I don’t know who gets to name sex acts, but whoever was in charge did a poor job. If you don’t use crass terms, an approach I recommend, you’re typically left with either the scientific term or common slang. Oftentimes, neither of those is appealing.
Now I’m also a believer in symbolic language, a la Song of Songs, but forgoing talk of fruit and gardens for the moment, let’s talk about five sex words I’d really like to change.
Intercourse literally means to run between, meaning a message conveyed back and forth. It was originally used to talk about trade, then social communication, and finally some misguided person in the 18th century coined the term “sexual intercourse.” Of course, that got shortened to intercourse, and now we’re stuck with it. Even though it sounds about as clinical as one can get.
Oh, I take that back. There’s also coitus and copulation. How do these people manage to make a sweaty, sexy, super-fun experience sound like a boring professor’s lecture? No wonder people have coined other phrases for this act — everything from “make love” to “the mattress mambo” to “the beast with two backs” (thanks for that one, Shakespeare).
One other option to refer to simple intercourse would be to talk about marital congress. Which is actually a nice phrase, given that congress is a compilation of roots that mean “to walk” and “together.” Unfortunately, as an American, I’d argue that our Congress has put at risk, or even ruined for some, the positive connotations of that word altogether. Alas, we shall move on.
2. Blow Job
Who knows where we got this term! There’s certainly no blowing involved. Unless you’re talking about that final moment when your husband ejaculates, and you could yell, “Thar she blows!” Actually, don’t do that — his penis is neither a whale nor a she.
Also, I object to the word job, as if I got hired to do this task or have to roll up my sleeves and put in 9-to-5 on this goal.
Other names for this act don’t strike me as any better: giving head, knob job, and the oh-so-scientific fellatio. I recently suggested to my podcast partners that we call it “giving popsicle.” I mean, who doesn’t like a popsicle? And what husband doesn’t want to experience being treated like his wife’s personal popsicle? Just sayin’.
3. Doggy Style
I’ve both written and talked about how terrible this name for a sexual position is. What wife wants to be compared to a dog?
But when I try to get around this, I end up saying stuff like “rear entry,” which can get confused with something else that I definitely don’t mean. Not to mention that rear entry doesn’t sound appealing either.
What should we call this sexual position where a husband inserts his penis into his wife’s vagina from behind? I’m kind of at a loss. (And do not Google this. I foolishly did, and immediately clicked away from three sites that were not good. No visuals, just words, but trust me on this.) Maybe we could try the kneel & squeal, since that’s what could happen with husband and wife when you try this position.
The etymology of this word is just fine, with it meaning to set up or erect — exactly what happens to the penis when it’s aroused. But it also sounds unnecessarily formal. Perhaps because the most common occurrences of the word erection these days is in commercials for erectile dysfunction drugs (“If your erection lasts more four hours, call your doctor”).
Of course, there’s the tried-and-true hard-on, as well as boner (usually considered a crasser term), and stiffy. Or you could get creative with full salute or pocket rocket. Yeah, despite my issues with the clinical sound of the term erection, I’ll probably keep using it rather than adopt any of these terms as my go-to word.
I also considered revisiting the word penis, but it’s not such a bad-sounding word and there are a gazillion other words for that body part. Meanwhile, we’re all stuck saying vagina to name that canal wives use for marital congress. Indeed, vagina literally means sheath, like the sheath of an ear of grain; that is, hull or husk. Guess that makes the husband’s part the sword or an ear of corn. Weird.
Regardless, vagina isn’t a pretty-sounding word for an area the Bible refers to in its talk of a garden. Not that I’m suggesting we suddenly all call women’s vaginas gardens. If I tried that on this blog, I’d have to explain the meaning nearly every time.
Instead, when referring to sex, I vote for calling it the tunnel of love. You know, like those old amusement park rides where lovers sat in a two-person boat and entered a dark tunnel to experience private, intimate interaction. I can already hear all the husbands saying, “Oh yeah. Best. Ride. Ever.” What do you think? Would tunnel of love catch on?
And what other ideas do you have for words you’d like to change or synonym suggestions for the ones I mentioned?
Note: No R-rated comments. Some of the words I used here are probably uncomfortable for some readers already, and I want us to be lighthearted but also responsible in how we talk about God’s creation.
57 thoughts on “5 Sex Words I Really Want to Change”
J, love this post! It’s so true that we tend to have either clinical terms that seem ugly or boring, or else we have slang terms that seem ugly or crass, especially since we are trying to describe something that is incredibly beautiful and sacred.
I offer no suggestions for terms, but instead challenge your readers to learn a love for poetry. Over the centuries, many poets have used choice words and imagery to describe not only passionate love, but the sexual arousal caused by the beloved. For example, in the 17th century, Robert Herrick wrote:
Whenas in silks my Julia goes,
Then, then (methinks) how sweetly flows
That liquefaction of her clothes.
Next, when I cast mine eyes, and see
That brave vibration each way free,
O how that glittering taketh me!
Now I fully understand that poem and what he’s describing. Like many men, I walk behind my wife when we are shopping, mainly because I enjoy the view.
One way to recapture a bit of this is to learn to enjoy poetry, write passionate love letters, and realize that while we are talking about something as physical as sex, we are also talking about something very spiritual, something that unites a husband and wife like nothing else.
(By the way, I don’t even really like the phrase “have sex”like it’s some “thing” I’m out to get. I don’t want sex, I want my wife. I prefer to say we are making love.
I recall a Christian songwriter who got in massive trouble for releasing a track called Love Cocoon – you would have thought by the Pharisaical reaction from reviewers and his peers that he’d proposed doing a cover of Spinal Tap’s Big Bottom. And on that front, he was referring to the vag – or as David St Hubbins referred to how his SO “fits me like a flesh tuxedo”…
In the words of Nipsey Russell….
The opposite of pro is con.
That fact is clearly seen.
If progress means move forward,
Then what does congress mean?
Intercourse- we like fooling around. As a guy I can deal with more vulgarity here. Not to lessen anything of marital love making, but because it’s such fun, down & dirty, hot & heavy.
Blow job- I like the popsicle. Most anything licking out of pleasure fits.
Doggy style- I agree but I’m not opposed, for lack of a better word(s). Maybe lovin from behind. We don’t usually use terminology for this most times. We just do it. From behind is our goto if we do.
Erection- again being a guy I’m ok with vulgarity with this. I think boner is too comical tho. Bone, hard on, & the 2 more vulgar ones is what we go with. Strong tower is biblical. I wouldn’t think that wrong with God’s word likened to seed as well.
Vagina- tunnel has a bad connotation of being large. That isn’t arousing to me. Vagina is ok. The main vulgar term is ok for us. Though I do appreciate my wife wanting a more useful, delicate, less other-side-of-the-tracks term. We use the butterfly emoji in texts.
Since, the world has hijacked God’s sex I say don’t be afraid to use whatever term you like as long as it’s consensual & within God’s boundaries.
Fun post. Respect.
I’m personally not okay with the crass terms for a woman’s vagina…and a lot of women agree with me. But I really like that butterfly emoji idea!
And a lot of women disagree with you also. My wife uses p***y 95% of the time. Both when referring to it during sex and when not. Seriously, there’s nothing hotter than hearing her call it that during sex.
Ooh, I hate that. But you know, my understanding is that the younger generations do not view that word the same either. Some of our preferences may be related to age, geography, culture, and more.
I like the post. It makes interesting points. Can you tell me what your issue with the crass words use to describe a women’s vagina and/or is it crass words all together.
I don’t appreciate degrading language in any context, and since the crass words for a vagina (or vulva) are often used in porn, erotica, or hook-up contexts, they seem to me to lower the value of your lover’s body. Also, I see no precedence for such talk about sexual intimacy in the Bible — e.g., the lovers in Song of Songs are poetic, playful, and rather frank at times, but not crass.
Colossians 3:8 says: “But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth” (ESV). The NLT simply translates this verse: “But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language.”
The butterfly emoji—inspired.
My husband and I find the phrase “making love” awkward to use in conversation even though I really appreciate the sweetness and affection it connotes.
We aren’t big on using slang unless we are joking with each other in a silly way.
I’ve always despised the crass, profane words used in place of vagina. It sickens me to hear anyone use the words or to see them in print. We’ve always taught our children the anatomical names for every body part in hopes that it normalizes all body parts so none are considered shameful.
One thing I’ve always had trouble finding a proper term for is the actual ejaculate (a noun here). The c-word (so as not to offend) I’ve seen most commonly used seems very crass to me and “love-juice” is almost as bad!
I love the poetry commenters have posted! So refreshing! We just have to avoid limericks, lol!
Ooh, that’s an interesting one: ejaculate also sounds so clinical and kind of icky. I have used “c-m,” because it’s the term I grew up hearing so much that it struck me as slang rather than dirty, but I understand that not everyone feels that way. When you look up actual synonyms, it’s stuff like spew, squirt, spray, splash…lot of s words. But maybe this last one has possibilities: stream. Hmmm.
And what are your thoughts—J.’s and fellow commenters’—on c-m (n. = semen) vs c-m/come (v.= to orgasm)?
I’m an OB nurse so vagina is probably one of the most used words in my vocabulary haha. Just call it like it is. 🙂
It could be fun to adapt Cockney rhyming slang to this.
As a general example, someone who’s a bit thick might be called Scooby, as in “Scooby Doo, hasn’t a clue.”
So here, maybe oral sex could become ‘Tex-Mex’, both from the ‘eating’ analogy and ‘down South’.
Well, it’s a thought!
Hahaha! Tex-Mex. That’s great, and it brings in the idea of making it hot and spicy! 😉
Love it! Also, ‘do you feel like Tex-mex tonight, honey?’ And then the kids are confused when they get served pasta…LOL!
Certain words are triggers for me from past abuse so my husband and I have created our own words to use when speaking to each other. We call his part his stud. No particular reason he just liked it. Mine came from really needing a nice term so we call it valysium. This is a combo of the word vagina and the title of a Matt Damon movie call Elysium. Elysium was the luxurious space station for the ultra rich. It’s also part of Greek religion as a special place to go in after life for those related to the Gods. Anyway it sounded like an awesome special place so we combined it into our own word. My husband loves having a word he can use that no one knows so he can speak anywhere about it.
I’m also not a fan of the word horny it just sounds crass to me so we say we have the “honeyglow something awful” like Fix it Felix from Wreck It Ralph ?.
That’s beautiful! I love how you created your own language with each other.
I like Valysium and I particularly like Honeyglow, as I call my wife Honey because, like in The Incredibles, she is the greatest food I have ever known.
We like “slurpee” rather than “blow job”.
And “Woodie” rather than “erection”.
Slurpee? Oh, that’s fun.
Slurpee. Is that a trademark violation? 🙂
I work in an old factory and back in the day “erection” was another word for construction. So there is a builders plaque on our building from like the 1920s or 1930s that says “Rigid Erection Co.” its a big joke in the plant. I have a couple of terms for semen that are quite creative (but equally crass) so i wont share them.
Rigid Erection Co.? Just think, some guy got to say, “My job? I’m the head of Rigid Erection Co.” ROFL!
There was a company out where I live that were ‘Bridgemen & Aggressive Erectors’—if THAT doesn’t sound like an ED treatment, I don’t know what does.
Love this post, and all the comments too!
Intercourse, Erection and Vagina seems like words the doctor’s office.
I think Blow Job is crass and the term doesn’t make sense to me anyway,, but even so my wife and I sometimes incorporate some very raw language while we are making love.
We don’t use the term hard-on,, I may go, “I’m hard as a rock” or “he” is feeling claustrophobic or she might go “he” is “stiff”.
I think when it comes to slang, couples find a way to define what stimulates their senses and what doesn’t.
75% of the time the ambiance is so romantic that we won’t use language that many here would be offended with,,
Intimacy is raw and beautiful between two people that love each other. What I notice in this thread is most that post an opinion, still like the rawness and find it exciting being in a naked embrace with the one we love.
My wife is very sweet, prim, proper, that she gives the impression by those who know her as not being a sex kitten.
[edited out a small part]
It seems we were more vanilla with our language when our kids were home, and became more raw after they moved on. It started to become more raw a couple of years ago, when we got a nice bedroom set w/shelf above the pillow and a mirror with dome lights.
Goodness gracious girlfriend, I just snorted when I read, “there she blows”. 😀
I’ve seen a truck go by from Dick’s Erection Service several times. I guess the business is nearby. It’s a truck that most people would call a cherry-picker, which has its own irony! I think it’s funny but it goes to show how the meanings of words change over time. Back when that company was created, it probably didn’t quite mean what it means today.
I LOVE the idea of Cockney slang here! Easy way to end up with private terms that you can use in public. Plus, rhyming slang is just fun! I think Tex-mex is going in our vocab now.
We encourage couples to create a bedroom language so they know what words are ok for them and what’s off limits. Everyone has different feelings about various words, so it’s important to have that conversation. Decide what words you both are ok with, even if they aren’t necessarily appropriate in public conversation.
As for vagina, I use a rose emoji when texting.?
Good idea on the bedroom language. And the rose is nice! You know the flower references make me think of Georgia O’Keeffe and all the debates about whether she was really just painting vulvas. She said no and I think that should close the subject about her, but it’s interesting how easily we can see the comparison of vulva and flowers.
Well, they are the plants ‘sex organ’ so it makes sense. Around here, we don’t have many bees, so we have to pollinate plants by hand if we want fruit…’helping the pumpkins have sex’ has provided me much hilarity…and also helped me be less body conscious of ‘down there’ as it is quite amazing how much variety there is between female flowers, even of the same plant. It is a refreshingly innocent way to help with a girls body insecurities in this porn soaked culture!
We use “hard” mostly when talking about erections. It’s fun because anytime the word “hard” is mentioned in a different context, it’s easy to slip in a flirty comment. For example, while watching the Winter Olympics:
Him – that looks hard!
Me – I can make you hard 😉
For “intercourse,” I’ll often infer to my wife that we “…go dancing tonight,” which is a reference to a inside joke equating the act of sex to “a horizontal mambo.”
For “blow job,” I personally prefer the term “unicorn;” it’s a rare sighting/experience.
For “doggy style,” a friend told me once that he & his wife (who is also unenthusiastic at the prospect of being compared to a dog) refer to it as, “…the tipped T,” because your bodies (at least in the common positioning) look like a capital T tipped to one side.
For “erection,” you’d be hard pressed to find much that isn’t crass to a certain degree; my wife tends to refer to me being “…at attention.” Incidentally, “The Penis Song” performed by Eric Idle in Monty Python’s “Meaning of Life” is chock-full of possibilities…none of which are likely to garner much support I’m sure ?.
Similarly, “Vagina” has a limited number of aliases that don’t come off as being crass or at least classless. The problem is it (and even erection) can’t really be said in a “sexy” way if you’re vocal in the bedroom. I can get behind a change to “tunnel of love.” In her recollection performance “Wishful Drinking,” Carrie Fisher referred to it as “lagoon of mystery,” and Oprah made “Vajayjay” popular once upon a time.
This is so besides all the points you made, but I loved Carrier Fisher. She really did have a way with words. 🙂
There’s a company where we live and the acronym is BJ’s and I can’t help but think of my hubby everytime I see one of their trucks. It’s hilarious.
I’m not crazy about anything on me being called a tunnel, though. Tunnels are big…
My husband likes to say he wants to sheath his sword. We like it. He likes Shakespeare and Milton though, so there’s a lot of poetic reference he uses. We’ve started to use a code of having “dark chocolate” (slow love making) on a Sunday afternoon or “milk chocolate” for a quickie. It goes right over our kids heads.
Oral sex: French kiss your/my body.
Rear entry: Spaids … or Ace of Spaids (i have posted that before on hhh).
Intercourse: communicate directly.
A thoughtful post. For the word vagina, I’ve always liked the term sacred space, I believe adapted for the Indian or Hindu term yonni. It is a nice connotation for me, as it is a space that God allows only for husbands and for the passage of new life through it, both acts honored and approved by God. And the phrase keeps the thought of God involved in the bed and in the power of the joining. Bless your courage and keep on writing.
My wife and I have been enjoying this post (i.e. having a good laugh). It’s a safe way to talk about awkward words. I just came up with a good one for vagina: how about “love glove.”
“Honey, how about I try on the love glove tonight?”
Thanks, J, for this blog. You’ve helped our already great sex life along in healthy, godly ways!
Thanks! And “love glove” is nice, but it’s an oft-used term for a condom too.
Thanks J for sharing this post. See that it is getting a lot of responses. I too have detested the words of our culture in describing God’s playground for adults. I’ve mentioned this when teaching from the Song of Songs that the euphemisms are discreet in describing body parts but they are poetic and do have a very explicit meaning – Hebrew scholars still blush! I encourage couples to create their own private vocabulary but in the sessions I just stick to the clinical terms which are rather mundane. Thanks for creating the dialogue on a subject long overdue.
Growing up in Lancaster Pa I still clearly remember asking my dad as we drove through the town of Intercourse: Dad “what does intercourse mean?” I can imagine that he did a double take as he answered without missing a beat, “It means where two roads come together.” I was maybe 8-10 at that time? That did it for me and as I grew old enough to understand that the word had more than one meaning, it was still ok.
Being Mennonite, we were a bit tighter how we used names for private body parts let alone acts like sex? It still made sense that life being kind of like a road, when two get married they come (cum) together (pun intended) and quite often, at least on a regular basis. Being older now its definitely “the road less traveled”, ? but we have good memories. The couples that stay at our romantic cottage only 7 miles from the town of Intercourse enjoy visiting Intercourse Pa because it the Mecca for lovers you know? They love to stand by the sign and take a vulgar picture. ?
We got married in 1978 and the book my parents gave us to read so we’d know how to know each other, “Sane Sex Life and Sane Sex Living” used the word coitus for intercourse. It was probably printed in early 1900s. A very good book though and full of wisdom for lovers. We keep it simple and call it sex or making love. Either way we know what it means (cumming together) and is still feels good. ? If more couples would cum together not so many would come apart? True? Yes, Very True!
We have a lot of different words or phrases we have used over the years. Right now intercourse is “making peanut butter and jelly”. Not sure why but it works. For a while we called sex “How Great Thou Art”. Yes, it’s referencing the song but there is nothing funnier than having sex with Charlie Daniels Band playing in the background when you suddenly hear “O Lord my God. When I in awesome wonder, consider all the worlds thy hands have made.” Kind of fitting but by the time he got to the chorus we were both laughing so hard we had to skip the rest of the song to finish our activity. We also refer to erections/hand jobs/blow jobs as “gripping the midnight microphone”. It’s a phrase from a song by a favorite husband/wife duo of ours. Of course all of this is in fun and outside of the bedroom. During the actual act of sex we are probably a bit more crass in our language but it fits the passion and the intensity of the moment and neither one of us have a problem with it.
We use some childish terms, but we like them – his part is ‘the Captain’ and mine is ‘Miss Muffy’. I’ll ask if he has ‘NPT’ or if the ‘Captain is dancing’ (is he aroused). I usually call oral sex ‘that other thing’ or ‘going down there’ or even ‘taking a look’. Silly but works for us.
I don’t care for many of the words associated with vagina and especially hate the “p” word. I don’t find it sexy when I’m texting my husband and use the word vagina. I consider it my “down under” parts so I refer to it as my “aussie” lol. It doesn’t feel harsh or crass. That’s just me.
I don’t care for intercourse either. We just say sex for when it’s a fun time and then make love when it’s the slow and passionate type. This way we know what the other might be looking for/need when it’s brought up.
For erection we substitute the word “hard”. We use doggy but I agree with you that I’m not a fan of that name either.
Reading your post reminded me that my husband uses the term “love nest” for my vagina and “love muscle” for his penis. I love those as they do not sound clinical or crass! And breasts or pajangas! Where he got that one, who knows, but I like it as well.
When we are being playful, a flirty, growly “I think I’m having an allergic reaction to you, I’m experiencing some swelling” coming from my husband can be a sexy, fun way to not be awkward.
Reading the comment about Hebrew scholars got me thinking of the euphemism of calling a penis ‘foot’…which could be a fun PG way to talk about ‘later’ by offering your husband a ‘foot rub’ (which sounds innocent enough in friendly company, or when there are kiddos about).
‘Allergic reaction.’ I might have to adopt that one, E.
I will say this the slang words (R rated) are only words. Just because the world uses these words doesn’t mean we should abandon them. Whatever words are said in bed between husband and wife are acceptable and the meaning is what you define it to be.
The world and porn industry doesn’t own any slang words or get to define them. We need to stop making sexual decisions based on what the world does limiting our expression of verbal love language.
I hear this argument all the time: They’re just words! But you know, words mean something. Go through the Bible and find all the scriptures that talk about our speech; it’s surprising how many there are. And the way language develops, words are symbols that represent both a denotative (actual) and a connotative (implied) meaning. The connotation of many curse words — acknowledging a difference between slang and curse words — is negative.
Since I believe that all of God’s Word applies in every area of my life, including the marriage bed, why would I want to say something that I wouldn’t say if Jesus were standing right there? I have a lot of private language with my husband about our sex life, but all of it has a positive connotation. That’s what I advocate.
And I’m not making decisions for anyone by advocating for that. Spouses make their choices, and they don’t report to me — it’s between them and God. But I do take a position on this one, based on my study of God’s design, that words matter.
Thank you Percy. It seems it is possible to over-sanitize bedroom language between married couples. Communication about sex in marriage is inherently difficult, is it not?
I respect all that has been suggested of course; however, in keeping with your comment society does not get to co-opt our personal love language, nor denigrate it.
My wife and I shared our struggles with a group at church recently. This topic is one that we talked about. Your post is funny and yet the underlying truth is that we often struggle to find the words to communicate about sex, and it gets in the way of the relationship. In our talk we made almost the exact comparison you do – Discussing sex is either like reading a medical journal or listening to street vulgarity. The need for comfortable vocabulary is actually really important.
Doggie Style – Usually she just says, “Hey, get behind me” 🙂
Erection – Named him “Henry”
Blow Job – not a relevant word in our marriage unfortunately
Vagina – Funny that something as gently and cute as a furry baby cat is considered vulgar.
Intercourse – Well – the real problem with this word is that it REALLY wants to be verb!
Awesome post as ever, J., and I couldn’t agree more. The term I’ve recently adopted for ‘intercourse’ is ‘communion.’ Google defined ‘communion’ as “the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially when the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level.” If that doesn’t sound like what sex between and husband and wife, I don’t know what does.
I like tunnel of love, but I think I also like Quincy Jones’ term (and sing title): Secret garden.
For a verb term for fellatio, what about poppin’ lolli? If a wife is savoring her husbands popcicle, or lollipop, then she’s poppin’ lolli on him.
My 2 ¢
I was reading your “Talking Flirty vs Talking Dirty” post, and you—well, Song of Songs really—provided a term for cunnilingus (which wasn’t included in your list of 5), which is ‘gathering lilies’ ( Song of Songs 6.2). I would hope wives would respond to their husband’s desires to “gather her lilies tonight.”
We call it tiger position rather than doggy
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