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The Definitive Glossary of Swinger Terminology

Updated: Oct 21, 2023

Navigating the world of swinging involves more than just an open mind and a sense of adventure; it also requires a specific vocabulary to ensure you're communicating clearly with like-minded individuals. Whether you're a seasoned couple or a newcomer to the swinging scene, understanding the language is crucial to fully enjoying your experiences and avoiding any misunderstandings or uncomfortable situations.


The lifestyle has its own unique set of terms, jargon, and acronyms that can seem like a foreign language at first. These terms cover a wide range of activities, preferences, and etiquettes that you'll encounter, from defining types of swingers ("unicorns," "hotwives," etc.) to specific activities ("soft swap," "full swap") and designated areas within adults-only events or resorts ("play areas," for example).


This definitive glossary of swinger terminology aims to demystify the lingo, offering clear and concise definitions to help you converse comfortably and confidently as you venture into this exhilarating lifestyle. Armed with this knowledge, you'll be better equipped to explore, negotiate, and revel in your swinging experiences.


BDSM

An acronym that stands for Bondage, Discipline, Dominance, Submission, Sadism, and Masochism. It's a broad range of sexual practices involving power dynamics, role-playing, and various types of restraint or sensory stimulation.


BAREBACK

Slang for sexual intercourse without using a condom.


BISEXUAL

A person who is sexually attracted to or sexually active with partners of both sexes, male and female.


BI-CURIOUS

A male or female who is interested in trying same-sex activities.


BULL

In the context of a "cuckold" relationship, a bull is the man who engages in sexual activities with a "hotwife," while her husband watches or is aware. The bull is often more sexually dominant and may play into the humiliation or submissiveness of the husband.


CLOSED DOOR/CLOSED SWINGING

This involves swapping partners but engaging in sexual activities in separate spaces or rooms. It provides a level of privacy and can be a good option for couples who are new to swinging or prefer not to witness their partner with someone else.


CLOSED-GROUP SWINGING

Closed-group swinging is a form of swinging that involves participants having multiple sexual partners who are all within a specific group of people. A common example of closed-group swinging is when couples who are friends regularly switch partners but don’t typically swing with others.


COMPERSION

A term often used within polyamorous and swinging communities, compersion describes the joy one feels when one partner experiences pleasure or happiness with another person. It's essentially the opposite of jealousy.


CONSENT

An explicit agreement by all parties involved to engage in a particular sexual activity. For swinging and BDSM communities, consent is paramount and usually involves ongoing communication to ensure everyone is comfortable


CUCKOLD

This refers to a man who takes pleasure in watching his wife or partner engage in sexual activity with another man. The emotional elements often play a significant role, including aspects of humiliation, submission, or the enjoyment of the wife's pleasure (sometimes referred to as 'compersion').


DOMINANT

A sexual partner in control of a willing submissive partner.


ETHICAL NON-MONOGAMY/CONSENSUAL NON-MONOGAMY

A broad umbrella term for someone who has any type of sexual or romantic relationship with more than one person without keeping it a secret from any of them. The degree to which they are forthright about the details with each of their partners (in terms of the identity, gender, sexual activity, or length of relationship) is not of concern – just the general understanding that each partner consents to a relationship with someone who is not being exclusive in every way to them.


DTF

The acronym stands for “Down to F**k! Some couples just put it out there to convey that this is what they want to do, plain and simple. Don’t waste their time with idle chit-chat because they want to get the party started. Now!


EXHIBITIONISM

The desire to be watched by others while engaging in sexual activities. Exhibitionists derive pleasure from being observed, and this is often accommodated in the swinging and BDSM communities where consent is a key factor.


FETISH

Sexual arousal and pleasure through the use of non-sexual objects, actions, or non-genital anatomy.


FMF

The acronym – along with FFM – describes the gender composition of threesomes. FMF stands for Female-Male-Female while FFM is Female-Female-Male. The difference is slight and many people use them interchangeably. The order of the letters usually indicates the interaction focus, and whether the females are bi-sexual. e.g., in FMF, the male is typically the center of attention.


FOURSOME

A foursome – when not in relation to a group of four golfers – refers to group sex between four people of any combination of sex or gender. All four may be single, or the situation may involve two couples that identify as swingers.


FULL SWAP

A full swap involves swapping partners for sexual intercourse. It's the most comprehensive form of partner-swapping in the swinging lifestyle and usually requires a high level of trust and established boundaries between all parties involved.


GANG BANG

A gang bang is a situation in which several people engage in physical sexual activity with one specific individual sequentially or at the same time. A common scenario is a group of men having sex with one woman.

GROUP SEX

Sexual activity between three or more people, in recent times, it’s replaced the somewhat antiquated term, orgy.


HALL PASS

A hall pass is permission from one's primary partner to engage in sexual activities with someone else outside of the couple’s shared experiences. It’s a temporary agreement and can be a one-time thing or occur multiple times, depending on the couple’s arrangement.


HOTWIFE

In the swinging lifestyle, a hotwife is a married woman who has the freedom and encouragement from her husband to have sexual relations with other men. The husband may or may not be present during these encounters and may derive pleasure from the experience as a form of voyeurism or "cuckolding."


HOUSE PARTY

In swinging terminology, a house party refers to a non-commercial gathering at someone's home where multiple people engage in swinging activities. It's usually more intimate and less structured than a swingers' club event.


HUNG

Refers to a man with a large penis.


HWP

Height-Weight Proportionate; Someone who is at their ideal body weight.


KEY PARTY

A couples party where all of the men put their car keys into a bowl or bag and at the end of the party, the women blindly select a set of keys to determine who she goes home with. Popular in 1970s, the "key party" became a phenomenon among swinging couples. Interest piqued again when it was made a part of the 1997 movie, The Ice Storm with Kevin Klein and Sigourney Weaver.


KINK

In human sexuality, kinkiness (or kinky), is a colloquial term used to describe unconventional sexual concepts or practices. The term derives from the idea of a “bend” (a “kink”) in one’s sexual behavior, to contrast such behavior with “straight” or “vanilla” sexual conventions and proclivities. The term “kink” has been claimed by some who practice sexual fetishism as a term or synonym for their practices.


LIFESTYLE

Often used interchangeably with “swinging,” the lifestyle refers to a way of living that incorporates non-monogamous sexual activities as a social activity or regular practice. It includes various forms of partner swapping, threesomes, and communal sexual activities.


LS

An abbreviation that stands for 'Lifestyle'.


MÉNAGE À TROIS

This term is sometimes interchangeably used for a threesome, which refers to a sexual experience involving three people. The phrase derives from the French meaning "household of three".


MFM

The acronym – along with MMF – describes the gender composition of threesomes. MFM stands for Male-Female-Male while MMF is Male-Male-Female. The difference is slight and many people use them interchangeably. The order of the letters usually indicates the interaction focus, and whether the males will engage in bi-sexual play. e.g. in MFM, the female is typically the center of attention.


MONOGAMISH

A word meaning “something like monogamy”. Monogamish stands for couples in intimate relationships in that both partners have admitted they cannot live by the rules of strict monogamy but have so far not joined any other type of relationship. In some cases, these couples are transiting from monogamy to alternative relationships.


MORESOME

More than three people in a sexual interaction.


NEWBIE/NEWBIES

Newcomers to the swinging lifestyle. They may be in the exploratory phase, often starting with soft swaps or other less intense activities as they learn their preferences and boundaries.


NEW RELATIONSHIP ENERGY (NRE)

New relationship energy (or NRE) refers to a state of mind experienced at the beginning of sexual and romantic relationships, typically involving heightened emotional and sexual feelings and excitement.


NSA

The acronym stands for no strings attached. An implicit agreement that the relationship or encounter is purely for sexual activity and there’s no expectation of commitment.


OPEN MARRIAGE

A marriage in which a couple agrees not to confine their relations to the two of them only. The primary couple is made of two while some “minor” love affairs and sex are also admitted. The rest of the rules are very much individual in view of partners' desires: some want to meet the partner’s lovers and beloved, others don’t.


OPEN SWINGING

In contrast to closed swinging, open swinging allows couples to swap partners and engage in sexual activities in the same space or room. This can heighten the experience for some but also requires a strong level of communication and trust between all parties involved.


ORGY

Classically considered to be group sex with several partners in somewhat of a party-like scenario. With its origin in the Greek and Roman sex parties that would last for days, where people only paused to eat and sleep, it hints at something a bit out of control, wild, and over the top.


PARTNER SWAPPING

A term used to to mean "swinging." See also 'Wife Swapping'.


PLAY

The word is used to describe doing anything sexual in the Lifestyle and with Swinging, be it soft or hard! It’s reflective of how those in the swinging lifestyle don’t take sex with others that seriously. It’s just fun to play.


PLAY AREA/PLAYROOM

A room set aside for group sex, generally furnished with wall-to-wall mattresses or pads.


SAME ROOM

Refers to situations where a couple engages in sexual activities while in the same room as another couple. The couples may simply be watching each other or engaging in a full swap or soft swap but remain in the same space throughout.


SEPARATE PLAY

A couple that prefers to not be around each other when they play. It can be at the same event, where they will each go into separate rooms with their swinging friends. Or it can be that they schedule separate playtimes altogether.


SESSION

Another word for 'play' (i.e. sexual activity) with another couple.


S&M

Sadomasochism is the giving and receiving of pleasure from acts involving the receipt or infliction of pain or humiliation. People who engage in sadomasochism may seek sexual pleasure from their acts. While the terms sadist and masochist refer respectively to one who enjoys giving and receiving pain, some practitioners of sadomasochism may switch between activity and passivity.


SOFT SWAP/SOFT SWINGERS

This refers to engaging in sexual activities with someone other than your primary partner but typically stops short of intercourse. Soft swaps can include things like kissing, touching, and oral sex. It's often considered a more moderate form of swinging, especially for newcomers.


STD

The acronym stands for Sexually Transmitted Disease. A term developed in the late 1970s to replace VD as the latter carried social and moral implications in the minds of many. These social and moral implications interfered with the legitimate treatment of sexually transmitted diseases as a medical problem.


STR or STR8/STRAIGHT

Any person who is not interested in engaging in bi-sexual or homosexual activity.


SUBMISSIVE

Someone who is passive sexually and wishes to be dominated.


SWINGERS/SWINGING

Swingers are couples who engage in sexual relationships with other people, whether it be other individuals or other couples, purely for sexual exploration and variety. Swinging also falls under the umbrella of ethical or consensual non-monogamy.


THREESOME

A threesome refers to group sex between three people of any combination of sex or gender. All three may be single, or the situation may involve a couple inviting another man or woman into their bedroom.


UNICORN

In swinging terminology, a unicorn is a single, usually bisexual, female who is interested in meeting and possibly joining a couple. Unicorns are relatively rare in the swinging community, which is why they're referred to as mythical creatures.


UPSIDE DOWN PINEAPPLE

The upside-down pineapple is a not-so-secret symbol used as a way for swingers to identify each other. Pineapples are known as a symbol of warm welcomes, celebration, and hospitality which swingers have adopted to let other like-minded people know that they are welcome and want to connect. So if you see someone wearing an upside-down pineapple badge or pin, it means that they're likely in the lifestyle. But approach with caution as it could be someone who is just really into the fruit.


VANILLA

This term is used to describe individuals or activities that are considered traditional or conventional in terms of sexual behavior. In the swinging community, vanilla refers to those who are not involved in the lifestyle.


VOYEURISM

The practice or interest in observing others engaged in sexual activities, often without their knowledge or consent. Within the swinging community, this usually occurs with the consent and awareness of all parties involved.


WIFE SWAPPING

The act of two or more couples swapping wives for sexual gratification for some period of time, usually a night or weekend. Sometimes it is done in the same place and other times the couples go back to either the woman's or the man's residence to be more private. The term 'wife swapping' is often used instead of 'swinging'.


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