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Before beginning my A to Z of BDSM, I feel it essential to explain in everyday terms what BDSM really is. There are various descriptions of what the letters B-D-S-M actually stand for but the universally accepted belief is that B stands for Bondage, D stands for Discipline, S stands for Sadism and M stands for Masochism. Having said that, an often used variation on the above theme is to use Bondage and Discipline, or B/D, Dominance and Submission, D/s, and Sadism and Masochism, S/M. Whichever variation is used, it is safe to assume that all involve an exchange of power. You will have noted that in the above description I used the following to abbreviate Dominance and Submission, D/s. This is not a grammar error but indicates that in a Dominance and Submission scene, one has the power, hence the capital "D", and one is the submissive without any power, hence the lower case "s". When describing anything to do with Domination and Submission, you will always see D/s.

There are many different types of relationship in the world of BDSM, but for the purpose of this basic guide I will just mention the three most common ones. These are Dominant/submissive, which is the most likely one you will encounter if you are looking to dip your toes into the world of BDSM, in which two individuals will enjoy scenes where one has the power over the other, but usually restricted to the premises of the Dominant rather than out in regular everyday life. Next comes the Master or Mistress/slave relationship which is a much deeper and harsher version of the D/s relationship. The slave, or submissive, will find themselves being punished far more than in the previous scene and subjected to strict rules and guidelines relating to their behaviour, dress, who they can talk to etc. Lastly, we come to S & M, or Sadomasochism. This is certainly not for beginners as it involves two people, one who enjoys inflicting pain of varying degrees including intense sexual pain, and the other who enjoys receiving sexual pain.

There are other relationships but I will discuss these in blogs in future weeks as they can be quite confusing for the newbie, or newcomer, to BDSM. So, is BDSM a normal way of life? To the millions worldwide who practise BDSM in one form or another, Yes. To the millions of others who live a regular lifestyle, obviously No. There is no simple answer to this question, but I would just ask you to consider these factors which are relevant. What exactly is Normal? How do we define Normality? It is a fact that more people in the world would consider BDSM to be abnormal than they would normal. But, surprise, surprise, how many of these people who would frown upon BDSM are actually enjoying it themselves without knowing it? 

The widely held view is that BDSM involves groups of depraved people meeting up whipping each other and chaining each other up. Not so! Many people unknowingly enjoy elements of BDSM in their everyday sexual lives. Think of couples sharing grapes or cherries while laying in bed. Or just putting a blindfold on their partner to increase levels of intensity. Or coming in from a night out and dripping an ice cube over their partners' skin. Or even taking their partner's high heels off and kissing their feet. All of this is BDSM!

Below is just a brief revision of the main terms of BDSM plus Punishment, before we begin our A to Z.


This term is used to describe restraining various parts of a submissive or slave's body, usually by means of leather, silk or plastic restraint, handcuffs and ropes.


This is a means of ensuring instructions are carried out when given to a submissive by a Dominant.


This is when a submissive has deliberately disobeyed a direct instruction, the consequence of which is to be punished to ensure the submissive understands that further episodes of disobedience will result in further punishment.


This is when a Dominant experiences pleasure from inflicting pain and /or humiliation on a submissive.


This is the experiencing of a combination of both sexual and emotional pleasure as a result of being physically abused by a Dominant.  



AGE PLAY  Pretending to be younger than you really are for gratification purpose/pleasure

ANAL PLAY  Stimulation of the anus by teasing or insertion of implements. This can cause intense orgasm for males

BLINDFOLDS  Leather, silk or cloth to remove sense of vision. Increases reactions to otherwise normal sensations

BALL STRETCHING  Involves using a penis restraint coupled with weights to produce pain/discomfort while stretching testicles

BOOT WORSHIP  Forced humiliation practice of kissing, cleaning, licking boots, shoes or bare feet of Dominant by submissive

BONDAGE  Described above

BOTTOM  A person who gets sexual satisfaction from conceding control, serving and being used by a Dominant

BUTT PLUG  A plastic device used for inserting anally in a submissive. Can produce erotic pleasure 

CANING  Most painful of all whipping tools. Can produce welts on skin and blood. Only for use on buttocks. Only for experienced subs

CHASTITY BELT/CAGE  Used to prevent any form of genital stimulation or orgasm. Usually lockable. Made of metal

COCK AND BALL TORTURE (CBT) Male genital restraint. Form of Orgasm control. Used for both punishment and play

CAGES  Used to confine a submissive/slave for both punishment and play. Made of metal or wood. Can have strapping bench on top

COLLAR  Worn around the neck to indicate submissiveness. Usually made of leather or metal

CUFFS  Leather or metal device used to restrict movement of limbs such as wrists, ankles 

DUNGEON  A room with BDSM equipment. Can contain basic implements and furniture or fully equipped. Can be private or domestic room

DILDO  Used for stimulation or penetration. Can be hand-held or as part of a strap on harness to enable females to wear 

FACE SLAPPING  Moderate amount of slapping used for humiliation and control of a submissive by the Dominant

FETISH  Obsession of one particular object or experience

FLOGGER  A whip used on buttocks or back, and in a gentler fashion on the genitals. Usually with many strands or tails 

FOOT WORSHIP  As per boot worship above

GAGS  Used to restrict the use of the mouth and ability to speak. Made from cloth, plastic, leather, ball gag. Should be breathable

GOLDEN SHOWER  Involving urinating on a submissive or, in rare cases, receiving the same from the submissive

HOT CANDLE WAX  Used on breasts, back, buttocks this can create intense erotic sensations

HOOD  Full covering of the head, in many variations. Some with eyes or mouth holes. Made from leather, cloth, PVC

HUMILIATION  Forcing a submissive to do things they wouldn't normally ie engaging in public sex, wearing skimpy clothing

MUNCH  A gathering of BDSM devotees meeting at a venue not connected with BDSM, ie a bar or club

NEWBIE  A newcomer to BDSM

NIPPLE TORTURE  Using small adjustable clamps on nipples to cause pain and pleasure. Clothes pegs can also be used 

ORGASM CONTROL  Being forced to hold their body's desire to orgasm. Used primarily as punishment or as part of tie and tease

PADDLE  Leather implement used to administer punishment or light smacking play. 

ROLE PLAY  Where the Dominant will dress up for a play scene. Popular themes are Nurse, Secretary, Teacher, Police Officer

ST ANDREWS CROSS  Made in an X design, usually self supporting with restraints/cuffs. Used for punishment and pleasure 

SLAVE  Complete submission to a Dominant. Gives up control of outside life including all belongings. Can only live as ordered by Dominant

SPANKING  A submissive is punished by being beaten on the buttocks by either a bare hand or an implement such as a paddle

SWITCH  Someone who can be both a Dominant and Submissive to separate partners

SAFEWORD  Prearranged word agreed between Domme and submissive to end all activity immediately for whatever reason

SCENE  A period of BDSM activity (A Scene) and permanent lifestyle of BDSM involvement (The Scene)

SPREADER BAR  A device used to spread arms or legs apart of a submissive. Solid, usually made of metal with a cuff on both ends

STOCKS  Based on medieval stocks used for punishment, this form of bondage furniture secures a submissive for the Dominant to use

SUSPENSION  Form of bondage where the entire body is suspended above the ground. Used for play and punishment. Not for novices

TIE AND TEASE  In which a submissive is restrained and the Dominant uses toys, implements and her body to tease and stimulate him/her

TOP  Another name for a Dominant, the one in control. Opposite to Bottom described earlier

VANILLA  Someone or something with no interest or involvement in BDSM

WANNABEE  Someone who pretends to be knowledgeable about BDSM but in reality isn't

WHIP  A length of material, usually leather, used to strike a submissive's back or buttocks as a punishment


Though by no means complete, this list with brief descriptions will hopefully give the potential newcomer a small insight into what he/she is reading about BDSM and be able to understand a little about what people re talking about when they are discussing whether someone is vanilla etc.


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