I’ve covered how childbirth terms can make you want to puke (view), and how pregnancy terms can make you hide under a tarp (view), but let’s go even earlier, to the very start. The very act that results in babies.
Words have a depth that goes beyond their dictionary definitions. Compare telling a man they’re “big” to telling a woman she’s “big.” See? That’s called nuance, or getting hit in the head with a purse. Further, if you say “they were doing it” it seems like you should be wearing roller skates, but if you say “they were fornicating” you sound like Orville Redenbacher after a bad divorce.
The impression given by sex-related terms and phrases can vary wildly. People are often left having to choose from a handful of words (sounding like biology textbooks) or several armfuls of slang words (sounding like a porno). Don’t worry, this won’t get X-rated.
Let’s take a look, with fresh eyes, at some of these rather clinical terms and analyze their impressions. There’s enough sex-related slang alternatives to fill up a website, but maybe we’ll come up with some enhancements…
Intercourse → Rendezvous
Medical definition: communication or dealings between individuals or groups. (Whoops! That was the definition for just “intercourse.” Wait. Huh?)
Will I need a special access code or ID card for “intercourse”? Just seems such a stale crumb of a word compared to the yummy feast that the act can be, right? If a business-like word is going to be used for sex, why not a French word like “rendezvous” instead? They’re kind of known for being a bit happy-go-horny.
Copulate → Humpulate
Medical definition: to have sexual intercourse.
Seriously? To the person who made up this word, did you ever actually HAVE sex? It’s pretty rad by most accounts. And it doesn’t require rulers or tubes or rubber gloves. Um. Even though some people may be into that sort of thing. Okay, so “humpulate” might not be the best alternative, but at least it doesn’t sound like law enforcement are involved or something a steam engine does.
Coitus → [any other word for sex EVER CREATED]
Medical definition: the act of sexual intercourse.
Don’t you get the idea that this is what sex should be called for insects that eat each other after they’re spent? Let’s face it – aaaaaanything – even “fragglerocking” would be a better word than coitus. (My apologies for making it weird, Fraggle Rock fans.)
Vagina → [Hmmmm…]
Medical definition: the muscular tube leading from the external genitals to the cervix of the uterus in women.
Vagina’s not bad. Aside from sounding like the name of a stout maid from a foreign country, maybe. The word’s origin started out meaning “sheath” and further back meant “to break, split, bite.” Yikes. It’d be great if there were a term that doesn’t have an origin tied to any of those words or a thing a weapon gets jammed into.
The alternative options to choose from are nearly endless. Some are pretty vulgar of course, but they all give off different impressions. Take a look this annotated chart from Ann of Feministing.com:
(You can see the original post here.)
Clitoris → Jewel
Medical definition: a small sensitive and erectile part of the female genitals at the anterior end of the vulva.
Doesn’t matter if you say it so it sounds like glitter-iss or like cli-TOR!-iss, “jewel” is better than either way. Plus, it IS a commonly sought-after, precious treasure after all, right? Though this word change could make things a tad awkward for the singer-songwriter, it could probably just as easily boost her record sales. They may not be “forever,” like diamonds, but then again they don’t need to be. Just for long enough.
Penis → Scepter
Medical definition: the male genital organ, for the transfer of sperm during
copulation “humpulation,” and also for the elimination of urine.
Even Darth Vader couldn’t make this wimpy-sounding word seem impressive. A lot of men would prefer this anatomical part to not actually be dinky, so why should the non-porny word for it sound like it belongs on a garden gnome? A “scepter” sounds much more royal.
Testicles → Love Nuggets
Medical definition: the two oval organs that produce sperm in men, enclosed in the scrotum under the penis.
I admit “love nuggets” might ruin Happy Meals for some, but testicles is a great word… Pfft! For a disease or something rotting on a log!
Scrotum → Satchel
Medical definition: a pouch of skin containing the testicles.
While the word “scrotum” makes me laugh every single time I hear it, generally people don’t want their bits and pieces to elicit laughter. Also, satchel is a rad word that deserves to be used daily.
Genitals → Majestia
Medical definition: the external organs of reproduction.
Show of hands here, people. What uglier word could you say in the act of sex than this?! Deal breaker. Even scrotum kinda starts to take on a certain charm compared to this train wreck of a word. Let’s go with something just a bit more poetic for these biological utensils for intimacy and procreation.
Orgasm → Kablammy
Medical definition: a climax of sexual excitement, characterized by feelings of pleasure centered in the genitals.
The wonderfulness of the meaning distracts us from how phoenetically awful this word is. It’s way too pleasurable to sound like an organ cramping or something. I guess kablammy kind of sounds explosive. But in a good way, right?
Ejaculate → Guy-ser
Medical definition: to eject semen from the body at the moment of sexual climax.
Sounds like a cruise ship jettisoning food garbage. “Let’s ejaculate the shellfish; the lower decks are starting to complain.” An amazing natural phenomenon seems a more grand a virile association. Even if it isn’t in actuality.
Impregnate → Preggify
Medical definition: make a woman pregnant.
Yeah. Impregnate. Sooooo romantic, right? Sounds like Kevlar might be advisable. While Latin was probably a beautiful language, it is now a dead language. And since mummies don’t win beauty pageants, maybe it’s time this one got a makeover. One that doesn’t involve embalming fluid.
Heh. Is it hot in here, or is it just the heat rising from the masses of people I’ve just pissed off or embarrassed?
Everyone has their own comfort levels for all the various sex-related words. For some it can be touchy. For others, feely. And for some it can be downright sweaty and nasty. But it’s a part of life, and making life, so we’re always going to need to talk about it to some degree; whether the film rating with which we choose to do so is The Lion King’s circle of life, or Cockzilla’s circle of…
Also see: Childbirth Terms Can Make You Want to Puke
Because sometimes miracles are gross sounding.
Also see: Pregnancy Terms Can Make You Hide Under a Tarp
Latin and Greek origins can make having a bun in the oven sound awful.
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More on Words
That’s “more on” and not “moron” words. Okay, maybe a little of both.