Alternative Sex for Beginners: A Glossary of Terms

Ever wondered about alternative sexual practices or wanted to experiment sexually? Below is an alphabetical list of terms you may encounter as you explore your fantasies and learn more about alternative forms of sexual play. We aren't suggesting that you try all these things, nor are we saying any particular term is "good" or "bad." We're just telling you what the term means, so you in turn can pass along the knowledge to your partner -- or anyone else who asks.

Note: The term "alternative sex" can mean just about anything you want it to, just as "normal" can mean different things to different people. However, for our purposes, we'll define alternative sex as anything other than man-on-top, woman-on-bottom intercourse.

Acupressure: Pressure points on the body that induce certain responses, some sexual.
Anal Play: Stimulating or penetrating the anus for sexual pleasure.
Analingus: Rimming or penetration of the anus with the tongue.
Androgyny: Having a blend of both male and female characteristics (culturally sanctioned sex roles).
Aphrodisiacs: Food, drinks, drugs, herbs, or scents that can arouse or increase sexual desire or libido.
Autoerotic Asphyxiation: Arousal from lack of oxygen.
Autoerotica: Self-induced arousal from fantasies, pornography, erotica or other aids.
BDSM:A compounded acronym for B/d (Bondage/discipline), D/s (Domination/submission), and S/m (Sadism/masochism). It covers the three aspects of a lifestyle that usually involves more than one or all of these sets of activities, but may also only include one.
Binding: Wrapping the feet or genitals with string, rope or lace.
Bisexual: People who are sexually attracted to both sexes.
Blindfolding: Covering the eyes during sexual play.
Body Painting: Drawing or painting temporary designs on the body.
Body Worship: Sex game in which one partner willingly chooses to adore another's body.
Bondage: Physical or mental restriction of a partner.
Bottom: The casual term for someone who enjoys the submissive role but is not generally committed to a full-time D/s relationship or one partner.
Caning: A whipping with a switch or cane; an extreme form of erotic sensation play.
Chastity Belts: Leather or metal belts used to prevent genital penetration.
Cock Rings: Rings placed around the base of the male genitals to maintain erections.
Corsetting: Body modification or oxygen restriction from using corsets.
Costumes: Dress-up clothes for sexual fantasy play.
Cross-dresser: A person who wears the apparel of the opposite sex.
Cunnilingus: Oral sex performed on a woman.
Discipline: Punishment and control of a partner during sex play. Sometimes administered without erotic attachment as a training measure for submissives and slaves.
Dominance/Submission: Power exchange between partners.
Dominatrix/Domme/Dom: A person, usually hired, to function as a top or sadist. (Dom is the male version; domme and dominatrix are the female versions).
Dungeons: Rooms that are decorated for SM play.
Erotica: Sexual literature and photos.
Fantasy Play: Acting out sexual fantasies.
Fantasy: A mental image or illusion, sometimes sexual.
Fellatio: Oral sex performed on a man.
Fetish: An object that replaces people as the primary object of love.
Fisting: Inserting a fist or hand into the vagina or anus.
Flagellation: Striking a person with an object.
Frottage: Rubbing one's body against a partner or object for arousal.
Gay: A man who prefers sex with another man.
Genital Massage: Stimulating the genitals with the hands, usually during a sensual massage.
GLBT: Generic descriptive term for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.
Handkerchief Codes: Color codes that identify sexual preferences.
Harness: Body harnesses used in suspension or penis restriction, or straps are worn to support a dildo for penetrating another partner.
Hermaphrodite: Person who has both female and male genitalia.
Homoeroticism: Sexual arousal from a person of the same sex.
Hot Wax: A sex game in which hot wax is melted onto a partner.
Kegel Exercises: Exercise of the pelvic muscles that control orgasm.
Lap Dancing: Squatting above a sitting person and rubbing against them to create arousal without touching their genitals.
Lesbian: A woman who prefers to have sex with other women.
Masochism: The desire for and ability to process intense/painful sensation for enjoyment and sexual arousal. Sometimes it is indulged in for the endorphins alone, without arriving at any sexual act. Generally an activity for two people.
Massage: Rubbing the body to increase circulation.
Masturbation: Stimulating one's own sexual organs and erogenous zones.
Menage á Trois: Three people having sex together.
Online Sex: Verbal sex between partners via email, chat room or another Internet device.
Orgy: Group sex.
Paraphilia: Sexual arousal to an unusual or socially unacceptable object or act.
Pheromones: Natural chemicals or hormones that induce a sexual response.
Phone Sex: Verbal sex between partners on a phone.
Play Room: A room equipped with sex paraphernalia and used primarily for sex play.
Play: The consensual acting out of a role or game, sometimes sexual.
Polygamy: One person with multiple marriage partners.
Queer: Generic descriptive term for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.
Rimming: Penetrating the anus with the tongue.
Ritual Sex: Sex performed with specific rules of conduct (i.e., Wicca, weddings, slave training).
Sadism: Empowerment and arousal from the interaction of inflicting desired intense stimulation/pain on a willing partner.
Sadomasochism: The combination of inflicting and receiving pain as a means to sexual arousal.
Sensory Deprivation: A practice done to intensify anxiety, and to heighten the other senses that are left uninhibited.
Sensual Massage: Combining elements of sensuality with massage to produce arousal and possibly orgasm.
Sex Magick: The use of witchcraft rituals for sexual purposes.
Sex Slave: A slave whose designation is specifically for sexual purposes. It is not simply someone who enjoys being dominated. Many who enjoy being dominated and are not sex slaves.
Sex Surrogates: People who are trained to help other people overcome sexual dysfunctions.
Sex Toys: Mechanical objects used to assist in masturbation or sex play.
Sexologists: People who study the science of sex.
Shaving: Removing the hair of a partner or oneself, usually pubic, with a razor for arousal or as an obedient act to demonstrate submission to ownership.
Slave: Someone who has agreed to give up all personal rights to their dominant or master. This may or may not ever include sexual contact.
Slings: Swings or other forms of support or suspension from which a person may engage in sex.
SM: Abbreviation for sadomasochism.
Spanking: Using one's hand to slap a partner's buttocks for sensory enhancement and arousal.
Stripping: Removing one's clothes, sometimes performed on stage in an erotic manner.
Submission: Surrendering control to a dominant partner.
Swing: An object that allows a person or two to be suspended and move back and forth during sex.
Swinging: Group sex or wife swapping.
Tantra: Yoga-type sexual discipline.
Top: The person who controls the stimuli during sex games.
Transsexual: A person whose gender identity does not match the physical sex organs of their body. They can be in the process of physically changing their sex (pre-operative) or have already changed their physical sex surgically (post-operative).
Transvestite: Person aroused by cross-dressing.
Voyeurism: Arousal by watching others without their consent.
Whipping: Striking or flagellating a partner for sensory enhancement.