use. Not for beginners.
Spanking – Involves striking someone with the palm of the hand or other object (on the buttocks as a form of punishment or humiliation. Mild spanking can be very erotic and can release endorphins that create a sense of euphoria.
Speculum – A medical instrument intended for the use of medical examination of the vagina or rectum, made of steel or plastic in the shape of a duckbill. The speculum is lubricated and inserted. After insertion, the “bill” is spread apart to open the vagina. This form of play can be dangerous and is not for beginners.
Spreader Bar – A bar device used to spread apart arms and/or legs of their partner.
Strapping – A length of material, most commonly leather, used for striking the body.
Submissive – Is one who gives freely of themselves for the pleasures of their partner.
Suspension – An advanced form of bondage in which the whole body is “suspended” off the ground and hanging “free in space”. Not for the novice, use of properly designed equipment is advised.
Switch – Is one who switches between dominant and submissive roles. Some switches may submit to one dominant, and dominate others, etc.
Thigh Cuffs – A belted device worn around the waist with connected straps used to restrict movement of arms and legs.
Thumb Cuffs – Restraining devices used for restraint by the thumbs.
Ticklers – These are 16 to 18 inch rods with a tiny flogger or tickler attached on the end.
Urethral Play – Play involving the “urethra”, the tube that runs between the bladder and the outside of the body. In men, it emerges at the end of the penis, and in women, just inside the vagina. With the exception of the very end, this tube is sterile, and anything inserted deeper than a few millimeters should be sterile as well. Serious damage can occur by inserting inappropriate devices, using excessive force, or by bad technique. This form of play is extremely dangerous and not for the novice.
Whipping – Whipping the body with a whip type device consisting of a long, flexible striking surface as a form of punishment.