Euphemisms.. good or cringe worthy?

Taste in general is very subjective and reading tastes even more so. It’s impossible to please all readers but the goal – I assume – is to please most readers. In this m/m genre, there is a lot of explicit erotica. It makes up a huge portion of the genre, although not the entire genre. Yet as all those dicks rub against each other and enter various orifices in increasingly kinky and outrageous ways…the language used to describe such is always extremely important.

Whether you call it an ass, a rosebud, channel, anus, chute, hole, crack, cleft, bunghole (really? *shudder*), butthole, rectum, arse, pooper, starfish, dock, back door or anything else your wild imagination comes with each reader will have a preference.

This extends to ALL details of the sex scene. From the cocks to the ass to the cum, if the words aren’t right the readers will cringe. Some may cringe anyway and others find it hotter than ever. Once again, taste is so subjective.

Since the colorful purple prose invention, language has become much more direct and graphic when speaking about sex. Books no longer have to hide their bushels under artful and rather obvious euphemisms and the throbbing rod of steaming man love is no longer the status de jour.

Yet the erotica industry just comes up with new and more inventive ways of explaining and describing sex. Definitely far, far more creativity than visual porn, which sticks to the basics.  So in this new era of brazen sex scenes, some terms are still laughable and some are just flat out hot hot hot.

So which is which for you?

I personally like the obvious ones. A dick’s a dick – not a pole, a rod, a bat. A hard-on’s ok but if I ever see “purple-headed yogurt slinger” again I’m going on a witch hunt.

I don’t mind any term for the asshole but stay away from the obvious references: rectum, chute, channel. And anything that says “shit-eating” during a sex scene. Doesn’t matter if it’s a grin or a literal interpretation of salad-tossing, it doesn’t belong please!

These are just a few of my personal choices and that doesn’t mean it suits everyone. Some readers can’t stand the term dick (I assume those don’t read m/m) but I definitely don’t speak for everyone.

So what do YOU like dear readers? Which terms turn you on and which make you throw the book?

Do you like your cum or do you prefer watery essence of love’s true devotion?
What about the pretty rosebud just waiting to be eaten?

25 thoughts on “Euphemisms.. good or cringe worthy?

  1. Jules says:

    Ha! I’m one of those people who don’t like the word “dick.” I see it, and I think of someone who is just an utter…well, I can’t think of any descriptive words that wouldn’t also make an appearance in an m/m sex scene. (I don’t like “asshole” either, for the same reason. It’s just a pejorative in my mind.)

    HOWEVER. The last novel I wrote, the characters definitely referred to their penises (penii?) as “dicks,” and I frowned every time they did it. But it was true to the characters, so it got to stay. Conundrum upon enigmas!

    I don’t like anything that refers to the anal opening as a waste disposal mechanism, even if it is, and I appreciate authors who go to the trouble of mentioning cleanliness, because otherwise I really can’t help cringing a little. Possibly OCD, me.

    (The same goes for referring to the urethra as a “pee hole” or anything like that. Seriously. Can we just leave scat out of it?)

    • Kassa says:

      You don’t like dick!? I remember someone else commented once she hated the word dick. I felt bad because that’s got to the be the #1 term so if you dislike it, must cringe a lot.

      I do agree that I appreciate a nod to cleanliness though that’s more female specific. I’ve noticed male readers don’t really care (and some even laugh when I say “ew”). But I prefer to pretend everything’s been sterilized before hand and it has no other function than to be magically clean before and after. Like toys.

      • Jules says:

        Hee! I never said my tastes made sense! And I won’t put down a book over it. The only time I think I use the word dick in my own life is if I’m saying “Suck my dick.” Somehow it just sounds childish and insulting to me. (Does it sound like that because I use it that way, or do I use it that way because it sounds like that? Aaaahhhh!)

        And yeah, I notice a lot of male-written fetish fiction actually likes a bit of non-cleanliness, but one of these days, I’m going to write a character who can’t have sex without wearing rubber gloves because they can’t stand the thought of getting their hands dirty.

  2. I agree, during sex, lets pretend that the bits aren’t used for other purposes the other 23.5 hours a day.

    I prefer more direct language. Don’t get flowery and there are only so many ways to say penis and hole. Just stick with it. I also think that sometimes words can be left out and you still get the same effect. “He pushed his penis into his asshole” can be “He pushed into him”. I’m pretty sure they didn’t mean his nose into his ear canal. I know what they were doing and what you were referring to. So I don’t need every single descriptor for me to understand and visualize what is happening.

    • Kassa says:

      Oh good point. I don’t think books need to spell out exactly what is going where – we get it. Kind of the same with licking, sucking, etc. One of the best comments I’d read was from a submissions form that said something about “this isn’t an anatomy lesson, no one wants to read about glans” which I thought was very true and apt.

    • I’m with Tam on this! If I start to think about poo, I’m outta there. Not sexy for me. At. All.

      Also, quite concerned about the “purple headed yoghurt slinger”. Ew. (At least it was a satire! I still don’t want to read it though).

      I’m not a big fan of the word “cum”. I prefer “come”. That’s just me though. The first seems “dirty/porny” to me and the other seems “cleaner” (sorry, I’m not explaining this well I don’t think) or at least more grammatically correct (I know that’s probably not right but I see it and I think it’s been mis-spelled. I get that this is my little OCD corner here though!) 😛

      Also, I agree with Chris about the straightforward and the simple – flowery and purple prose are usually just snortworthy and cringe-inducing. Simple words have more power I think. (Good grief, can you imagine what would happen if Stephanie Laurens started writing m/m? *runs screaming*)

      • HAHA if that happened m/m may implode.

        I don’t mind cum or come since it’s the same word and I prefer that to more flowery words like essence or something. I’m not terribly OCD so I don’t *think* I’m particular but of course everyone is to their own degree.

        I do think even in satire there are limits!

  3. eva says:

    I’m still laughing but I have to ask, “purple-headed yogurt slinger”? Where the heck did you come across that one?

    • Kassa says:

      yea that one is a winner isn’t it? That got me thinking and I forget which book it was but I do think it was a satire.

  4. but if I ever see “purple-headed yogurt slinger” again

    AGAIN? Where the hell did you see it in the first place?! O.o

    I’m a fan of simple, direct terminology – purple prose tends to give me the giggles or have me rolling my eyes.

    • Kassa says:

      I know! What kind of “crap” am I reading I ask myself.

      I do think in general people tend to prefer direct versus purple prose but my point is that even within m/m and the so-called graphic, explicit language the euphemisms continue. It’s not exactly purple prose but sometimes trying to avoid the purple definitions you end up with some really cringe worthy ones. It’s hard to be creative when you can’t describe the dick like a bat sliding into home. 😀

  5. Euphemisms have their place, but for contemporary romance stories I prefer the plain, direct slang in sex scenes. I also don’t like to hear anything that sounds too medical: dick, cock and prick are fine, penis is not. Calling it a “sex” is just weird, IMO.

    That said, I adore awful euphemisms when they’re meant to funny, and I do enjoy reading some of the downright dirty erotica written by gay men. If it fits with the overall tone, it works for me!

    Can’t understand why so many female readers (and authors) are squicked by the spelling “cum”, but think “come” is fine. It baffles me. It’s just an alternative spelling! I just call it spunk instead, most of the time. Or “man mayonnaise” if I’m writing satire…

    • I tend to ignore it when I read “he slid his sex” it’s kind of like “globes” for balls. I do tend to like historical verbiage and “bollocks” is rather wonderful.

      I think awful euphemisms have their place and sometimes I can totally enjoy it. Male authors more so than others, not sure why. Perhaps it’s because that kind of bald, straight forward language I associate with them?

      I don’t have a problem with cum for come but if you call it man mayonnaise I’m going to devote an entire post to why that’s wrong.

    • Tam says:

      I’ve “heart” that it’s cum for the liquid and come for the act. True? Who the hell knows. LOL

      I just read something where the guys balls were the size of lemons. Do you have ANY idea how big a lemon is? He wouldn’t be able to walk. Or maybe we just have overly large lemons in Canada. Maybe a small lime would be better.

      • Yeah, I’ve always thought it was cum for the noun and come for the verb, although I’m currently reading something where cum is used as a verb, so who knows?!
        To my mind, “cumming” looks wrong, though.

        We have smaller lemons over here, perhaps. I can just about see that – although I’m not sure I’d want to associate something so very sour with a nice pair of bollocks 😉

        • Jules says:

          I know the publisher I edit for uses cum=noun and come=verb as their house style. Also, Cumming = Alan. 😉

          And about the lemons… here I was just thinking “Why ruin perfectly good fruit with that association?” *grins*

          And then I can’t help but think of Betty White: “If I had it to do over again, I’d lez it up 24/7. Balls. Terrible little things. Wouldn’t miss them.”

          I love Betty White.

  6. I recently re-read Pamela Clare’s I-Team series and one of the things I noticed was that she used “penis” and “vagina” etc but I thought in her sex scenes they were actually quite sexy. Go figure.

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