Good words for private parts?
May 17, 2005 12:26 PM   Subscribe

It strikes me that English doesn't have any good words for genitalia. I attribute this to our repressed culture. Any words for our naughty parts are either porn words, schoolkid words, or clinical. Can anyone think of some good words for the privates? (Obviously there will be some raw language inside this question.)

Oh, a third category would be the overly euphemistic.

Here's what I mean...
Female genitalia:
Vagina (clinical)
Pussy (porno/schoolkid)
From here they are all downhill, like snatch.

Male genitalia:
Penis (clinical)
Cock (porno)
Dick (porno/schoolyard)
Johnson (euphemistic)

The other part:
Anus (clinical)
Butthole (schoolyard)
Asshole (porno)
etc

I'm looking for words that would sound right if you're sitting around with your loved one having a conversation about your genitals or anus. What do you all think?
posted by jojopizza to Society & Culture (73 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is a good question. I don't have an answer off the top of my head, but I hope that the following responses focus on supplying words that might answer the question, rather than criticizing the categorization of the words already supplied.
posted by Prospero at 12:34 PM on May 17, 2005


I think I don't really understand what you're asking. "Good" words? Words that sound "right"?

There are entire books of slang terms for naughty bits, if that's what you're looking for. What are you looking for?

Don't mean to come off as harsh, but I really don't know what you're trying to get at.
posted by Dr. Wu at 12:34 PM on May 17, 2005


. . . rosebud . .
posted by jeremias at 12:35 PM on May 17, 2005


I don't find the "clinical" words to be a problem. I mean, that's what they're called. Arms are called arms and legs are called legs and vaginas are called vaginas. Those are the words I use when I'm talking about those parts of my body.
In fact, I find most slang or "porno" terms to be unbearably silly. (Obviously, in the ... um ... right context, they can be appropriate.)
posted by librarina at 12:37 PM on May 17, 2005


Male bits: willy, tinkle.

Female bits: front bottom, chuff.
posted by veedubya at 12:38 PM on May 17, 2005


Don't mean to come off as harsh, but I really don't know what you're trying to get at.

It sounds like the poster is after words you can use that aren't clinical ("the proper medical term") and are safe for work.

The problem, of course, is because of America and England's ... strange ... relationship to sex, any non-clinical word for said genitalia is immediately made crass and "porny/schoolyardy".
posted by alan at 12:40 PM on May 17, 2005


Hoe about johnson?
posted by Evstar at 12:40 PM on May 17, 2005


er, that's a 'how'. Sorry.
posted by Evstar at 12:40 PM on May 17, 2005


I think the problem is the context in which the word is used is what gives it its "connotations", so you associate twat or kitty or cunt with porno or schoolkid because that's where you hear them... I know women who use twat & cunt just as neutral terms to talk about their naughty bits, but of course that only works if they're in company of other people who take them as neutral terms...

It seems less problematic to me with the other terms. dick & penis seem pretty neutral / casual to me, and for the last one I think people just say "up my butt" or something if they need to specify something, though I don't really see the problem with anus here, either, or rectum. "vagina" sounds kind of cold and also specifically doesn't include the labia & clit, so that I can appreciate as a linguistic deficit.
posted by mdn at 12:42 PM on May 17, 2005


What are you thinking of from what other language that leads you to believe there's a gap in English?

The problem is your classification.

"Penis" and "vagina" aren't clinical. They're perfectly normal words fully paid-up for use in conversation between non-physicians. They're no more clinical than "contract" is a legal word that normal people ought to feel weird using.

Ditto "anus." Perfectly good word, and no reason to use anything else in a normal conversation unless you're trying to be silly. Not clinical or dry or offputting, just normal.

If using words like "penis" or "anus" in conversation makes you uncomfortable, it's you with issues, not English. It's not you adopting a clinical word, it's clinical workers using the plain-old English word, just like they use words like "cup" or "chair" or "wombat repellent."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:42 PM on May 17, 2005


Can you counter with an example from another language that does have such terms? I'm thinking this isn't necessarily an English phenomenon.
posted by briank at 12:44 PM on May 17, 2005


Yes, that's what I was trying to say, ROU_Xenophobe.
Though mdn makes a point about labia etc. I can never keep it straight -- does "vulva" cover the whole deal?
posted by librarina at 12:45 PM on May 17, 2005


I see no issue with using penis, vagina, and anus in casual, non-sexual-context conversation with my loved one. Use them enough and they aren't clinical, they're just the "real" words and I honestly plan on using those words with my (potential) children. Nothing but confusion and embarrassment with the real words comes from terms like "choochiesnorcher," "winkie," and so on.

I mean, I guess you could come up with some mutually agreed upon euphemism, if the words embarrass you. In the company of friends it's usually "wang" and "bunghole" but that's because we're being purposefully childish.
posted by nelleish at 12:47 PM on May 17, 2005


We mostly use the schoolyard terms around here, though a lot of times we'll just do the whole-represents-parts thing and say "bottom" or "butt" when we mean anus. Similarly "crotch" for cunt/quim/vagina and "penis" is always fine when we're talking seriously/medically and dick/thing/the weiner works all the rest of the time. Contextually, if you're talking about a medical problem "clinical" terms work best. If you're trying to talk dirty, you might use other words, but if you're just shooting the shit and want to say "Oh hey I just found a new freckle on my wingwang" then pretty much any word will do as long as the meaning is implied by context.
posted by jessamyn at 12:48 PM on May 17, 2005


Perhaps the reason that schoolyard terms are the most apt are because they were adult terms before the kids learned them.

A newlywed couple who never had premarital sex were in the bridal suite. The husband stripped down and asked, "Do you know what this is?" The new bride said, "That's a wee-wee." "No," he says, "it's called a dick." She replies, "I've seen dicks before, but that's a wee-wee."

A pussy by any other name... ;-P
posted by mischief at 12:49 PM on May 17, 2005


Knobbly bits? "Bits" does seem to be coming up frequently here as people discuss the topic, and which bits you're referring to is probably pretty obvious from context.

But yeah, by definition, you have either the correct terms or slang. So I guess you have to find slang that you personally are comfortable with.
posted by trevyn at 12:49 PM on May 17, 2005


butchers window.
posted by fire&wings at 12:51 PM on May 17, 2005


My friend Dave coined the beautiful, apt and endearing "chubby" and "yumyum".
posted by Marquis at 12:52 PM on May 17, 2005


What's wrong with front-bottom?
posted by biffa at 12:53 PM on May 17, 2005


Yoni? Lingam? Cooter? Cooch? The center of my love and well being?
posted by yodelingisfun at 12:54 PM on May 17, 2005


Call any Australian phone sex line. You'll get as much naughty verbiage as you can afford.
posted by AlexReynolds at 12:55 PM on May 17, 2005


English really could do with more better words for clit/oris. It's still taboo, wasn't even mentioned at first here (thank you mdn). And not to be a cunt about it, but I don't want a word to "cover the whole deal" - individual attention please!
posted by rainbaby at 1:00 PM on May 17, 2005


Can you counter with an example from another language that does have such terms? I'm thinking this isn't necessarily an English phenomenon.
posted by briank at 12:44 PM PST on May 17 [mark as best answer]


I was actually hoping that people from less repressed cultures could tell us whether their languages have such a phenomenon.
posted by jojopizza at 1:07 PM on May 17, 2005


If using words like "penis" or "anus" in conversation makes you uncomfortable, it's you with issues, not English. It's not you adopting a clinical word, it's clinical workers using the plain-old English word, just like they use words like "cup" or "chair" or "wombat repellent."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe


Do you refer to your skin as your epidermis? Do you refer to a breast as a mammary gland?

Ahh, see, "breast" is a great example of the kind of word I'm looking for. It's not clinical, not porno, not schoolkid, etc. Words like that, for the pussy and cock, I guess we just don't have 'em, or they're turned into naughty words soon after they are coined. Those parts are just too naughty!
posted by jojopizza at 1:11 PM on May 17, 2005


Do you refer to your skin as your epidermis? Do you refer to a breast as a mammary gland?

Those examples are both incorrect. An epidermis is merely a part of your skin, and the mammary gland is merely a part of the breast. A clinician would talk about "skin" and "breasts."
posted by grouse at 1:14 PM on May 17, 2005


re: repression

The History of Sexuality: An Introduction by Michel Foucault I guess now called The Will To Knowledge, who knew?

In other words, I'm not sure that mythical culture exists in quite the way you think it does.
posted by OmieWise at 1:15 PM on May 17, 2005


My friend Dave coined the beautiful, apt and endearing "chubby" and "yumyum".

see, this is why this is such a personal thing :). Those terms sound pretty dumb to me, personally (plus 'chubby' is already a term for a hard-on, isn't it?). But other jokey schoolkiddish type terms have always been pretty comfortable with SO's for me (e.g., hoo hoo, downstairs). I think yumyum sounds too cutesy-sexy for me.

"vulva" is basically just the outdoor part. I kinda prefer the sound of vulva to vagina, though. Vulva sounds richer and fuller. Vagina sounds kind of, like - screechy-whiny, somehow... just in terms of onomatopeia.

but I don't want a word to "cover the whole deal" - individual attention please!

heh. fair enough. I guess it's just that vulva isn't used enough to enter conversation naturally - e.g., "do you shave your vulva?" - but it would be impossible to "shave your vagina" so you're stuck asking if you shave your twat, or your yumyum or whatever terms work in your circle. (Though I guess for that particular use, people will just talk about "bikini area" and extend into 'brazilian', 'landing strip' & other such specific terms...)
posted by mdn at 1:21 PM on May 17, 2005


penis-manhood
vagina-flower
anus-podex
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 1:22 PM on May 17, 2005


The problem with slang is that some will see the word as vulgar and other people will not.

So, what's wrong with genitals, penis, vagina, anus, clitoris, foreskin, scrotum, vulva, labia? There's nothing to be embarrassed about, are easy to use (they're not five or six syllable clinical mumbojumbo) and there's no mistaking what you're talking about whether you're talking to family, friends, doctors or kids (educated kids, anyway).

I'm sure you can figure out when and where the use of "naughty" words would be appropriate. ;-)

On preview: Vagina is used when talking in general terms about female genitals and it can be a problem when you're talking about more specific parts. But again, there's nothing wrong with using the correct words.
posted by deborah at 1:32 PM on May 17, 2005


Context has a lot to do with the interpretation of the words and that has as much to do with the listener(s) as the speaker. I'm likely to tell my daughter's pediatrician that she has bilateral rhinorrea, but I'd tell my mom that she has a runny nose and I'd tell my wife that she's a booger factory. So basically, the words are as good as you and your audience prefer. For polite company, the anatomical words are fine, for more intimate company, I think dick, cock, pussy, cooch work fine.
posted by plinth at 1:38 PM on May 17, 2005


Do you refer to your skin as your epidermis? Do you refer to a breast as a mammary gland?

but do you really think 'penis' and 'anus' are analogous to those terms? They're much shorter words, for starters... hmm, you know, I bet it's the latin root thing - dermis is the latin, while skin is the germanic.... Even if you used a shorter version, we might think 'skin' is more 'direct'. Same diff between breast and mammary.
posted by mdn at 1:41 PM on May 17, 2005


Pudenda

Although I'm interested to note that the word derives from the Latin for "to be ashamed".
posted by anastasiav at 1:43 PM on May 17, 2005


Secret garden of divine dampness.
posted by orthogonality at 1:46 PM on May 17, 2005


ObJoke:

Within Dick, Bush and Colin (ok, maybe this joke is slightly outdated) in power, our nation's destiny has been relegated to the lower chakras.
posted by randomstriker at 1:48 PM on May 17, 2005


Beef Curtains
posted by TheFeatheredMullet at 1:50 PM on May 17, 2005 [1 favorite]


Peter Greenaway gets a lot of mileage out of calling female genitalia "the sex".

Also, I think anuses are just a little too specific to come up with any frequency in conversation. "Butts", however, come up in many pleasant conversations. So do "balls" and "breasts" actually, now that I think about it. After that, I agree that the reason you don't see many "tamer" words is that they just don't come up in ordinary conversation.

But in intimate conversation a whole different tone is adopted for "cock" and "pussy". They become fairly natural in intimate conversation. At times when people just can't handle it they even make up names. I had a friend (not named Wanda) who used to tell me that "Wanda is a bit sore today" had a very different meaning for her and her boyfriend.
posted by ontic at 1:52 PM on May 17, 2005


'jiney always is appropriate.
posted by naxosaxur at 1:53 PM on May 17, 2005


I think "schlong" is a funny word
posted by matteo at 2:05 PM on May 17, 2005


Do you refer to your skin as your epidermis? Do you refer to a breast as a mammary gland?

Of course not, I refer to them as "skin" or "breasts." As grouse notes, so do physicians; we have breast cancer and skin cancer, not mammary gland cancer or epidermis cancer. Just because physicians use a word like "penis" does not make it clinical any more than "lump" or "eye" or "brain" are clinical terms because physicians use those.

If you started talking about labia minora instead of inner labia, or using adjectives like superior and inferior, you might be verging into clinical talk.

Ahh, see, "breast" is a great example of the kind of word I'm looking for. It's not clinical, not porno, not schoolkid, etc. Words like that, for the pussy and cock, I guess we just don't have 'em

Penis and vagina. Whether or not you want to admit that they're completely normal un-clinical plain good-old-fashioned English words, that's what they are.

If what's really bothering you that they're derived from Latin, as mdn notes, then hie thee to an old/middle-English dictionary to find some germanic-origin words for them.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:05 PM on May 17, 2005


From the Ally McBeal TV show (yes, I loved that show, first couple of seasons): "dumbstick".
posted by orthogonality at 2:05 PM on May 17, 2005


I think you and your SO should find your own language. I know that for me, certain words do not work on any level for me, apologies to Marquis but referring to your hard-on as a "chubby" will get you swiftly booted from the bed and quickly shown to the door.

I also hate the word choade.
posted by mrs.pants at 2:08 PM on May 17, 2005


ladies:
south mouth
sideways smile
sad vag(when bleeding)

gents:
rooster
failed tail
posted by mrs.pants at 2:12 PM on May 17, 2005


At georgecarlin.com, there's an immensely expanded version of the famous "10 dirty words." Hundreds of them refer to the, erm, naughty bits. Go here (this link is quite NSFW). It's brilliant.
posted by the_bone at 2:16 PM on May 17, 2005


I have a tendency to refer to the parts simply as "pants." (or "pants parts") As in "my pants itch." I have yet to be misunderstood.

Also : "the pants" is one of my preferred terms for libido. As in "I've got a bad case of the pants."

I like the term "pants" as it is gender neutral and just defines what is in your pants. Of course, there are times when one must be more specific, and I tend to go with "clinical" terms in those cases.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 2:39 PM on May 17, 2005 [1 favorite]


I get the feeling that it is more the referring and the meaning you are uncomfortable with than the specific words used.

There are an almost unimaginable number of words for genitalia. I'd suggest you and your SO find a list of "all" of them and go through it together. You'll laugh and perhaps you'll blush now and then, but I think you'll both find a word and get over your hang-up in usage.
posted by rudyfink at 2:47 PM on May 17, 2005


Woman flavors!

I guess you're not looking for "bathing suit area" or "tender place"
posted by palegirl at 2:58 PM on May 17, 2005


I'm sorry to post again, but I love the term "inside her underpants," too. My best friend & I seem to always be coming up with these phrases. Oh man, woman flavors...

I guess I'm not being mature, productive, or helpful... oh well.
posted by palegirl at 3:01 PM on May 17, 2005


What ROU_Xenophobe said. I don't really understand the question; I mean, you're an English speaker, you know what the English words for things are. I don't think anybody's going to come up with a word that you forgot about: "Oh yeah, of course crub is the normal conversational word for 'penis'!" You laid out the cards your language dealt you in your post; you just have to choose which you prefer to play. (And I think most languages have similar problems, for the same reason that almost all cultures, even those that otherwise go nude, cover up the genitalia. Russians have it even worse; there basically is no "normal" way to talk about making love.)
posted by languagehat at 3:04 PM on May 17, 2005


Can anyone think of some good words for the privates?

How about "the privates?"
posted by kindall at 3:09 PM on May 17, 2005


Fruit
posted by erebora at 3:37 PM on May 17, 2005


I think several of the usernames in this discussion could work ... how about "jojopizza"? Or maybe the_bone, or my orthogonality, or PinkStainlessTail...
posted by louigi at 3:58 PM on May 17, 2005


I actually think "pussy" is pretty good. It's not clinical like "vagina" or mean and ugly like the other well-kown word.

As for the male parts. "Dick" just sounds stupid, especially in a sexual context. "Cock," is better. "pecker" is great in casual non-sexual conversation, as is "johnson."

As for "asshole," it's the hole you shit out of, just how pretty of a word can it deserve (fun though they may be on occasion)?
posted by jonmc at 4:11 PM on May 17, 2005


From the Ally McBeal TV show (yes, I loved that show, first couple of seasons): "dumbstick"

And it's counterpart, (thanks Scrubs): "bajingo"
posted by 23skidoo at 4:19 PM on May 17, 2005


Get The Bald Headed Hermit and the Artichoke: An Erotic Thesaurus and you'll find that we have a lot of words for naughty bits
posted by stefanie at 4:40 PM on May 17, 2005


"Asshole" is pretty much the most plainly descriptive English word for that particular body part. The OED dates it to 1379 (well, they have ers hole). My erratic research also reveals that the earliest attributions of "prick" (1592, 'The pissing Boye lift up his pricke.') predates "cock" (1618) and "penis" (1693). "Cunt" however has been traced back the furthest to around 1230 in a London street name, Gropecuntlane. Use these words with the pride and authority of tradition.

Anyone know what the popular word for "wanger" was back in the 13th C?
posted by eatitlive at 4:46 PM on May 17, 2005


If by "loved one" you mean your parents or children, "genitals" is perfectly sufficient - they know what sex you are and what sort you've got. If you mean the man or woman who was sucking on them last night, I should think you'd be comfortable with any term you can think of - I like "wedding tackle" but it gives some birds the wrong idea. (Sorry, the original Alfie's on the telly just now.) (I mean, it's on the TV right now.)
posted by nicwolff at 4:49 PM on May 17, 2005


I saw a movie (Waltz Across Texas, I believe) where at a critical point on a date, the hero asked the heroine "Are we gonna bump uglies now?" She understood perfectly what he meant. And yes, they did.
posted by GoatCactus at 4:50 PM on May 17, 2005


A friend of mine calls the male materials the "dangling participles".
posted by matildaben at 4:51 PM on May 17, 2005


You could always come up with pet names for the parts with your lover.

For the vagina, Hen is a nice word, or the old tried and true box or kitty.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 4:53 PM on May 17, 2005


The Union and the Confederacy. (Get it? North, South, and when your stomach's upset or you have cramps but still wish you could play, it's the War Between the States?)

*crickets*

Really, like everyone's saying, this is about context. What kind of conversation are you having? Routine, whispered, shouted, moaned? Because I've got no problem with running the gamut from MedLine or James and Nora Joyce as the conversation calls for it. I once thought calling it his or her sex was an all-purpose answer, until I realized if you speak it aloud, you sound like a really frilly member of the Society for Creative Anachronism. Why not just call it what the conversation, moment, and person beside you inspires you to do?

(And hey anastasiav, pudenda's permanently ruined as an option for me, thanks to a family habit of colloquializing it to "pootie." Yeesh. The shame stuff is just the nail in the coffin.)
posted by melissa may at 4:54 PM on May 17, 2005


I have a tendency to refer to the parts simply as "pants."

One prob with that might be that in the UK, "pants" means "rubbish" or "crap", as in "that movie was pants"...
posted by mdn at 5:11 PM on May 17, 2005


anus/ass/bum/arse/fudge tunnel

vagina/fanny/minge/tuppence/lady-hole

penis/cock/dick/john-thomas/man-pipe

apologies to everyone for my filthy mouth.
posted by iamcrispy at 5:26 PM on May 17, 2005




...and another friend of mine and I like to quote the Saturday Night Live fake commercial for Woomba: "It cleans my business. My lady business."
posted by matildaben at 6:51 PM on May 17, 2005


We mostly call it the potentially gender-neutral "my junk" thanks to some line from a commercial for The Man Show about how to not get hired:

"Do you have a color copier? 'Cause black and white isn't real flattering to my junk."
posted by jessamyn at 7:16 PM on May 17, 2005


In Icelandic there exist words, 'píka' (pronounced PEE-ka) for vagina and 'tippi' (TIP-hih) that are fairly neutral, like the word breast in English.

Conversely there's no good neutral word for having sex.
posted by Kattullus at 9:07 PM on May 17, 2005


This thread is bollocks.
posted by neckro23 at 11:12 PM on May 17, 2005


I am not a native speaker, but I believe the Arabic words kus and zib are used in all situations: clinical, schoolyard and conversation.
posted by teleskiving at 12:19 AM on May 18, 2005


F: Underlips
Neuter: Underbits
M: Dangly Bits
posted by blasdelf at 1:52 AM on May 18, 2005


Punani for sweet, wonderful vagina.

(though I imagine it's spelled wrong; picked it up from a German/Japanese woman from Hawaii I dated. Ahhh, how I miss her)
posted by tr33hggr at 7:15 AM on May 18, 2005


My dad's words were "witch" and "wizard" for female and male parts, respectively.
posted by the_W at 8:47 AM on May 18, 2005


"Bump Uglies"
Ha! I use that all the time.

/tmi
posted by deborah at 8:18 PM on May 18, 2005


A West Indian nurse attending the birth of Ayun Halliday's first child used bukiluki.
posted by brujita at 10:09 PM on May 18, 2005


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