BDSM Terms Glossary for Beginners + How to Get Started

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You’ve thought long and hard about it. There’s no denying it, the world of BDSM appeals to you.

So, where do you go from here?

Entering the world for the first time can be intimidating, to say the least. For starters, there are many BDSM terms and words that mean something different when used in this lifestyle as well as quite a few things to educate yourself on. But, if you’re here, you’re on the right track.


BDSM Terms for Beginners

When you start your intro to BDSM, there are quite a few terms you’ll want to know.
Welcome to my kinky ABC’s.

Aftercare

Aftercare involves checking in with your partner after a scene/session. It can mean different things to different people, but essentially, it means making sure your partner is okay with everything that just happened. Scenes can be intense and produce a ton of oxytocin. Where there’s a high, there’s inevitably a low (also known as a “drop”). Aftercare helps prevent a negative drop. 

Cuddling and good conversation is a fantastic form of aftercare. Make sure you have plenty of towels, blankets, and anything your partner/self desires. 

Bondage

Bondage is one of the BDSM basics – in its simplest form, it involves tying someone up. What you use and how you do it is up to you and your partner. If using rope, please be sure it’s soft and wide enough not to cause damage. There are many beginner products you can purchase since rope-tying techniques can be difficult. 

Breast Bondage 

“The focus of breast bondage is usually on the visual appeal of a person’s breasts bound in different ways—anything from tying something to the nipples or creating a breast harness out of rope.”

Breath play 

A form of play when one participant controls their breath (choking is one example). 

Consent

This is one of the most important BDSM terms – any guide you read will emphasize consent as it is one of the most important aspects of the lifestyle. It sounds counterproductive, but trust me, it isn’t.

Contrary to what most people who have never been involved in this lifestyle think, the submissive controls everything. In order to facilitate a great scene, consent should be discussed ahead of time. Always talk to one another about limits.

Dominance and Submission (D/s)

Dominance/submission is just one part of the BDSM lifestyle, but it’s the most well known. Folks involved in this lifestyle can be on the spectrum (personally, I’m a switch, so I can be either dominant or submissive), but typically, you’re one or the other. The dominant in the relationship SHOWS the power, the submissive HAS the power. It’s an erotic power exchange, not lording over another person.

Everyone involved knows what’s going on and has consented ahead of time.

Dungeon Monitor

Someone who supervises activities at a club or play party to ensure they are safe. 

Edge Play

Edging in vanilla sex refers to bringing your partner to the edge of orgasm and denying them. Edge play in BDSM goes a bit further. This term encompasses all the risky stuff. Knife play, blood, taboo. If it could potentially cause real harm, it’s edge play.

Please note, you don’t have to get maimed to enjoy BDSM, but if that’s your kink, please play as safe as possible.

Fetish

A fetish is a form of sexual desire in which gratification comes from an object, item of clothing, or part of the body.

Some people have a foot fetish, and as a submissive, are gratified by worshiping at their Mistress’ feet.

Golden Showers

A golden shower is when you shower a partner with your urine. Enough said.

Hard Limits

Hard limits are any act that are off limits. It doesn’t have to be sexual, but usually is. It’s important to set these ahead of time.

“Please don’t poop on me, poop is a hard limit for me.”

Japanese Bondage

The most well known form of Japanese bondage is Shibari. Beautiful, soft rope is used to create intricate patterns on the body. Sure, it’s bondage, but it’s also an art form.

Kink

Kink is defined as a clever unusual way of doing something, or unconventional sexual taste or behavior. I prefer the first definition.

Society views anything not traditional missionary sex as kink. Hair pulling, spanking, bondage, breath play, and deep throating are all considered kinky.

Leather

There’s an entire subset of the BDSM lifestyle dedicated to leather. However, even us regular old kinksters enjoy it as well. You’ll find leather corsets, leather paddles, and even leather shorts. If you’re a lover of animals and can’t see yourself in leather, there are vegan options available as well.

Masochist

A masochist is someone who gets off on receiving pain.

Orgasm Denial

This is the BDSM version of edging. A Dominant partner will bring the submissive close to orgasm, then deny the submissive, over and over again. This can last hours or even days. 

Pain Slut

No slut shaming here. A pain slut is someone who loves pain and gets off on it.

Play Party

A party or gathering where guests can engage in BDSM play. 

Queening

Queening is a fantastic word for face-sitting. The Queen (aka your Domme) sits on your face until she sees fit to stop. But why would she?

RACK

Risk Aware Consensual Kink, as mentioned before, are the BDSM community guidelines to ensure everyone is aware of the dangers they consent to. We want everyone to feel happy and fulfilled and only endure pain they’ve consented to.

SSC or Safe Sane Consensual partners with RACK. 

Role Play

A beginner’s BDSM guide usually shares about role play, which involves taking on a different identity during a scene. 

Sadist

Someone who becomes sexually aroused from inflicting pain or humiliation on another person. 

Safe Word 

This is a previously determined word that a submissive can say to stop the activity immediately.

Scene

I’ve used this term a few times already – the term scene is used within the community to describe BDSM encounters. 

Switch

Like me! A switch is someone who has both Dominant and submissive tendencies. I recommend a woman who is both for superior BDSM sex.

Topping from the Bottom

Topping from the bottom refers to a submissive trying to tell their Dominant how to do their job. And it can be extremely annoying. Unless, it’s contracted ahead of time, as with brat play. Most of the time, brat play is coupled with Daddy/baby girl age play.

Urethral Play

Urethral play, or sounding, can involve the introduction of either soft or rigid items into the meatus of the penis (as well as farther in). Other toys and items, such as catheters, may be introduced deeper; in some cases even into the bladder. Some items may even be allowed to curl several times or expand within the bladder. This action in the male may be directly or indirectly associated with stimulation of the prostate gland and some types of bladder control.

You won’t see this in any BDSM for beginners guides. This is not something to enter into lightly, as it can cause permanent damage if done incorrectly. 

Violet Wand

Violet wands are modern electrical sexual or kink stimulation toys. They are used for the application of low current, high voltage, high-frequency, electricity to the body. They are most commonly used in BDSM though erotic sensation play is also possible with them. These typically consist of a hand held “wand” made of plastic which encases a high voltage electrical transformer. The base of the handle has a permanently attached electrical cord which plugs directly into a wall outlet.

PLEASE be safe and only use violet wands on the genitals, never the chest area due to the potential for cardiac arrhythmia.

Wax Play

This involves burning low-temp candles and pouring the wax onto your partner. Do not use regular candles as they will burn. These can be found for under $10 at any sex store! 

Wartenberg Wheel

A Wartenberg Wheel is a nifty little metal pinwheel that you can run over your partner’s nipples or other erogenous zones. Yes, it’s a real medical device! Make sure to start lighty with these as they can draw blood (some enjoy this). 

X-rated Talk

Ha! You didn’t think I would come up with one for X, did you? Dirty talk is never a bad idea, whether in a scene or just everyday sex. Your mileage may vary.

Yes

Yes, Ma’am. Yes, Sir.

Zentai

Zentai is a Japanese bodysuit that is skintight and typically made of spandex and nylon. It can cover the entire body, including the face. Some people get off on the sensation of having their entire body bound.

24-7’s

This term reflects a BDSM relationship that is always happening – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


What Is BDSM?

Confused? Let’s go back to square one. BDSM is a type of sexual (or nonsexual) play that involves physical control, pain, or psychological power. There are quite a few activities and power dynamics that you can engage in within this type of play (some don’t even have to be sexual). 

What does BDSM stand for? Officially, the BDSM definition stands for Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission, Sadochism and Masochism. 

You also don’t have to commit to the lifestyle all at once – try learning about various types of BDSM play that you can experiment with to see if you’re interested. 


How to Start BDSM

1) Education

It’s important to educate yourself when it comes to BDSM play. You will want to learn how to perform certain activities correctly for safety reasons (and to make the most of the scene, of course). Even tying someone up can be done improperly and be uncomfortable. 

Overall, there’s nothing wrong with asking questions and genuinely not knowing something. There are countless resources within the community and online to learn BDSM – you can find anything you could ever want to know.

Go into your research with an open mind – there is so much BDSM information out there. Something might sound uninteresting at first, but you could end up loving it.  

2. Determine Your Desires

Before communicating with your partner, it’s important to ask yourself a few questions to see where you stand. 

When you let your imagination run wild, which BDSM roles do you see yourself as (are you a dominant figure or a submissive one)? Do you think you would enjoy both? What turns you on the most about this lifestyle? Is it something you want to live 24/7 or just in the bedroom? What types of BDSM turn you on the most? 

3. Communication 

Communication is the key for BDSM success. Once you’ve figured out what you want to experiment with, you have to be completely honest with your partner and see what they might be interested in. 

That said, like any alternative lifestyle, BDSM will not fix your relationship. If you or your partner aren’t both open to being involved in this lifestyle and don’t communicate your desires, nothing you do within a dungeon or play space will fix whatever is broken.

There are a few key BDSM words and terms you should be aware of before entering into a scene. Safety is one of the most important concepts in this lifestyle. Anyone involved in a scene should be completely aware of the parameters of the scene ahead of time.

See, communication.

4. Start Small 

When you really start doing the research, you might feel overwhelmed by the possibilities. There are so many activities! So, when it comes to BDSM for beginners, we recommend starting small. Does the idea of tying your partner up sound sexy? Start there. You don’t have to dive into deep kinks or commit to the lifestyle right away. 

In the beginning, make sure to create safe words (such as red if you want your partner to stop or yellow if you want them to slow down).


Overall, there are no official BDSM rules, so there is no wrong way to do it (as long as you remain Safe, Sane, and Consensual)! This list of BDSM terms can help you get started if you’re a beginner. So, what are you waiting for?