Original: http://www.queernet.org/deviant/

the deviants' dictionary Main Entries Updated 21 July 1997



Item of bondage furniture consisting of a horizontal platform or table with fixing points allowing someone to be stretched out on their back or front with easy access all round: rarely do modern racks provide the facility for progressive stretching familiar from the popular image of the mediaeval torture chamber. See What to use: Racks in the Bondage Reference.


A newer version of the Doctor Marten boot with a thicker sole.


A form of breath control or suffocation involving breathing into an airtight enclosure so the oxygen is cumulatively exhausted and supplanted by exhaled carbon dioxide.


Hanky code for fisting.

reef knot

See square knot.


Machine similar to a TENS machine, sometimes used in electrical play.

restraining, restraint

1. Practice of limiting someone's movement with the use of fastenings of various kinds, as in placing someone 'under restraint' -- in this sense the term is interchangeable with bondage.

2. Restraint, a term for various objects designed for bondage purposes, usually consisting of straps or buckles for placing round limbs prior to fastening them together, as in ankle, elbow, leg and wrist restraints. See What to use: Straps and Restraints in the Bondage Reference.


May mean limiting someone's movement with the use of fastenings of various kinds, as in bondage; or a rule of behaviour placed upon a bottom as part of roleplay; or a special kind of bondage involving binding the chest to restrict the breathing, a form of breath control.


The fetish for boots and shoes.

riding crop

Short whip with a loop of leather on the end intended for use on horses but very useful and adaptable on humans too. See What to use: Riding Whips in the Flagellation Reference.


See rimming.


Giving a rimjob. Mouth contact with the arsehole, including insertion of the tongue inside it. More common than you might think in vanilla sex; in BDSM it may be as a form of service performed on a top by a bottom, but in view of the intensity of the sensation it could go either way. Hygiene precautions should be observed with this activity: unless the area is cleaned extremely thoroughly, including douching, there is likely to be shit around, which may of course be the object of the exercise. See also safer sex.


An alternative name for Permanent Piercing -- see piercing.


Piercing through the ridge above the earhole -- see the Piercing Glossary.


The cheapest, most widely available and most versatile bondage equipment, for which purpose medium thickness nylon rope is to be preferred by beginners. Much more under What to use: Rope in the Bondage Reference; see also the Knots Sourcesheet.

round turn

A useful and quick knot with which to tie down a rope end. See the Knots Sourcesheet.


1. After leather, easily the most popular material fetish going, though it tends to be more popular in Europe, where items can be obtained reasonably cheaply, than in US, where they are very expensive. It mainly takes the form of an interest in clothing, hoods and bondage items made out of latex sheeting and, as with leather, black is the most popular colour, though by no means totally monolithic. Rubber in other colours is popular too, especially in continental Europe. Most of the clothing is purpose made, often in imitation of more conventional styles, but some items, such as all in one suits, are peculiar to the fetish community. Shorts and T-shirts are common but some rubber fans want total coverage, to be totally encased in rubber.

Rubber fetishism often, though not universally, co-occurs with a particular set of other fetishisms and interests: breath control, fisting, piss, shaving and shit are all fairly likely bedfellows.

The character of the rubber scene has changed over the past few decades: in days gone by people could still remember rubber clothing such as raincoats made for practical purposes and the fetish often focussed around such items -- for a fascinating evocation of the 1960s scene see North 1970. Today almost all rubber gear is made specially for fetishists, and its popularity seems to be on the increase, perhaps encouraged by renewed interest in condoms for safer sex purposes. The only vanilla items still found are the ever popular gasmasks, wellington boots and waders and items of heavy industrial protective clothing.

A more detailed document on rubber is forthcoming.

2. Euphemism for condom, especially used in the US.

rubber johnny

Slang term for condom.
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A potentially confusing abbreviation. In SM it stands for sadism and so may indicate a sadist. But it can also stand for 'slave' as opposed to master or mistress. When used for slave it may be written s in lower case; when used for sadist it is most likely to be written in upper case. Thankfully the sense is usually clear from the context.


S/M, S/m, S&M. Normally sadomasochism, though confusingly it occasionally refers to 'slave/master or mistress', in which case it might be written s/M (but in this usage 'M/s' is more usual).


Sadomasochist, person who does SM. See sadomasochism.

Sacher-Masoch, Leopold von

(1836-1895) Aristrocratic Austrian Romantic novelist whose semi-autobiographical Venus im Pelz (Venus in Furs, 1869 -- see Sacher-Masoch 1980) is an influential early account of a mistress-slave relationship. Immortalised when psychologist Krafft-Ebing named the 'disorder' of masochism after him. For more see in Deviant Personalities.

Sade, Marquis de

Donatien Alphonse François, Comte de Sade (1740-1817), French philosopher, novelist and revolutionary whose novels, such as Les 120 Journées de Sodome (The 120 Days of Sodom, 1785 -- see Sade 1966), Justine and Juliette, are as much social satire and philosophical parable as they are provocative portrayals of sexual violence and degradation. Immortalised when psychologist Krafft-Ebing named the 'disorder' of sadism after him. For more see in Deviant Personalities.

sadism, sadist

See sadomasochism.

sadomasochism, sadomasochist

SM, S/M, S/m, S&M, SMer (=sadomasochist). Human sexual behaviour is highly complex and there are no easy definitions for the terms used to describe it -- usage has shifted both over time and from group to group, being adapted to the needs and opinions of the day. The terms sadism and masochism, as used of sex-related activities and interests, and the corresponding sadist and masochist, meaning those who practise such activities or have such interests, were first coined by psychologist Krafft-Ebing, drawing on the names of authors Sade and Sacher-Masoch to characterise what he saw as disorders.

Contrary to the popular understandings of today, Krafft-Ebing did not see the two as complements: sadists were sexually aroused by the infliction of cruelty and pain on others or on themselves, whereas masochists were aroused by fantasies of being controlled, dominated and humiliated. Krafft-Ebing's definition clearly separates two tendencies which are usually present in various proportions in most people who would describe themselves as BDSMers, but which it is often useful to keep distinct: the interest in domination and submission, and the interest in the infliction of pain. However neither Krafft-Ebing nor many of the psychologists following him, until Ellis, made a distinction between those who aroused themselves by inflicting cruelty on unwilling victims, and those who incorporated elements of pain and domination into consensual sexual encounters for mutual pleasure. Thus in everyday speech the term 'sadist' in particular is used loosely to describe anyone who is inordinately cruel or unpleasant.

Freud first blended the pair of terms into sadomasochism, emphasising the potential reciprocity of the use of pain in sexual encounters but obliterating the distinction between what we might call the sensual side of SM and the psychological, dom-sub side. This confusion has persisted and the two are only now beginning to be unpicked by SMers themselves.

Today as it is normally used, the term 'sadomasochism' usually suggests mutual consensual activity for the purposes of sexual arousal which involves some sort of pain, restraint or domination. However, it covers a wide field with very flexible borders, encompassing all kinds of things that aren't considered normal or conventioanl sex: indeed, you sometimes think some people use it to cover everything a little unconventional that they personally find a turn-on.

Some people, however, do attempt to maintain the distinction between interests in pain and in other activities like dom-sub, clothing fetishes, bondage for its own sake and so on, and reserve the term sadomasochism for pain games. Despite Krafft-Ebing's original distinction, today most people on the BDSM scene who describe themselves as 'sadists' intend to emphasise the enjoyment they obtain from inflicting pain, and those who describe themselves as 'masochists' to emphasise the enjoyment they obtain from enduring it, within certain limits. This narrower reading of 'sadomasochism' is reflected in the use of more 'all-encompassing' terms such as 'BDSM', 'perve' and even euphemisms like 'leather'.

For a more detailed discussion of the terms, and a few definitions that have been suggested, see the Dynamics and Definitions Sourcesheet. For an impressionistic and widely-quoted evocation of the diversity of SM, see Donald Miesen's 'A view of Sadomasochism', posted among other places on the Arizona Power Exchange site.

safe out

See safeword.

Safe, Sane and Consensual

A widely-known slogan in the BDSM community that aims to specify the limits of ethically acceptable play. It is not without its flaws: we might ask whether play can (or should) be made totally safe, and also whose standards of sanity are being used. It could be argued that 'consensual' actually encompasses the others, so long as both parties are informed about the risks of what they are doing and every effort is made to avoid unintended consequences. See The SM Orthodoxy: Safe, Sane and Consensual in the Ethics Sourcesheet.

safe signal

See safeword.

safer sex

This term is usually used in connection with having sex more safely from the point of view of transmission of diseases, especially HIV/Aids. Specific advice on health and safety with respect to various activities is discussed under the individual activities themselves; for a general discussion of sexually transmitted diseases and SM, see The Safer Sex Sourcesheet.


Stopword. A word or words agreed before a scene begins that a bottom can use to ask the top to ease up or to stop the scene entirely: the non-verbal equivalent, which may be necessary in the event that the bottom is gagged, is a safe signal or stop signal. It is both a safety device and a way of managing consent, insisted on by some players and avoided by others as artificial. When the bottom uses the word, he or she is said to safe out. For a discussion about the pros and cons see Safewords and Safe Signals in the Ethics Sourcesheet.

St Andrew's cross

See cross.

saran wrap

US brand of clingfilm.


Piercing with two holes on both sides of the arch at the top of the ear, allowing a bar to be worn right across the ear -- see the Piercing Glossary.


Term for playing with shit.


1. An individual SM encounter, as in 'I had a scene with x last night'.

2. The SM community, particularly the more organised and commercial social spaces, as in 'I don't go out on the scene very much'.

scourge, scourging

A scourge is typically a whip of several leather thongs, as once practised by religious flagellants. Used loosely, the term 'scourging' is likely to imply a whipping severe enough to draw blood. See under terms in The Flagellation Reference.


Medically, a bout of unconsciousness coupled with spasming of the muscles, the best known cause of which is epilepsy. Possibly the second most common medical emergency you might have to deal with in an SM scene -- a detailed discussion is under Seizure Management in the First Aid Sourcesheet.


Bondage carried out on oneself during solo play. Special safety precautions must be taken with this style of bondage -- for more see Self Bondage in the Bondage Practical.


Metal bondage item consisting of round cuffs joined by a chain or bar, discussed here as Manacles and Irons in the Bondage Reference.

shackle bolt

U-shaped metal fastening with screw-in barrel across the top used to close it, a useful form of clip in bondage. See What to Use: Padlocks and Clips in the Bondage Reference.


A form of depilation.


In a sexual context, normally refers to a penile sheath, an item designed to tightly sheathe the penis. Some sheaths are items of fetish clothing, worn separately or 'built-in' to other garments. Waterproof sheaths may be connected to gags for piss games. By far the commonest sheath, however, is the condom, designed as a contraceptive and now widely used for safer sex purposes; in fact the term 'sheath' is sometimes used interchangeably with 'condom'.

Note that only a proper condom should be relied upon for contraception and safer sex; if you intend to fuck someone while wearing a fetish or novelty sheath, wear a very generously lubricated strong condom underneath.


A knot used to shorten a rope that has already been fastened at both ends -- see the Knots Sourcesheet.


A knot used to tie two ropes together; the slipped sheetbend is similar but even easier to untie -- see the Knots Sourcesheet.


There is a common fetish for certain kinds of shoes -- see under boots and shoes.


The scientific name for being aroused by excrement is coprophilia, though games involving shit are known more commonly (and euphemistically) by the term scat (this word is derived from 'scatology', originally the medical practise of diagnosis through the inspection of faeces, from a Greek root that is cognate with English 'shit', though curiously enough 'scatology' was used in the 19th century to mean 'pornography' -- see McDonald 1996:129). The hanky code for shit is brown.

Some people may find the shit itself a turn-on, others find it as repulsive as most people but get off on the degradation and humiliation of playing with it; it may also be linked to an interest in arseholes (see arseplay) as a sex organ. Shit games range from an interest in fucking shitty arseholes, through wanting to handle and be smeared in it to wanting to eat it, a practise known as coprophagy, perhaps as part of a submissive fantasy about being a toilet (see also rimming).

Though having shit on unbroken skin can do little harm, there are some health risks attached to coprophagy, particularly involving the transmission of bacterial and yeast infections and viruses like hepatitis-B (although shit is not particularly a risk for HIV unless blood is present -- see safer sex). Some people act out these kinds of games as fantasy by substituting items like chocolate cake at the last moment.

More information on shit play is in preparation.

signal whip

Medium-length plaited leather whip similar to a small bullwhip, as used with dog teams. See What to Use: Whips in the Flagellation Reference.


Form of paddle with hinged second surface to produce extra-loud noise on contact. See What to Use: Paddles in the Flagellation Reference.


Once used more generally for an SM bottom, this is now becoming limited to submissive in a long-term dominant- submissive relationship. See master.


A bag in which to wrap the body for a particularly intense form of bondage, custom-made from leather or rubber or improvised from a sleeping bag and rope or straps. See What to Use: Garments in the Bondage Reference; see also mummification.

slipped sheetbend

See Sheetbend.


1. Medical implement designed to be inserted into the urethra, usually consisting of a smooth metal bar, which may be straight as in the Dittle sound or hooked like the Van Buren sound. For more information see the Briefing.

2. Sound, in the sense of aural stimulation, is sometimes used in the context of a scene. More information is forthcoming.


Hitting someone with the flat of the palm, typically on the buttocks, as a form of corporal punishment. A similar physical effect can be achieved by using a paddle and sometimes this is included under spanking. More on manual spanking in the Briefing; beating using implements of various kinds is dealt with under flagellation.


The original codeword for a police investigation in England in 1991, Operation Spanner, that resulted in the arrest and conviction of consensual gay male sadomasochists on assault charges, effectively rendering SM sex of all but the lightest kinds illegal in England. The judgement is still in place, all appeals up to and including the European Court of Human Rights having failed. For more details see in the SM and the Law Sourcesheet.


Device intended for medical examination of the rectum or vagina, normally made of steel in a duckbill design. The 'bill' is lubricated and inserted and then the two jaws are moved apart with a screw mechanism, stretching the opening to give a clear view down the throat of the instrument. Objects such as swabs can also be inserted through the throat and into the office. Used by SMers in medical scenes but also in more general use; the ability to slowly increase the tension on the opening is useful in anal fisting as a way of gradually stretching and relaxing the sphincter. Proctoscopes are similar devices. For safety reasons toys like this should only be used on one person unless effectively sterilised in between -- see safer sex. A full briefing on insertive toys is in preparation.

Spencer paddle

Form of wooden paddle with holes drilled in striking surface. See What to Use: Paddles in the Flagellation Reference.

square knot

Reef knot. The simplest and one of the most common and effective general purpose knots for tying two ends of rope together -- see the Knots Sourcesheet.


Substantial item of bondage furniture based on mediaeval model, usually consisting of a two hinged pieces of wood with semi-circular holes that when locked together form rings to trap neck, wrists and/or ankles. See What to Use: Crosses, Stocks and Posts in the Bondage Reference.


See safeword.

straight 8

A type of handcuff.

strait jacket

A garment sometimes used on prisoners or psychiatric patients with closed-ended sleeves that can be strapped around the person's back, sometimes also used for bondage. See What to Use: Garments in the Bondage Reference.


See under breath control.


1. Length of leather or other material used for fastening -- see What to Use: Straps and Restraints in the Bondage Reference.

2. As above but used for striking the body; may also refer to a specially made item for this purpose. See under What to Use: Straps and Belts in the Flagellation Reference. Thus strapping, striking with a strap.


See strap 2.


Term covering a variety of toys used for stretching muscles or parts of the body. A ball stretcher in fact stretches the scrotum above the balls -- see under ball toy. In bondage, stretchers are cuffs attached to long solid bars designed to hold limbs apart. See What to Use: Stretchers in the Bondage Reference.


Submissive, usually used of a person. See domination.


Submissive (as an adjective). See domination.


The act of or interest in submitting to a someone else's will, within limits, for sexual purposes. See domination.


One who submits. See domination.


See under breath control.


An advanced variety of bondage in which the whole body is lifted off the ground and hangs free in space. See the Briefing.


1. Someone who switches between Top and Bottom roles, either from scene to scene or within a scene, also known as a switch-hitter.

2. Small cane with split end: see What to Use: Canes in the Flagellation Reference.


See switch 1.


See under codes and symbols.
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Total Power Exchange.

TENS unit

Transcutaneous Electrical Neural Stimulation unit, one of a number of machines designed for applying electrical pulses to the body at safe levels. Similar machines include EMS (Electrical Muscle Stimulator) units and Relaxicisors. See What to Use in the Electricity Reference.


The Eulenspiegel Society.


1. Leather strap split most of the way down its length, formerly used for the corporal punishment of juveniles in Scotland. See What to Use: Straps and Belts in the Flagellation Reference.

temporary piercing

See piercing.


Fixing someone to a point to limit their movement, usually by means of a rope. Used in bondage and suspension.


A form of electrical depilation.


Sometimes used as a codeword to indicate a desire to drink piss.


See under handcuffs.

timber hitch

A knot for attaching the middle of a length of rope to a bar or pole -- see the Knots Sourcesheet.


Top and its compliment bottom are two terms coined in the last two decades to designate the 'agent' and 'patient' roles respectively in an SM scene while avoiding the loadedness of the existing terms like master-slave; they can be used just in relation to the scene itself and don't imply anything about the participants' regular practice, though they are also used to describe people who typically take one role or the other.

Also may not imply role-played domination and submission but just who does what to whom. Confusingly some people associate them with anal intercourse, but it should be remembered that some tops like to get fucked too. A person who alternates both roles, either from scene to scene or within a scene, is known as a switch or switch-hitter.

See also domination, master, sadomasochism and the discussions of terms in the Dynamics and Definitions Sourcesheet.


In SM, usually used to indicate the use of techniques that produce sustained sensations of continuously variable intensity, some of which may be painful, usually focussed on some identifiable body part. May also refer to pleasurable sexual stimulation alternating with deliberate frustration. See ball torture, cock torture, cunt torture, nipple torture.

total coverage

Expression used by rubber fetishists for when the whole body is encased in rubber.

total power exchange

TPE. Term occasionally used to describe a full-time (24/7) dom-sub or master/mistress-slave relationship. See also power exchange.


Generally, any item of equipment used in an SM scene; sometimes used more specifically only for toys designed to be inserted into bodily orifices such as buttplugs and dildos. The choice of words relating to childhood recreation is interesting: compare with play.


Piercing through the ridge on the face side of the earhole -- see the Piercing Glossary.


See cross dressing.


24 hours a day, 7 days a week master/mistress-slave relationship.
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