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.

Adult Babies – Age play wherein the submissive is the baby. This may include nappy play, powdering, wearing a dummy, sleeping in a coy, etc. Rarely taken to a 24/7 extreme.

Aftercare – The time after a BDSM scene or play session in which the participants calm down, discuss the previous events and their personal reactions to them, and slowly come back in touch with reality. BDSM often involves an endorphin high and very intense experience, and failure to engage in proper aftercare can lead to subdrop as these return to more everyday levels.

Age Play – Play that involves assuming the role of someone of a different age. Most commonly, one of the adults takes on the younger role, usually in the submissive capacity.

Animal Training – Training where the Dominant has his submissive play the part of an animal, such as horses and dogs. The most common is “puppy play”.

Anal Beads – A set of strung beads used to insert into the anus to stimulate the anal nerves as foreplay or to cause orgasm.

Anal Play – This is generally play where the anus may be penetrated with either beads, ice, dildos, anal plugs, penis, or fist. Rimming the anus with a finger or toys stimulates the nerves which can create a more intense orgasm. Inserting and playing with one’s prostate gland (males) will cause increased orgasm.

Arm / Leg Sleeves – Play which involves binding the arms/legs of the submissive in an attempt to restrict mobility.

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.


Ball Gag – A device with a rubber ball and straps, which secures the ball in the bottom’s mouth to stifle screams.

Ball Stretching – The practice of stretching the scrotal sack so that it hangs lower using weights or other devices to pull on it above the testicles. As the sack is pulled, the testicles are squeezed leading to discomfort and sometime pain.

Ball Torture – Causing pain to the male testicles, also included in CBT or cock and ball torture.

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.

B&D, B/D, B/d – Bondage and Discipline. Although they go together in this phrase, they are not inextricably linked. Bondage means restraining someone in a helpless position (Such as being tied up.) Discipline is training a person to behave in a certain way. They tend to go together because Dominants tend to do both to their submissive.

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.

BDSM Toy Box – A place where one keeps their BDSM gear or play equipment.

Blindfold – By blocking out sight – a common technique in SM scene – the bottom feels more vulnerable and increases the release of endorphins, thus contributing to the excitement in the scene.

Blood sports – A group of techniques in which the submissive’s skin is broken and blood is allowed to escape. Such as cutting, using needles, etc.

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.

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 – Making a submissive physically helpless and to a great extent immobilized. Techniques include rope ties, handcuffs, leather cuffs, stocks and mummification.

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.

Bootlicking – Licking and cleaning of a Dominant’s boots by a submissive is a common show of submission. Can also be a fetish.

Bottom – A submissive.

Boy Toy – A male who is submissive to a dominant. Dominant can be either male or female.

Branding – Making a permanent or semi-permanent scar on the skin by burning it with a heated metal object. Usually used by a Master to “mark” his slave as his property.

Brat – Term for a sub who tries to get the attention of a Dom/Master by “acting up.”

Breast Bondage – Tying up the female breasts with rope.

Breath Control – another type of “edgeplay” whereby the submissive’s breath is stopped for a short period of time to increase pleasurable sensations. Also called asphyxiaphilia, autoerotic asphyxiation, breath games, breathplay and hypoxyphilia. Very Dangerous.

Bukake – Sexual scene where many men masturbate on and give a “semen bath” to a willing submissive.

Bullwhip – A long, heavy leather whip usually longer than 4 feet.

Butterfly Board – A wood board where a male’s scrotum can be nailed or pinned onto.

Buttplug – a “sextoy” shaped to fit into and stay inside the rectum.

Buttplug Harness – Usually a leather harness that prevents a buttplug from being removed either intentionally or accidentally from the rectum.


Cages – Most common is the use of a large animal cage. Construction of a cage can be of wood, steel, fencing material. Used to confine the submissive, for play or punishment.

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.

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.

Catherine’s Wheel – A large, upright wheel, usually made of wood, to which a person may be bound and then rotated to any position.

Catheterization – The act or process of inserting a catheter, often as a part of a medical role play.

CBT/Cock and Ball torture – 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.

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. Also sometimes called chastity play, enforced chastity.

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.

Cinch Knot – A specific type of knot made by passing a rope or line through an opening, then around and around itself several times, and finally through a loop near the opening.

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 Bondage – Tying or restraining the penis.

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.

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. 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.

Collared – The condition of having engaged in a committed, long-term relationship to a dominant, often by means of a collaring ceremony of some kind.

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 (Total Power Exchange) 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.

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.

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.

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.


D/s- Dominance and submission.

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.

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.

Dominatrix – A dominant, usually female and often a prodomme.

Domme – A female dominant.

Douche, Douching – Injecting of a liquid, usually water, into the asshole or pussy, usually for hygiene purposes prior to sex or ass play.

Dungeon – Any place specifically set up for BDSM activities, often equipped specifically for BDSM play, as with furniture such as racks, crosses, and the like.

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.
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 arrhythmia or heart attack.

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.

Exhibitionist – One who is sexually aroused by showing others his or her body or by being watched, particularly in a sexual setting or while engaged in sexual activity.

Exhibitionism – The act of engaging in exhibitionistic behavior, such as sexual behavior, for the sexual gratification of the person being watched.


FemDom – A power exchange relationship in which the dominant is female. Often (but not always) used to refer to a relationship between a female dominant and a male submissive.

Feminisation – 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.

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.

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.

Financial Domination – Controlling another’s financial matters or money.

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.

Fish Hook/Hooking – 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.

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.

Forced Orgasm – An orgasm induced in a person against that person’s will or as part of resistance play, often by means of bondage combined with sexual stimulation. See related consensual non-consent.

Foot Worship – A foot fetish where the submissive worships the Dominants feet, usually in high heel shoes or boots.

Freeplay – BDSM activities in which there is no domination or submission.


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, form fitting 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.

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.


Hard Limit – A limit which is considered to be absolute, inflexible, and non-negotiable. Contrast soft limit.

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.

Hogtie – 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 while the person lies on his or her stomach. Also, verb to tie in a hogtie.

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 satisfactorily; with this form of D/s, sexual submission may or may not be part of the arrangement.

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.


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 related adult baby.

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.

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.


Japanese Bondage – See shibari.


Kennel Play – A specific form of puppy play in which the submissive is confined to a kennel or doghouse as part of the play.

Knife Play – A specific form of “edgeplay” where the Dominant uses a knife to either cut or tease the submissive.


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.


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.

Masochist – One who gets pleasure from pain.

Master – A dominant, usually in a TPE relationship. Usually male; the female equivalent is a mistress. Contrast slave.

Military Play – A specific form of role play which involves military-style settings, uniforms, hierarchy, or protocol.

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.

Mistress – Female equivalent of a master.

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.


Needle Play – Activity involving placing needles through the top layer of skin, or using needles for temporary piercings.

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. Clothes pegs make good (and cheap!) nipple clamps.

Nipple Torture – To cause pain to the nipples. Typically by using nipple clamps, needles, mousetraps, pulling and twisting, etc.

Nipple Shield – Decorative nipple jewelry the encircles or even covers the nipple.

Nipple Weights – Usually weights suspended from either nipple clamps or from nipple piercings.


Objectification – Sexual arousal from any act in which one person is dehumanized or dehumanizes another. Animalism, and some forms of humiliation play and utility D/s, involve objectification.

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.

Over the Knee (OTK) – A style of spanking in which the dominant or top is seated and turns the submissive or bottom over his or her knee so as to spank the buttocks.

Overseer’s Whip – A type of single tail, 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.


Paddle – Any stiff, hard implement, often made of wood, used for striking a person, most commonly on the buttocks. Also, verb to strike with a paddle.

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.

Pain Slut – Colloquial A masochist who enjoys forms of pain play involving large amounts of pain.

Paingasm – Colloquial An orgasm achieved through painful stimulation.

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.

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.

Play Party – 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.

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.

Popper – Colloquial A vial of amyl nitrate, butyl nitrate, cyclohexyl nitrite, or any similar high-volatility organic nitrate or nitrite compound, whose vapors produce euphoria and sometimes heightened sexual sensation when inhaled.

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.

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 nonexistent.

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.

Psychological Bondage – Bondage without the use of ropes or other restraints, in which the submissive is simply commanded not to move.
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.


Quirt – A type of whip with two or (occasionally) three short lashes affixed to a long, thin handle.


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.

Rimming – Tongue contact with the rectum or arsehole.

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.

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.


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 pre arranged 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.

Scat; also Scat Play – Any activity involving feces.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Sissy – A male submissive subject to feminization, as by being made to wear women’s clothing, act like a woman in social settings, and so on.
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.

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.

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.

Spank – To strike on the buttocks, either with an open hand or with a paddle.

Spanking Bench – A low bench, often padded and often equipped with restraints or tie-down points, over which a person can be bent or tied and spanked or flogged.

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.

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.

Spreadeagle – A posture in which a person is bound or restrained with the legs spread apart and the arms spread wide with the hands over the person’s head.
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.

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.

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.

Submit – To give up power or control. A person who gives up power or psychological control to another is said to submit to that person. Submission: the act of giving up control.
Suspension – suspending a submissive with ropes, webbing or chain so that no part of the body touches the floor. Not recommended for beginners.

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).


Tawse – An instrument used for striking or whipping a person, consisting of a thick, heavy leather strap which splits into two or three parallel tails at the striking end.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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 hierarchy or authority (such as police or military uniforms) arousing.


Vanilla – Colloquial Not interested in or involved with BDSM or activities related to BDSM; as, a vanilla person. Usage: Sometimes considered condescending or insulting.

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.

Voyeur – One who is excited or aroused by watching others, particularly in a sexual context or while engaged in sexual activity.

Voyeurism – The act of engaging in voyeuristic behavior.


Watersports – Any of a class of activities involving urination, often urination on a person. See also golden shower.

Wax Play – 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.