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This glossary of BDSM (bondage, discipline, domination, submission, sadism, masochism) terms defines terms commonly used in the BDSM community.
BDSM activities are described as play in BDSM terminology.
The BDSM term is a portmanteau of initialisms intended to encompass all of the following activities:
All of the above abbreviations have their origins in classified personal advertisements, where euphemisms for deviant and socially-disapproved practices were required by periodical editors to circumvent censorship and obscenity law.
Some people in the BDSM community begin dominant terms with an upper case, for example: Top, Master, Dom, Domme, etc., as well as to begin submissive terms with a lower case, even where normally incorrect, chiefly in acronyms and abbreviations, such as D/s for Dom/sub. Some extend this to honorifics and capitalization: for example Master Rob's slave, linda, may refer to him as Sir and herself as i (or as "this slave", restricted from referring to themselves in the first person). Others are highly dismissive of this "slashy speak".
In addition, high protocol refers to groups or individuals that adhere to strict roles and role-based rules of conduct, whereas low protocol refers to groups or individuals that are more relaxed. Old Guard now usually refers to high protocol groups, particularly gay leather BDSM groups; people who use this phrase may be romanticizing a perception of leather history: see Old Guard leather.
BDSM is a variety of often erotic practices or roleplaying involving bondage, discipline, dominance and submission, sadomasochism, and other related interpersonal dynamics. Given the wide range of practices, some of which may be engaged in by people who do not consider themselves to be practising BDSM, inclusion in the BDSM community or subculture often is said to depend on self-identification and shared experience.
A dominatrix is a woman who takes the dominant role in BDSM activities. A dominatrix might be of any sexual orientation, but her orientation does not necessarily limit the genders of her submissive partners. The role of a dominatrix may not even involve physical pain toward the submissive; her domination can be verbal, involving humiliating tasks, or servitude. A dominatrix is typically a paid professional (pro-domme) as the term dominatrix is little-used within the non-professional BDSM scene.
In BDSM, a safeword is a code word, series of code words or other signal used by a person to communicate their physical or emotional state, typically when approaching, or crossing, a physical, emotional, or moral boundary. Some safewords are used to stop the scene outright, while others can communicate a willingness to continue, but at a reduced level of intensity.
Bondage, in the BDSM subculture, is the practice of consensually tying, binding, or restraining a partner for erotic, aesthetic, or somatosensory stimulation. A partner may be physically restrained in a variety of ways, including the use of rope, cuffs, bondage tape, or self-adhering bandage.
In BDSM, servitude refers to performing personal tasks for their dominant partner, as part of their submissive role in a BDSM relationship.
Male dominance, or maledom, refers to BDSM activities where the dominant partner is male.
Female submission or femsub is an activity or relationship in which a woman consents to submit to the direction of a sexual partner or allows her body to be used sexually by or for the sexual pleasure of her partner. The expression is often associated with BDSM, when the woman voluntarily and consensually submits to such activity. Submission usually involves a degree of trust by the woman in her partner. The dominant partner is usually a man, but can also be another woman, or there can be multiple dominant partners simultaneously. The submissive woman may derive sexual pleasure or emotional gratification from relinquishing control to a trusted dominant partner.
Discipline in BDSM is the practice in which the dominant sets rules which the submissive is expected to obey. When rules of expected behaviour are broken, punishment is often used as a means of disciplining.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to BDSM:
Dominance and submission is a set of behaviours, customs, and rituals involving the submission of one person to another in an erotic episode or lifestyle. It is a subset of BDSM. This form of sexual contact and pleasure has been shown to please a minority of people.
Erotic humiliation is consensual psychological humiliation performed in order to produce erotic excitement or sexual arousal. This can be for either the person(s) being humiliated and demeaned or the person(s) humiliating, or both. It is sometimes performed before spectators, including pornography and webcam viewers. It may be part of BDSM and other sexual roleplay, or accompanied by the sexual stimulation of the genitals of one or both parties in the activity.
In BDSM, limits refer to issues that participants in a play scene or dynamic feel strongly about, usually referring to prohibited activities. Participants typically negotiate an outline of what activities will and will not take place. The participants describe what they desire, do not desire, will and will not tolerate, including the determination of limits. For example, it is common to set a safeword and to establish certain types of play as prohibited.
Erotic sensation play is a class of activities meant to impart physical sensations upon a partner, as opposed to mental forms of erotic play such as power exchange or sexual roleplaying.
Predicament bondage is a form of bondage, typically in which a person is restrained with an option of placing themself in one of a pair of uncomfortable positions, which are sufficiently uncomfortable that the person is forced to shift after a time to the other position. The default position is typically intended to cause muscle fatigue, such as standing on tiptoe, which forces the subject to choose a more physically painful position, for example letting themselves lower their weight and stand regularly while forcing a rope attached to their genitals to pull taut and cause pain. Predicament bondage can also involve the use of a single position in which remaining still will not cause any discomfort for the subject, but moving their body will pull on ropes, weights or other devices meant to cause them pain. The subject may then be tickled, sexually pleased or otherwise enticed to move uncontrollably.
Animal roleplay is a form of roleplay where at least one participant plays the part of a non-human animal. As with most forms of roleplay, its uses include play and psychodrama.
Male submission or malesub is a situation in BDSM and other sexual activities in which the submissive partner is male. A woman who dominates a male submissive is referred to as a dominant, domme or dominatrix. Sexual activity between a male submissive and a dominatrix is referred to as femdom. A 2015 study indicates that 46.6% of men who are active in BDSM expressed a preference for a submissive role, 24% consider themselves to be switches and 29.5% prefer the dominant role.
In BDSM, Master/slave, M/s or sexual slavery is a relationship in which one individual serves another in a consensual authority-exchange structured relationship. Unlike Dominant/submissive structures found in BDSM in which love is often the core value, service and obedience are often the core values in Master/slave structures. The participants may be of any gender or sexual orientation. The relationship uses the term "slave" because of the association of the term with ownership rights of a master to their slave's body, as property or chattel. While male "masters" will usually be referred to as "Master", whether or not female Masters are referred to as "Master" or "Mistress" may depend upon whether they identify as following the leather subculture or BDSM path, or simply preference.
Facesitting, also known as queening or kinging, is a sexual practice in which one partner sits on or over the other's face, typically to allow or force oral–genital or oral–anal contact. In addition to oral-genital and oral-anal contact, the position also leaves the bottom partner's hands free to stimulate other erogenous zones. The top partner may be facing either direction in this position. It is common for this position to form part of BDSM, involving dominance and submission, though this need not be the case. Within a BDSM or D/s context, facesitting can be a form of erotic humiliation.
The terms top, bottom, and switch are used to describe roles for the duration of a sometimes-sexual act, or may be used more broadly as a psychological, social, and sexual identity, as well as indicating one's usual preference. The terms top, bottom, and switch are also used in BDSM, with slightly different meanings. In both contexts, the terms top and bottom refer to dominant or submissive, or active and passive roles, not to who is physically on top in a particular sexual act. The older term "versatile" is sometimes used instead of "switch".
This is an index of BDSM articles. BDSM is a variety of erotic practices involving dominance and submission, role-playing, restraint, and other interpersonal dynamics. Given the wide range of practices, some of which may be engaged in by people who do not consider themselves as practicing BDSM, inclusion in the BDSM community or subculture is usually dependent on self-identification and shared experience. Interest in BDSM can range from one-time experimentation to a lifestyle.