The terms covered on this page are related to sex and sexuality. Although every effort has been made to make this as inclusive as possible there may still be mistakes and not everyone uses these definitions. Also, as is the beauty of language and human beings some people may have totally different definitions or understandings of these words. When in doubt ask respectfully and in private. Please remember that sex can be a very personal and private thing and many people don’t appreciate being asked about their sex lives.
Aceflux: A person who experiences low, varying levels of sexual attraction.
Allosexual (Allo): A term used most commonly in the asexual community to refer to someone who is not asexual. Someone who is allosexual experiences sexual attraction.
Ambisexual: Ambi meaning both, an ambisexual person feels sexual attraction to two or more genders.
Androsexual: Attracted to males, men, and/or masculinity.
Aromantic (Aro): A person who does not experience romantic attraction to others.
Asexual (Ace): A person who does not experience sexual attraction to others.
BDSM: Stands for ‘bondage and discipline’, ‘domination and submission’ and ‘sadism and masochism’. BDSM isn’t exclusively an LGBTQ+ practice but is widely accepting of gender and sexual minorities.
- Bondage: The practice of physically restraining, bondage can take many forms with restraints varying from scarves to chains.
- Discipline: Describes psychological restraining, with the use of rules and punishment to control behaviour. Punishment can be pain caused physically (such as caning), humiliation caused psychologically (such as a public whipping), or loss of freedom caused physically (for example, chaining the submissive partner to the foot of a bed). Another aspect is the structured training of a submissive where the dominant uses punishment to teach the submissive their role.
- Dominance and submission: A set of behaviours, customs and rituals relating to the giving and accepting of control of one individual over another in an erotic or lifestyle context.
- Sadism: A sadist derives sexual pleasure by inflicting pain, degradation, humiliation on another person or causing another person to suffer.
- Masochism: A masochist enjoys being hurt, humiliated, or suffering within the consensual scenario.
Bicurious: People of a straight or gay identity who, while showing some curiosity for a relationship or sexual activity with a person of a gender they do not favour, distinguish themselves from the bisexual label.
Biromantic: A person who is romantically attracted to two or more genders.
Bisexual: A person who experiences sexual attraction to people of two or more genders.
Daddy: An older man who engages in relationships with a much younger person. The word Daddy can also be used during BDSM roleplay to denote an older male who is Dominant and caring.
Demiromantic: A person who is only romantically attracted to people they have an emotional connection with.
Demisexual: A person who is only sexually attracted to people they have an emotional connection with.
Dom/sub/Switch: Terms referring to roles in BDSM practice.
- Dominant (Dom): In BDSM, a top or dominant is the partner in a BDSM relationship or in a BDSM scene who takes the active or controlling role over that of the bottom or submissive partner(s).
- submissive (sub): Takes the passive, receiving, or obedient role.
- Switch: someone who participates in BDSM activities sometimes as a dominant and other times as a submissive.
Flexual: Attracted to two or more genders.
Fluid(ity): Generally with another term attached, like gender-fluid or fluid-sexuality, fluid(ity) describes identities that change and do not remain static for one’s lifetime. Not to be confused with transitioning.
Frot: Short for frottage. A non-penetrative form of sexual activity that usually involves direct penis-to-penis contact.
Fudge packer: A derogatory term for a man who engages in anal sex with another man.
Gay: A man who is attracted to men, but often used and embraced by women to describe their same-sex sexual attraction as well.
Gay above the belt: Implies a person is willing to kiss someone of the same sex but is unwilling to touch their genitals.
Grayromantic: When you rarely feel romantic attraction towards others.
Graysexual: When you rarely feel sexual attraction towards anyone. As with sexual orientation, sex drive also exists on a spectrum.
Gynesexual/Gynephilic: Attracted to females, women, and/or femininity.
Heteroromantic: Romantic attraction to a gender other than your own.
HIV/AIDS: Human Immunodeficiency Virus, a virus spread through blood, semen, breast milk, vaginal fluid and pre-ejaculate. HIV attacks the T cells in the blood, lowering the number of them that fight infection. During the initial infection with HIV, a person may experience flu-like symptoms followed by a period of no symptoms. As the illness progresses, it interferes more and more with the immune system, making the person much more likely to get opportunistic infections and tumours that do not usually affect people who have working immune systems.
AIDS or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is diagnosed when a person’s T cells drop below a certain level or they have contracted one or more opportunistic infections because the HIV virus has compromised their immune system..
Homophile: An alternative to the words homosexual or gay. The homophile movement also refers to the gay rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s. The term homophile is favoured by some because it emphasizes love rather than sex.
Homoromantic: Romantic attraction to a gender the same as your own.
Homo(s): Shortening of the word homosexual. Usually used in a derogatory manner.
Homosexual: A medical definition for a person who is attracted to someone of the same gender. It is considered an offensive/stigmatizing term by many members of the queer community; often used incorrectly in place of lesbian or gay. Some people have reclaimed it.
Kink: An unconventional sexual practice.
Leather Community: A community which encompasses those who are into leather, sado-masochism, bondage and domination, uniform, cowboys, rubber, and other fetishes. Although the leather community is often associated with the queer community, it is not a gay-only community.
Lesbian: A woman attracted to people of the same gender.
MAAB: Acronym standing for male assigned at birth.
Male: Biological term used to classify certain sexual characteristics in humans and other animals.
Monosexual: Sexual attraction to one gender.
MSM: Men who engage in same-sex behaviour, but who may not necessarily self-identify as gay or bisexual.
Multisexual: Sexual attraction to people of multiple and no genders.
Nonmonosexual: People who are attracted to more than one gender.
Omnisexual: Attraction to all genders and people of no gender.
Panromantic: A person who experiences romantic attraction for members of all gender identities/expressions.
Pansexual: A person who experiences sexual attraction for members of all gender identities/expressions.
Pillow Princess: A person who wants to experience pleasure from oral sex, but who is unwilling to reciprocate.
Polyromantic: Romantically attracted to many genders.
Polysexual: Sexually attracted to many genders.
Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP): Any preventive medical treatment started immediately after exposure to a pathogen (such as a disease-causing virus), in order to prevent infection by the pathogen and the development of the disease. In the case of HIV exposure, post-exposure prophylaxis is a course of antiretroviral drugs which reduces the risk of seroconversion after events with high risk of exposure to HIV (e.g., unprotected anal or vaginal sex, needlestick injuries, or sharing needles). PEP is recommended for any HIV negative person who has recently been exposed to HIV for any reason. To be most effective, treatment should begin within an hour of exposure. After 72 hours post-exposure PEP is much less effective, and may not be effective at all. Prophylactic treatment for HIV typically lasts four weeks.
Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP): Pre-exposure prophylaxis is when people at very high risk for HIV take HIV medicines daily to lower their chances of getting infected. PrEP can stop HIV from taking hold and spreading throughout your body. It is highly effective for preventing HIV if used as prescribed, but it is much less effective when not taken consistently.
Queer: Historically, this was a derogatory slang term used to identify LGBTQ+ people. It has been embraced and reclaimed by the LGBTQ+ community as a symbol of pride, representing all individuals who fall out of the gender and sexuality “norms”.
Questioning: The process of exploring one’s own sexual orientation or gender identity.
Romantic orientation: A measure of who you are romantically attracted to as being distinct from who you are sexually attracted to. A woman might be homosexual but panromantic, for instance, meaning that they only have a sexual relationship with other women but they can be in a romantic relationship with someone of any gender.
Same Gender Loving (SGL): A phrase coined by the African American/Black queer communities used as an alternative for gay and lesbian by people who may see those as terms of the white queer community.
Same Gender Oriented: A gender-neutral term for someone who is primarily sexually or romantically attracted to the same gender.
Sapiosexual: A person who is sexually attracted to the intelligence of other.
Sex: A medical term for a certain combination of gonads, chromosomes, external gender organs, secondary sex characteristics and hormonal balances. Common terms are male, female and intersex.
Sexual Behaviour: The sexual activities an individual engages in.
Sexual Minority: Refers to members of minority sexual orientations or people who engage in sexual activities that are not part of the mainstream.
Sexual Orientation: A person’s sexual identity in relation to the gender to which they are attracted.
Sexual Preference: The types of sexual intercourse, stimulation, and gratification one likes to receive and participate in. Generally, when this term is used, it is being mistakenly interchanged with sexual orientation, creating an illusion that one has a choice (or preference) in who they are attracted to.
Skoliosexual: Attraction to trans and non-binary people.
Straight: A person who is attracted to people of the other binary gender than themselves; often referred to as heterosexual.
Strap On: A term for a dildo and harness to be worn during sex. Some trans men use strap-ons and in this context, it may be called packing hard.
Top, Bottom and Versatile: Terms that describe roles during sexual intercourse, especially between two men. A top is a person who penetrates, a bottom is one who receives penetration, and a versatile engages in both activities. These terms may be elements of self-identity that indicate an individual’s usual preference, but might also describe broader social, psychological, or sexual identities.
Transbian/Tryke: A trans-female-identified person who is attracted to/loves other women.
Tranny Chaser: A derogatory term for people who are attracted to trans* people. The term tranny chaser was originally (and is still predominantly) used to describe men sexually interested in pre-operative trans women, but it is now being used by some trans men as well. More recently, less pejorative terms such as trans-oriented and trans-attracted have emerged.
Tribadism: A term that has historically been used as a definition of lesbian sex. As of late the term now refers to a scissoring sexual position in which two women stimulate one another with their vulvas.
Vanilla sex: What a culture regards as standard or conventional sexual behaviour. Different cultures, subcultures and individuals have different ideas about what constitutes this type of sex. Often, it is interpreted as sex which does not involve such elements as BDSM, kink, or fetish activities.
WSW: An acronym standing for women who have sex with women. It is a term used to identify women who may or may not identify as lesbian or bisexual, but have engaged in same-sex encounters.
© Gillian McInerney and Alphabet Soup, 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Gillian McInerney and alphabetsoup.blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.