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Terms of Entanglement: A BDSM & Kink Glossary

The world of kink can be a little intimidating to curious beginners, even before you get inundated with all sorts of new terms, slang and acronyms. Below, we’ve assembled a basic beginner’s guide to some of the most common BDSM terms so you can explore life a little kinkier!

Terms of Entanglement: A BDSM & Kink Glossary

Aftercare: The time you and your partner take after play to recover and also to see to each other’s emotional and physical needs. There are several ways to administer aftercare and some people might need more or less than another.

BDSM: BDSM: Bondage/Discipline, Dominance/Submission, Sadism/Masochism: a combined acronym often used as a catchall for anything in the kink scene.

Blindfold: A blindfold is an implement used to partially or completely obstruct someone’s sight so as to heighten their other senses.

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Bondage: The enjoyment or sexual gratification through the act of being restrained.

 

Bottom: Someone who receives physical stimulation in a scene from a Top.

Chastity: Erotic sexual denial or orgasm denial wherein one partner restricts stimulation of (or access to) the other partner’s erogenous areas.

Consent: Critical to any sexual relationship, consent in the BDSM community entails agreeing on all the acts that are ok and not ok in a particular scene.

D/s: Shorthand for Dominant and submissive.

Dominant (Dom/Domme): A person who exercises control in a scene. When it’s written, it is capitalized and usually gendered, ‘Dom’ referring to a male and ‘Domme’ referring to a female Dominant.

Dungeon: Even though they are called ‘dungeons,’ they aren’t basement rooms in castles; the term simply refers to an indoor space (in some clubs or private homes) used specifically for BDSM play , usually stoked with toys and furniture for kinky play.

Black Sensua suede whipEdging: Edging is a form of orgasm control (sometimes called orgasm denial) that involves coming close to climax and then ‘coming back from the edge.’ In the context of BDSM, a Dominant may bring and keep their submissive close to orgasm but not let them climax as a form of domination.

Flogger: A flogger is a device used to whip or gently tease the skin of someone during play, made of several strands attached to a stiff handle.

Hard Limit: This is an unchangeable limit, something that a participant in a BDSM scene (Dominant or submissive) will not do or participate in.

Hogtie: A bondage position that involves securing the ankles to the wrists with handcuffs, ropes or ties behind someone’s back to immobilize them.

Impact Play: Impact play is any play that involves striking a partner for the sexual gratification of one or both partners; it includes erotic spanking or flogging.

Masochist: A masochist is someone who enjoys receiving physical pain or emotional humiliation during consensual sex play. Not all masochists are submissive, nor are all submissives masochist.

Munch: A munch is a social gathering for those who are interested in BDSM. They are usually held at restaurants or bars, and do not involve ‘play,’ just meeting and talking with people who have the same interests, so they’re great to go to if you’re a curious beginner.

Nipple Clamps: Nipples clamps are a type of sex toy that pinch and squeeze the erect nipple for a mixed sensation of pain and pleasure.

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Pegging: Pegging is when a female partner penetrates their male partner with a strap on, which can be incorporated into BDSM play as a form of domination, but does not inherently put a man in a submissive role.

 

Play Party: A play party is a gathering of people interested in BDSM for the purpose of engaging in kinky sexual play together, either at a private home or at a business like a dungeon.

ProDom/ProDomme: A portmanteau of ‘professional’ and ‘Dominant,’ this refers to someone whose job is to dominant submissive clients of either sex in exchange for money.

Pony Play: This is a type of D/s play where the Dominant plays the owner or trainer of their submissive, who let their partner ride on their back, or may wear bridles, bits, or harnesses to create a specific look. Sometimes tails and whips are incorporated into this play.

Pup Play: Pup play is a type of D/s relationship where the Dominant is very caring of their submissive, but will expect obedience from their sub, and their play may incorporate leashes and collars.

Role Play: Sexual role playing involves taking on a character to play (sometimes with costumes) to indulge in fantasy with your partner.

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Sadist: A sadist is someone who gets sexually aroused by causing pain or humiliation to their consenting partner, and usually (but not always) takes a Dominant role in a D/s relationship.               

 

SSC: This initialism refers to ‘Safe, Sane & Consensual,’ a necessary tenet of BDSM play. ‘Safe’ means that the risk associated with activities is understood by all participants and either eliminated or reduced as much as possible. ‘Sane’ refers to approaching play in a sensible and realistic frame of mind, and with an understanding of the difference between fantasy and reality. ‘Consensual’ means that all participants have discussed and freely consented to all activity and were in the right state of mind to do so.

Safeword: A safeword is a pre-agreed upon word or phrase used by both Dominants and submissives to stop or slow down play when they become uncomfortable.

Scene: The term ‘scene’ can be used to describe the BDSM community, but also commonly refers to a session of play between partners, usually with a defined beginning, middle, and end. It may or may not include sexual activity, and can take place in private place or in a dungeon.

Soft Limits: soft limit is different than a hard limit in that it is flexible; something that a Dominant or submissive may not be comfortable with when first negotiated but might change after they become comfortable with each other, or only in specific circumstances or situations.

Submissive: A submissive (usually written in lower case letters) is someone who enjoys and will willingly give up some or all control to a Dominant partner.

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Subspace: Subspace is a mental state that can be described as similar to getting ‘sucked in’ to a movie or book and is brought on and experienced both physiologically and psychologically. Physiologically, it follows the rush of endorphins and other chemicals from sensations like spanking, and psychologically it manifests when you are drawn to a Dom. This can be a very euphoric feeling that may be followed by a ‘drop,’ which is why aftercare is quite important.

 

Switch: A switch is someone who will participate in kink as both a Dominant and a submissive, sometimes only taking a certain role with certain partners, or switching within the same relationship so that each person can get both experiences.

Teaser: Sometimes called a ‘tickler,’ this is a toy used in sensation play that uses soft feathers to give light, gentle sensations.

Temperature Play: Temperature play is a type of sensation play that uses warm and cold objects to stimulate the skin.

Top: A top is someone who gives rather than receives sensation during play.

Topspace: Less talked about than subspace, topspace is a similar altered state during a scene, but is often described as becoming hyper-focused on their submissive rather than a feeling of letting go.

Vanilla: An adjective use to describe people who are not interested in kinky sex, or to describe non-kinky sex. What might seem vanilla for one person may be kinky for another.


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