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The world of kink can be a little intimidating to curious newbies, even before you get swamped with all sorts of new terms, acronyms and slang. Therefore, we put together a basic beginner’s kink glossary of the most used BDSM expressions so you can explore life a little kinkier!


AFTERCARE: The time after a BDSM scene or play session in which the participants calm down, talk through the preceding events and their personal reactions to them, and slowly come back in touch with reality. There are several ways to perform aftercare and some people might need more or less time for this than another.

ASPHYXIATION: To cause a lack of oxygen e.g. by smothering or choking. It's sometimes used to cause a more intense orgasm.

 Bondage/Discipline, Dominance/Submission, Sadism/Masochism: a combined acronym often used as an all-rounderfor anything in the kink scene.

A tool used to partially or entirely obstruct one’s sight to heighten their other senses. Because men rely more on visual cues, wearing a blindfold or eye mask can decrease their arousal whilst it tends to have the opposite effect on women.

BONDAGE: The restriction of someone's bodily movements for erotic reasons using fastenings such as ropes, cuffs (hand & ankle), chains, hogties and other restraining apparatus.

BOTTOM: Someone who receives physical stimulation in a scene from a Top. The one-done-to rather than the do-er.

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

D/s: Short for Dominant and submissive. Play or relationships that involve an erotic power exchange.

DOMINANT (DOM/DOMME): A person who exercises control in a scene. The one in charge, who oversees and controls. A Dominant should be adept in many areas of sexual play for safety. When it’s written, it is capitalized and usually gendered, ‘Dom’ referring to a male and ‘Domme’ referring to a female Dominant.

DUNGEON: Although they are called ‘dungeons,’ they aren’t exactly cellar rooms in castles; this term simply refers to an indoor play space (in a club or someone's home), usually stocked with BDSM toys and furniture for kinky play.

EDGING: 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.

FETISH: A specific obsession or delight in an object or experience. An article or action that causes arousal in a person that wouldn't normally be considered sexual.

HARD LIMIT: What someone absolutely will not do; non-negotiable. (As opposed to "soft limits".)

IMPACT PLAY: A type of sensation play, dealing with impact such as whips, riding crops, paddles, floggers or erotic spanking.

MASOCHIST: Used to describe a person that enjoys receiving erotic pain during consensual sex play. A masochist may or may not have submissive qualities.

MUNCH: A munch is a social gathering for those who are interested in BDSM in street-appropriate attire. They are usually held at restaurants or bars, and do not involve ‘play’, just meeting and talking with people who have the same interests.

NEGOTIATION: Conversation held with the aim of outlining the niceties of a scene or D/s relationship. It is crucial that all parties agree on the specifics of the scene or relationship before any play takes place.

ONE TO TEN: A count used during a scene to verbalize the intensity of an activity the participants are experiencing or the intensity of contact they are ready to receive.

ORGASM CONTROL: When one is forced to release or hold their body's desires to orgasm.

OTK: Over the knee (spanking). This technique is highly erotic and can easily result in sexual arousal.

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 dungeon. Play parties have a list of rules that must be followed and usually there is a Dungeon Master/Mistress that ensures all rules for play are adhered to.

POWER EXCHANGE: The consensual giving up of control by the bottom and accepting of control by the Top during an BDSM scene or relationship. Used as a synonym for SM.

PRODOM/PRODOMME: A combination of ‘professional’ and ‘Dominant,’ this refers to someone whose job is to dominate submissive clients of either sex in exchange for money.

Bondage devices like hand & ankle cuffs, hogties or bed restraints.

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

ROPE BONDAGE: The restriction of someone's bodily movements for erotic reasons with the use of ropes. There are many styles of rope work from simple to very intricate. Study of knots is important to anyone wishing to attempt this play.

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.

SAFEWORD: A safeword is a pre-agreed upon word, phrase or non-verbal sign 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; or a session of play between partners, usually with a defined beginning, middle, and end.

SENSATION PLAY: DSM play where the intent is to push people's sensory limits by e.g. exploring texture, temperature or sensory deprivation.

SENSORY DEPRIVATION: Play which involves "depriving" someone of certain sensory perceptions in an erotic manner. May include blindfolds, earplugs, bondage, gags, etc.

SOFT LIMITS: Something that someone is hesitant to do or nervous to try. 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.

SPANKING: Involves striking someone with the palm of the hand or other object (i.e. paddle, hairbrush, flogger, riding crop, etc.) on the buttocks as a form of punishment/humiliation. Mild spanking can be very erotic and, when done correctly, can push the submissive into "subspace" releasing endorphins which in turn creates a sense of euphoria.

SSC: These initials refer to ‘Safe, Sane & Consensual,’ a necessary principle 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 agreed to all activity and were in the right state of mind to do so.

SUBMISSIVE: or "sub" for short. 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 either all the time or for a specified period.

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 (when the sub may feel disconnected from time, space, and/or their body, and may have limited ability to communicate), 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, either in one scene or on different occasions. This way they can get both experiences.

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

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. The person "doing the action".

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. Similarly to the sub drop it might be followed by a top drop - the feelings of depression, guilt, etc. that may arise in a Dominant after BDSM play, especially if wrapping or other error occurs.

VANILLA: An adjective used 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.

WARM UP: The period at a beginning of a BDSM scene which involves gentle play, allowing the bottom to begin endorphin production, enter subspace, that will accommodate more intense play.

WRAPPING: A term used to describe when a whip or flogger stroke strikes along the side of the body or other area outside of the 'safe zone'. This is usually a sign of lack of skill or carelessness on the part of the Dominant. It can also be caused by a jumpy submissive - moving targets are tricky.