Keeping the Hokey Out of Your Pokey — Appropriate Vernacular for Sex Scenes

NSFW Warning: WATCH OUT. This is gonna get dirty.

… she guides my fingers inside the top of her panties, sliding my palm farther down. My right arm under her neck yanks her a little closer, and she sucks in a breath as three of my fingertips on my left hand scrape and scratch at her baby-pink pussy; my steely, purple-mushroom-headed cock hardens further, squirting out some precum when I breathe in the salty aroma of her dripping-wet love lunchbox.

The f*ck did I just read?

I’m sure we’ve all had that experience: you’re reading a book, things are heating up, and then the author drops a bomb on you—and not in a good way.

No one wants to be the person who writes sex scenes that make people squirm uncomfortably.

So what’s the lowdown on writing the down and dirty? Let’s talk vernacular for sex scenes.

Vernacular for Sex Scenes — What to Say

Let’s just get this out of the way:

PENIS PENIS PENIS
VAGINA VAGINA VAGINA

Beyond these, there are a few terms that are totally fine to use, and some we want to use, um, NEVER.

Now, keep in mind: this is very, very subjective. Especially when it comes to the female words in the Questionable category, which can absolutely be appropriate in certain circumstances. So just use your best judgment.

The Good
MaleFemale
CockClit
DickCenter
ErectionInside
Shaft
The Questionable
MaleFemale
PenisPussy
MemberVagina
Cunt
The Ridiculous
MaleFemale
Baloney PonyBadly Wrapped
ChopperKebab
DicksicleBald Man In A Boat
DiddlyBean
Ding-A-LingBearded Clam
Ding-DongBearded Oyster
DingleBeaver
DingyBirth Cannon
Disco StickBlue Waffle
DongCha Cha
Donger DorkCherry
FuckpoleCock Pocket
JimmyCoochie
JohnsonCookie
John ThomasCooter
JoystickFish Taco
KnobFront Bottom
Love MuscleFuck Hole
Male RodFur Burger
ManhoodFur Pie
MeatstickGap
Mushroom-headGrowler
PackageHair Burger
PeckerHair Pie
PeenHam Flap
Pee-PeeHam Wallet
Pee-WeeHoo Hoo
PeterHot Pocket
PhallusKernel
Pink CigarKitty
Pink PennywhistleKooch
Pink SwordLove Button
SausageLove Hole
SchlongLunchmeat
SkinfluteMeat Curtains
SnakeMeat Flap
SpitstickMeat Wallet
TallywhackerMinge
Third LegMoose Knuckle
Trouser SnakeMuff
UnitNub
WangPink Canoe
WeaponPink Jelly Bean
Wee-WeePink (Velvet) Sausage Wallet
WeinerPink Taco
WillyPiss Flaps
WinkyPookie
Poon / Poonaner / Poonani / Poontang
Promised Land
Quif
Quivering Mound of Love Pudding
Roast Beef
Skittle
Slit
Smush Mitten
Snapper
Snatch
Soggy Box
Tampon Tunnel
Tang
Trim
Tunnel of Love
Twat
Vag
Vagoo
Vajayjay
Vertical Smile
Whispering Eye

Are we turned on yet?

How to Say It

So now that you know what words to use and not to use (really, tunnel of love? *shudder*), let’s talk about how to wield them like a master.

Good Vernacular for Sex Scenes

Photo by Joe deSousa on Unsplash

The Good

The best sex scenes use very specific words to increase tension, set the mood, and control the tone.

Are your characters wracked with tension, shivering in place as they watch one another through long sentences with complicated rhythms, their breaths and pulses ebbing and flowing with the slow rise of a hand gently brushing—not scrubbing—across the other person’s cheek?

Or it is hard and fast, roughly slamming into the door. Stumbling down the hallway. Shredding clothes, and gasping with the need for more skin?

Either way: take care that each word you’re using invokes the right image, and keep in mind the image you want to create.

How does it speak to the deeper meaning of your sex scene: is this a long-awaited moment, is this a mistake, is this a Band-Aid on a bigger problem? There are many different situations when sex can happen between your characters, so make sure you’re using language appropriate to the circumstances. Don’t be afraid to get deep!

The Bad

Clichés.

We want to avoid clichés in sex scenes like the plague (eh?). But what’s a cliché?

  • Topping peaks
  • Stars bursting behind eyes
  • Anything with the word “abyss”
  • If it could be in an 80s book with Fabio on the cover and no one would blink a whispering eye

As well, while you’re making sure your characters aren’t falling off some proverbial mountain and tumbling down a hill of pulsing pleasure, keep an eye out to make sure they’re not doing the Hokey Pokey behind your back, either.

I put my left arm here, I put my right hand there, I put my dick in this, and she gives a happy shout.

No thanks.

Choreography is important. We wanna know how they’re doing it, and if maybe we can learn a new bedroom move or two.

But the more specific you get with right hand this and left foot that, the more you slow down your scene. And the more you pull the reader out of the story, because now they’re really, really trying to imagine it, and chances are, they’re gonna have questions.

We don’t want them to have questions. We want them panting. Writhing. Inhaling the pages. Not asking: “How the heck did he move his right arm that way? Is he double-jointed?” That’s just unfair to the reader. Let them enjoy their sex scene, mental gymnastics not included.

No Hokey Pokey.

The Ugly

Anything overly medically graphic is gonna get a scrunch face from me. I know what comes out of a penis during ejaculation. I don’t want to read about dudebros squirting their seeds onto the pubic hairs around a vulva, though.

We want to be considerate, respectful, and in reverence of the body itself.

We want to use words that convey a sense of desire. Many people have insecurities when it comes to the way they look, feel, even smell in their private areas. That’s right, I said smell. St. Eve’s has a product line for a reason! So make sure you are addressing these things in a way that makes the reader feel good about themselves.

When you’re thinking of vernacular for sex scenes, remember the golden rule, y’all: write people bumpin’ and grindin’ how you would want to be written.

And it should go without saying, but: consent is sexy! So is practicing safe sex, and general respect for another person’s well-being and comfort level. If you’re gonna go hard, establish parameters, know where the line is for sexual harassment, and don’t freaking cross it. Or you can keep your pork sword far away from my Hot Pocket.

Feature image by Michael Prewett on Unsplash 

Katie Golding
Katie Golding lives in Austin, Texas with her beloved husband/research assistant, a prized griddle larger than some European nations, and a son who shows every sign of growing up to be a caped avenger—fearlessly attacking plush triceratops and imagined alligators in the defense of the meek and vulnerable. She is the author of Swap Out and Order Up, is currently at work on her next novel, and is represented by Kelly Peterson of Corvisiero Literary Agency.
Katie Golding on Twitter

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