The Vocabulary of Swinging


Every field of human activity generates at least a few words that have a special or unique meaning within its community of practitioners. Being familiar with such jargon can be more than useful if you wish to interact smoothly with people with greater experience in the activity. Swinging is certainly no exception.

At your next sex party, you would likely find few, if any, participants who know all of the terms defined below. But even the most arcane terms do pop up from time to time in magazine and Internet ads. So, in the interest of thoroughness, we have listed some words that aren't really used a lot and included others just because they're rather humorous.

Many of these words have retained the same meaning for several decades. Others change, and new ones are added as the scope of activities broadens or as people of different tastes become involved. If you should come across a term that isn't defined herein, or feel that a different meaning is being ascribed to one that is listed, please let us know.

We have also included a few terms invented by  — or exclusively promoted from within  — the scientific community. Researchers have been known to spend inordinate amounts of time making up labels for various configurations of people and categorizing the people themselves under numerous and rather arbitrary headings. They then proudly publish their "findings" in learned journals. Luckily, most of these scholarly publications are bought for status reasons and are rarely read, even by fellow scientists, let alone by the people who are the article's subjects. In contrast, we see each person as an individual whose unique characteristics are not subsumed within the group. So we have refrained from including most of the abstruse names that sociologists and psychologists have dreamed up for the "types" of swingers that they have "discovered."

Also missing from our list are sex-manual definitions of coitus, homosexuality, etc. Anyone who doesn't know the location and function of the clitoris should be looking at some other website.

A few terms are described as "buzz words." A buzz word is a term that has meaning only in relation to the user, and really doesn't communicate accurately  — if it is understood at all. We urge you to avoid using such buzz words in your communications.

When more than one definition is given, the one indicated by a lower number is preferable to or more common than any with higher numbers.

AC/DC  — (The preferred term is "Bi" or "Versatile.")

ADULTERY  — This term is hardly swinging jargon, but including it here gives us an opportunity to note that "thou shalt not commit adultery" originally meant only that a man's wife, being his property, was prohibited from enjoying another man sexually. The tribesmen who came up with this idea never intended to prohibit themselves from having all the wives and mistresses they could afford. Although still a legal matter in most locales, adultery is a null concept for independent people.

AMBISEXUAL  — (see Bi)

ANIMAL TRAINING (LOVERS)  — Bestiality. Sexual interaction with animals, usually dogs (kennel), sometimes horses (stable), or almost anything. Not the sort of thing you'll likely see at parties, but you might run across an ad from someone seeking such alien encounters.

ARTS  — [See Culture.]

ATTRACTIVE  — A buzz word meaning the way the user likes people to look. Also, the way the user believes him/ herself to look. Which, of course, tells you nothing.

BABY SWINGER  — A person who is new to swinging.

BAR [Swinger's]  — A restaurant or cocktail lounge that is periodically open exclusively for swingers. Overt sexual activities usually are not sanctioned on the premises.

BARBIE & KEN [or Ken & Barbie]  — A "sour-grapes" reference used by some overweight folks to disparage the expectation of pleasing proportions. As in: "I trust you're not looking for Barbie and Ken."

B&D  — Bondage and Discipline (or Domination).

BI  — A person who enjoys sexual relations with those of the same gender in addition to heterosexual relations. (Versatile)

BI-CURIOUS — Someone tantalized by the idea of same-gender interactions but with little or no experience at same.

BI-PLAYFUL — Describes a person who feels no attraction to the same gender but who has no hang-ups that preclude a bit of friendly fooling around when the situation seems to call for it.

BIZARRE  — (see Way Out)

BONDAGE  — 1. The tying, chaining, or otherwise restraining of someone, usually in an uncomfortable if not painful position, in the process of enacting real or pseudo-sadistic/masochistic scenes. 2. (see Restraint)

BOTTOM — (See Sub.)

CAN ENTERTAIN  — The advertisers have a home or other place suitable for swinging.

CAN TRAVEL  — The advertisers are generally free of any restrictions that might keep them from traveling to your home, or elsewhere, to party.

CANING  — (see English Culture)

CLEAN  — A buzz word meaning almost nothing except that the users believe themselves to be free of sexually transmitted diseases.

CLOSED SWINGING  — Sexual activity between two people that takes place in private (usually behind closed doors) away from other party attendees.

CLOSET SWINGERS  — People who hide their swinging proclivities. This would apply to almost all swingers in non-swinging situations and is, therefore, a pretty useless term.

CPL  — Couple.

CLUB [Swinger's]  — A place temporarily or permanently managed by a group where swingers may meet. Clubs commonly have a bar of some sort and a dance floor, and often offer a spa and/or a swimming pool. An "on-premise" club will have separate rooms with beds, or at least mattresses for sexual play. At an "off-premise" club, no beds are available and sexual contact is more or less restricted.

COLONIC WATER SPORTS  — The giving and/or receiving of enemas as a sexual stimulus. Sometimes the liquid is held in the rectum with the aid of a plug while fucking. Note: the term "Water Sports" alone is a reference to urination.

COMARITAL SEX (RELATIONS)  — Consensual sex between and among married couples or significant dyads.

CONSENSUAL ADULTERY  — Sexual activity on the part of one or both marriage partners that takes place away from the spouse, yet with the knowledge and approval of the spouse.

CORPORATE MARRIAGE  — A group marriage (fictional, as far as we know) in which all adult participants own equal shares of stock in a legal corporation set up to control family assets. For more about this, see Robert Rimmer's novel Proposition 31.

CROSSDRESSER  — A person who receives erotic stimulation from wearing (and often modeling) clothing usually associated with the opposite sex.

CULTURE  — A specific type of activity indicated by prefixing the name of a country or society that is supposedly known for such inclinations, as in "Greek Culture" (anal) or "French Culture" (oral).

CYCLIC MONOGAMY  — A relationship in which distinct periods are spent with each of several different spouses in rotation.

DAISY CHAIN  — A configuration of four or more people in which each person is orally stimulating the genitals of the person in front of him/her while simultaneously being stimulated orally by the person, if any, behind. If such a line forms a complete circle, the Daisy Chain is "perfect."

DISCIPLINE  — Any act demonstrating control of one person over another that involves force or the threat of force and is found sexually stimulating by the participants.

DISCREET  — Not likely to do or say anything that might reveal a swinger's identity.

DISCRETION  — An indication of the need for caution so that children or others who may open mail or answer the telephone will not be offended or made aware of the swinging activity.

DOCILE  — (see Submissive)

DOM — The person playing the dominant (controlling) role in an S/M scene.

D/S  — Dominant/Submissive.

DYAD  — Two people as a couple.

ENGLISH (CULTURE or ARTS)  — Sexual stimulation by spanking or caning the buttocks.

EXPANDED FAMILY  — Any form of family that expands the nuclear family through inclusion of people and relationships by selection rather than by blood. As opposed to an "extended" family, which is related by blood or marriage.

EXTRAMARITAL SEX (RELATIONS)  — Sexual activity without the participation and often without the approval or knowledge of the spouse.

FISH FRY  — A rather tacky and un-politically correct — but humorously inventive — term for a group of women (usually four or more) having same-sex relations while being observed by some or all of their male partners.

FOUNTAIN OF VENUS  — Female urination.

FRENCH (CULTURE or ARTS)  — Oral-genital stimulation.

FRENCH BATH  — A tongue bath.

GENEROUS  — A person willing directly or indirectly to pay money for whatever sexual material or interaction is offered.

GERMAN (CULTURE or ARTS)  — l. Erotic acts characterized by the stern disciplining of one partner by the other. 2. S/M.

GOLDEN SHOWER  — One or more people urinating upon another.

GREEK (CULTURE or ARTS)  — 1. Anal intercourse. 2. Any anal-erotic act.

GROUP MARRIAGE  — A group of four or more people in which all participants consider themselves to be married to every other participant.

GROUP SEX  — A general term for the various sexual activities that occur as a result of an agreement between three or more people while gathered together. 2. Swinging.

GROWTH SWINGING  — (see Utopian)

HARD CORE  — If people are called "hard core" they are thought of as: (a) exercising little or no selectivity in choosing sex partners, and/or (b) participating in swinging with an almost religious fervor, as often as circumstances allow, and/or (c) wanting no more emotional or mental involvement than is absolutely necessary to complete the sexual encounter. [Like Bigfoot, "hard core" swingers are often referred to, but rarely sighted. Perhaps they once roamed this continent and are now extinct.]

HEAD JOCKEY  — A person who prefers oral-genital contact to genital-genital contact. Sometimes a man is motivated to earn this appellation because he has an exceptionally small penis or exceptional difficulty attaining an erection. A woman who suffers discomfort from vaginal penetration could do likewise. [We always appreciate such creative responses to life's little difficulties.]

HEAVIES  — A buzz word meaning anyone the user doesn't like who weighs more than the user weighs.

HORIZONTAL — People who enjoy swinging, as contrasted with "vertical" folks who do not. As in "This party will be a mix of my horizontal and vertical friends."

INTIMATE NETWORK  — A group of nuclear families separately domiciled, but joined by a network of comarital relations.


KING OF HEARTS  — A position involving one male who is being kissed on the lips by a female while simultaneously being fellated by another female. The term is based on the head-at-both-ends illustrations on playing cards.

KING OF THE MOUNTAIN  — One male being simultaneously stimulated by three or more people.

LEATHER  — A reference to the appreciation of the feel and look of leather against the skin. Often, but not always, associated with B/D, restraint, or S/M.

LIGHT  — Implies a surface exploration without getting too heavily involved.

LINE MARRIAGE  — A group marriage that is open to the addition of younger members selected by the group, thus establishing a continuing family line through selection rather than birth. Described in Robert Heinlein's The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, this arrangement is sometimes spoken of wistfully, but never actually carried out  — to our knowledge.

MEET FOR PLEASURE  — An indication that the user is interested only in sex; no pretense for social or emotional interaction not directly related to sexual activity. Used chiefly in personal ads and letters in answer to personal ads. (We don't advise assuming this precise meaning without further explanation from the user.)

MENAGE À TROIS  — (pronounced: menazh ah twahh) 1. (See Triad.) 2. (See Threesome.)

MIXED  — A biracial partnership.

MODERN MARRIEDS  — Sometimes used when advertising in a newspaper or magazine that is not sexually oriented. Indicates a married couple who enjoy some form of sexual interaction with others.

MULTILATERAL SEXUALITY  — A broad term covering all sexual activities occurring between non-coupled people with the consent of all involved dyads. Includes swinging, group sex, co-marital sex, consensual adultery, etc. Does not include secret affairs or extramarital sex.

OLD  — A buzz word meaning anyone the user doesn't like who was born before the user.

OPEN MARRIAGE  — A fairly general term signifying cooperation between marriage partners without dependence, flexible roles, individual sanctity and growth, privacy, equality, trust, etc.

OPEN SEX (SWINGING)  — Sexual activity among two or more people that is open to the view and often the participation of other party attendees.

ORGY  — l. A group of five or more people involved in various combinations of sexual interactions open to the view and participation of everyone. 2. Any party where sexual interactions are sanctioned.

ORGY BUTTER  — Any of several lubricants used in sexual activities. [If this term strikes you as unaesthetic, don't even think about "Crease Grease."]

ORIENTAL (CULTURE or ARTS)  — The least used and least-well-defined culture. Can mean the insertion into the anus and climactic yanking out of a beaded string. Sometimes used to indicate an interest in Ben Wa Balls, or any other product the user associates with the Orient. A good example of jargon that inhibits communication.

PARTY  — Other than its obvious meaning, this is often used as a euphemism for sexual relations, as in "Let's party" or "Did you ever party with them?"

PARTY HOUSE  — A multi-roomed building that is designed and operated to aid and encourage sexual activity between guests on the premises. Many exist covertly throughout the country.

PET TRAINING  — (see Animal Training)

PLAYCOUPLES — A term devised by the Lifestyles Organization (a private business that operates conventions) to describe "both swingers and those couples who enjoy enhancing the eroticism in their lives but stop short of being swingers."

POLYAMORY  — The currently fashionable term for multilateral relationships involving a broader commitment than normally associated with recreational sex. The proponents of polyamory expound a holistic view of multiple relationships, with an emphasis on love and shared responsibilities. In the past, this phenomenon has gone on under various labels, such as group marriage, expanded family, intimate network, and utopian swinging.

P/P  — Photo and Phone.

PRETZEL  — Any arrangement of four or more people simultaneously involved in mutual sexual stimulation, usually around a central person or couple.

PRIMARY BOND  — A dyadic relationship that takes precedence over other relationships.

PROFESSIONAL  — 1. A buzz word used to suggest that the user is better educated or higher class than the average advertiser. 2. Someone being paid for their sexual participation.

QUEEN OF HEARTS  — King of Hearts with the gender reversed.

QUEEN OF THE MAY  — One female being simultaneously stimulated by three or more people.

RECREATIONAL  — A subjective term used to indicate an emphasis on the playfulness of social/sexual interaction, as opposed to "utopian." Sometimes used to disparage (as in "merely recreational") by implying a lack of "higher" purpose in swinging.

RESTRAINT  — Any restriction of movement  — without involving pain  — designed to remove a person's physical control over what transpires in a sexual interaction. The subjects of restraint might, for example, be tied down using fur-lined leather cuffs around their wrists; whereas, the subjects of bondage would likely be bound by tight cords cutting into more sensitive body parts. Restraint might be encountered from time to time at your "average" swinging party, but bondage is virtually always limited to clubs specializing in S&M/B&D activities.

ROMAN (CULTURE or ARTS)  — Sexual orgies. Many people doing many things in the same place at the same time.

RUBBER  — A reference to the appreciation of the look or feel of rubber against the skin. Usually associated with S/M. Also, of course, a condom.

SAFE  — 1. Used to describe a person who is sterile. Usually a man who has had a vasectomy. 2. (See Clean.)

SAFE SEX  — A misnomer usually meant to indicate an insistence on the use of condoms during intercourse. (Nothing in life is "safe.")

SAME-SEX  — Sexual interactions between two or more people of matching gender. This term describes an activity and does not imply a permanent psychological orientation or lifestyle as do the terms "homosexual" and "bisexual."

SASE  — An acronym of Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope. 1. A way to imply popularity. 2. An indication of a monetary motivation for placing the advertisement.

SCAT — Playing with shit. We've never seen it done at a swing party, but have run across it in ads now and then.

SELECTIVE  — A buzz word denoting an assumed characteristic that is used as an excuse when the user doesn't like someone. Also, an ego support for those who are unsure of themselves.

SERIAL MONOGAMY  — A succession of monogamous relationships of varying duration terminated by mutual agreement and/or divorce. Also called "sequential monogamy." Usually financially and emotionally disastrous, serial monogamy is a poor alternative to swinging.

SGL  — Single.

SLENDER  — A buzz word meaning anyone who weighs the same or less than the user weighs.

S/M  — Sadomasochism. Any of various practices (bondage, restraint, dominance, etc.) traditionally associated with sadism or masochism but limited to injury-free, consensual activities.

SNOWFLAKE  — A symmetrical pretzel. [Isn't that cute?]

SOCIAL  — A gathering sponsored by a magazine, business, or organization where people meet to talk, dance, drink and, often, eat. For making contacts only, although socials are usually held in hotels where rooms can be rented for private interactions resulting from the public meeting.

SOCIAL SWING CLUB A membership organization that sponsors swinging and other social activities such as trips and lectures.

SOFT SWINGING  — 1. One couple enjoying various sexual interactions with another couple but without exchanging partners for actual penetration. (As with teenage make-out parties, such resolutions not to "go all the way" are often short-lived.) 2. Some still use the term in its original meaning as an antonym of "hard-core" to indicate that the participants are interested in developing friendly relationships in addition to sharing sexual activities.

STD  — Sexually Transmitted Disease.

SQUARE  — A buzz word indicating a person who is not as liberal as the user.

STRAIGHT  — A word with entirely too many meanings. 1. Not versatile or homosexual. 2. A non-swinger. 3. Not sadistic, masochistic, or whatever else the user believes is perverted. 4. A person who does not use drugs, other than alcohol. 5. Square.

STR.  — Straight.

SUB — The person playing the submissive/subservient role in an S/M scene.

SUBMISSIVE  — Willing to be the subject of discipline or bondage.

SWALLOW-THE-LEADER  — (See Daisy Chain.)

SWAPPING  — Two couples exchanging spouses for sexual activities. Although most participants long ago ceased to use the term "wife-swapping" because it implies a male-dominated bartering of wives as possessions, some still use "spouse-swapping" or "mate-swapping." [Such terms still have overtones of ownership and are rarely used. Except in jest we recently heard a young woman remark to a girlfriend that she had to watch her weight because "We have to stay swappable, you know."]

SWEDISH (CULTURE or ARTS)  — The talented and exclusive use of the hands to erotically stimulate one's partner.

SWINGING  — Activities involving consensual and conjoint participation in sexual interactions by a male-female couple with other couples. Single people are sometimes invited to join in the fun, but a single man or woman who claims to enjoy a "swinging lifestyle" is using the term in a different sense entirely.

No one knows for sure how the term "swinging" came to be associated with group sexual interaction, but there are three oft-espoused theories associated with three of the definitions of "swing."

Theory Number One: "swing to sway backward and forward with regular movement oscillate." Thus, "swinging" could be a reference to the constant movement out to a new partner, back to the spouse, out to a new partner, and so on.

Theory Number Two: "swing jazz music especially in its development after 1935." The association of the musical term with the lifestyle of its devotees led to the phrase "in the swing" being translated as "part of the beautiful scene." So today some swingers infer that the term signifies the "beautiful people." Some sources further speculate that the first folks to use "swing" in this way were youth groups in Germany ("Swing Jungen") that practiced free love to American pop music much to Hitler's dismay. (Nothing bugs a despot more than people having fun.)

Theory Number Three: "swing freedom to do as one wishes or is naturally inclined: as, he gave us full swing in the matter." From this comes the idea that "swinging" refers to having the freedom to do what comes naturally.

SWITCHING  — (See Swapping.) To our knowledge, this is not used to indicate the application of switches.

TEXTILE — An adjective used mostly by nudists to describe a non-nudist.

THREESOME  — The simultaneous sexual interaction of three people: one male and two females, or one female and two males.

TICKET  — A non-swinging person (usually female) brought to a couples-only swinging activity solely to enable another person (male) to gain entrance. This practice is severely frowned upon.

TOP — (See Dom.)

TRIAD  — 1. A grouping of three people, one male and two females, or one female and two males. Usually implies a permanent or semipermanent "marriage," living arrangement, or committed relationship. 2. (see Threesome)

TRIBAL MARRIAGE  — A form of pseudo marriage in which all members of a social group theoretically have sexual access to all members (or a large specified subset) of the opposite sex. Tribal Marriage is independent of residence, for example, a motorcycle club.

UTOPIAN  — A subjective term designating more or less of an emphasis on, or a desire for, deep commitments, shared responsibilities, and long-term relationships in addition to, or in place of, playful sexual interactions. (See Recreational and Polyamory.)

VERSATILE  — A person who enjoys sexual relations with those of the same gender in addition to heterosexual relations. (Bi)

VERTICAL — (see Horizontal)

WANNA-BE  — Someone who seems attracted to the swinging lifestyle but does not participate, usually because they are too inhibited, or are single, or cannot convince their spouse to play along.

WATER SPORTS  — (see Golden Shower)

WAY-OUT  — Yet another useless buzz word meaning anyone who indulges in acts that the user doesn't care for. As in "We're not interested in anything way out."

WEALTHY  — (See Generous.)