Most body parts have names, and that’s sorta where it ends. I call my elbow an elbow and don’t think any more of it. However, when it comes to parts imbued with a certain sexuality — especially our genitals — the game is completely changed. Buzzfeed ran a quiz on how many words readers knew to describe male and female genitalia, respectively, and got 80 penis synonyms and 70 vagina synonyms. The folks over at the National Coalition for Men came up with a casual list of 174 synonyms for their junk.
Looking at these lists, most of our euphemisms for our genitals work way better for giggles or poetry than in common parlance. (Regardless of how funny you think “wizard sleeve” is as a term, you may not want it used on you in the bedroom.) In fact, we can be quite picky about the words spoken to us during our moments of greatest ecstasy and vulnerability (translation: sex).
Since this is such a personal and varied question, we asked 17 Bustle readers of varying ages and backgrounds to share their favorite terms for their vaginas, as well as those words that will kill the moment and may get lovers kicked out of their beds. This is what they had to say.
"There's not a lot to choose from, which honestly pisses me off. During sex I like 'pussy' and 'clit,' and as an overarching term I dig 'netherbits" because it’s funny. From a political standpoint I enjoy 'cunt,' but not so much in the bedroom (mono-syllabic words can sound pretty aggressive to me, although I love 'cock' — no one said you had to be consistent!).
From a poetic standpoint I love 'vertical smile,' but that's weird to just pop into dirty talk. I hate 'hole' because it sounds like an absence, and I am so very present down there."
"I say 'pussy' almost exclusively, unless I have an infection or other sad thing going on down there, in which case I use 'vagina' to talk about my issue. With doctors and other medical professionals I use the word vagina.
Growing up, my family said 'vulva' and it still has some sweet connotation to me, though I never use it any more. There were years when I was a teenager and young adult when there was not a single word I liked, so I avoided talking about my genitals at all, even with intimate partners. Then I got some good sex positive education and now I feel no shame in using 'pussy' 'vagina' or 'cunt' to talk about what I got."
"I love using the word pussy for my vagina, but then I really love cats so pussy has a sweet, loving connotation to it for me. I'm OK with cunt too."
"Pussy. Cunt. Vagina. I use them interchangeably. Pussy and cunt because they are both fun to say, and feel like taking back a term appropriated by those without pussies and cunts. Vagina when the conversation needs to feel more formal. Often, in the bedroom, I just use 'me.'"
"Pussy, cunt, Down South, vagina, uterus, vag, tight hole. I also like referring to it as a dick sometimes, like 'suck my clit dick'. I agree there should be more words to describe the delicious orchid of sex."
"I find 'Cooch' to be hilarious and sweet and endearing, so when I talk about my bits with beloved friends I tend to default there. I also like 'Vag' as a general term, regardless of context. I have no problem with the terms 'Pussy' or 'Cunt,' and in fact find it very very hot when my partner says them, but I have way too much repressed former-Catholic guilt to actually say those aloud.
NEVER: slit, hole, twat (far too masculine and aggressive sounding for my personal aesthetic)."
"Cunt & pussy (particularly in dirty talk), twat, snatch, netherbits (I am not the only one!), slit... (I also love naughty words for slut etc. as well). My personal feeling on it all is that they are empowering words. I love them, I have chosen to take control of them. To me, once you take control over language (that is about you) then you demystify it as well as the power of others to use it as tools of power."
"This question made me realize that I don't really call my lady parts anything. I love when I get to use the word 'vulva,' because then I include the beloved clitoris and I'm being anatomically correct, but vulva isn't sexy, so that's saved for conversations when we talk about lady bits, but not my lady bits.
During sex I just refer to specific parts, like 'touch my clit' or 'rub my G-spot' or 'let's f*ck,' which doesn't include any anatomy, but tends to get the point across. I named my boyfriend's penis and I'm a little sad it hasn't been reciprocated, so thanks for the conversation-starter, Bustle!"
'I grew up in a home where we used all the correct terms for body parts and other things. So for me, it was always my vagina ... [but] I am now beginning a long distance friends-with-benefits situation that so far has been taking place by text.
This is my first sexting experience — and I jumped in enthusiastically. I am pretty sure this is the first time I have said pussy about my own vagina. I started by following his lead, and have taken off running. I even wrote my first piece of erotica. I have mixed feelings about the word honestly, as in a sexy context I think it sounds hot, but on its own, I actually don't like the sound of the word. I fell like cunt is strong, but I can't get past the negative connotations I grew up with connecting with the word. I've almost written it a few times and stopped. I find myself using vajay/vajayjay in conversation sometimes."
"There really aren't many words for female genitalia that I like. I use vulva when I'm trying to be really PC, when I'm talking casually, with friends or lovers or just in general I use 'pussy' or 'yoni'. I don't like 'vag' or 'hole' or any of the words that sound like baby talk. I love my pussy!"
"I'm not wild about having a vagina, and I've struggled to find terms that help me feel respectful of my genitalia and not just bothered. I like 'tuna' as a term of endearment for my vulva, as in the common name in Spanish for cactus fruit, because tunas are so strange and surprising and cute and sweet. I guess most people think of a fish when they hear the word tuna, but I like that aspect of the term too ... I guess it reminds me that handling judgements and preconceptions (about my body and bodies in general) can include silliness and sometimes only requires a change of perspective."
"I'm not too happy with any of the names. I mostly use 'pussy' and think of it like a kitty cat. I smile when I hear the ridiculous names like 'hoo-hoo' and 'vajayjay'. When I'm being crass I use 'twat,' which has classless connotations for me. I'm not a fan of 'slit' or 'gash' or any other wound terminology."
"I loooove the word pussy! If I'm not speaking sexually, I usually go with 'lady bits'... as in, 'That bike saddle hurts my lady bits.' I think I just like that because of irony ... I'm not a very ladylike person!"
"I have a big vocabulary, and I love to flaunt it! But there is a serious DEARTH (see what I did there?) of alternative names for vaginas. Vagina is too clinical for sex, and pussy can me feel uncomfortable out of a sexy-time context (but also empowered when I do choose to use it in everyday parlance — I think there's something that still feels "light taboo" about the term).
I think the word CUNT is fabulous, but is often times too aggressive for gentile company ... Words like clam, muffin, muff really rub me the wrong way — lady bits, vag, and nature's pocket are probably my favorites along with the traditional, pussy/cunt milieu. Don't you dare call it a hoo-ha though."
"I suppose I'm a code switcher. When talking to other women in my life I often throw out the casual 'vag,' yet while speaking to my lover I frequently like to use pussy (although it may be too crass for him, it makes me feel like a badass). When talking to myself in my own mind I like lady parts, cus that's what they are!"
"Conversationally I'm partial to 'vag,' which honors the non-scariness of the official name while letting me claim my comfort with my own via abbreviation (including just 'V'). I also have a penchant for quoting Becky Barnett from Boogie Nights with 'I gotta go wash my vagina' at every opportunity.
I hate 'pussy' in most instances, barring an occasional pass during sex. 'Cunt' or 'cunny' work for me in sexy environs but 'twat' and 'box' are always no-gos. In playful, non-sexualized contexts I've used 'wootzie,' which I learned once from a toddler who had a shame-free, matter-of-fact take on anatomical realities."
"I definitely feel there's a lack of good language choices for women. During sex I like 'pussy' a lot. Overall, in non-sexual contexts I call it a 'vag'. I don't love 'cunt' but am trying to reclaim it from its derogatory connotations. But mostly pussy. Meow ;)"
I like 'cunt' and 'clit' in the bedroom — powerful and concise! Outside of the bedroom, I like 'lady bits' for humorous contexts, and 'vagina' for everything else. Side note: When I was younger, I used to be squeamish about saying 'vagina' out loud. I'm so glad I grew out of that phase!"
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