Genitalia. Coitus. Osculation.

You’d be hard-pressed to open a romance novel without finding these three things – but odds are, you won’t find these words. (By the way, osculation is the scientific word for kissing. I didn’t know either.) Writers and readers of romance know there are endless euphemisms for the private bits, the sexy times, and everything leading up to them.

If you’re writing, you might find yourself struggling with talking about his or her… err… you-know-what. But fear not – I’ve got you covered. Some of these are cringe-inducing, and some blush-provoking, but I have not discriminated in collecting an assortment here. Even if you’re not writing, I’m sure you’ll find some of these amusing. (And if you’re looking for more words, try Part 2 and Part 3!)

For research, I turned to my bookshelf, grabbing a 2010 Kieran Kramer Regency romance, a 2004 Julia Quinn Regency, a 2004 Mercedes Lackey Fantasy (which happens to be my all-time favorite book and is literally falling apart), and a 1989 Laurie Grant that I haven’t actually read. Oh, and I also took a look at my own contemporary erotic romance novella.

(FAIR WARNING: We’re talking R-rated vocab here. Flee now if that scares you.)

Update: I’ve ordered them in terms of naughtiness now. Maybe that will help ease you in a little.

Lady Bits

  • the heart of her femininity
  • her center
  • her core
  • between her legs
  • junction of her thighs
  • groin
  • flower
  • her essence
  • her entrance
  • her sex
  • yoni
  • womb
  • mound
  • box
  • mons
  • sheath
  • crease
  • slit
  • crevice
  • pool of moisture
  • honeypot
  • folds
  • inner lips
  • nub
  • bud
  • orifice
  • mouth of her arousal
  • canal
  • pink pearl
  • vulva
  • labia
  • clitoris
  • vagina
  • clit
  • pussy
  • c*nt

Man Parts

  • groin
  • manhood
  • his sex
  • arousal
  • package
  • bulge
  • his length
  • erection
  • staff
  • member
  • rod
  • shaft
  • appendage
  • stalk
  • organ
  • lingam
  • balls
  • phallus
  • sack
  • testicles
  • penis
  • scrotum
  • dick
  • cock

Well, apparently we writers are a creative bunch. Did I miss any? Let me know in the comments if you have a particular favorite that I didn’t catch!

Looking for actions not body parts? Check out Part 2 of the Sexy Thesaurus!

Bonus: While researching this post, I read the grossest paragraph I have ever discovered on Wikipedia: “The similarity in the methods between kiss-feeding and deep human kisses (e.g. French kiss) are quite pronounced; in the former, the tongue is used to push food from the mouth of the mother to the child with the child receiving both the mother’s food and tongue in sucking movements, and the latter is the same but forgoes the premasticated food. In fact, through observations across various species and cultures, it can be confirmed that the act of kissing and premastication has most likely evolved from the similar relationship-based feeding behaviours.” Ew.

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51 thoughts on “The Sexy Thesaurus: A List of Words to Use in Your Romance Novel

    1. Thanks for sharing, Nancy! I can’t believe I missed sheath! Regarding velvet, it is a particularly favorite ‘sexy adjective’ of mine. I’m actually intending a follow-up thesaurus post that will go into adjectives, so you’ll see that there eventually! 🙂

    1. I have to say, it isn’t one of my favorites. My biggest complaint is how non-specific it is – when I was a teen getting my whole understanding of sex from books, I’d be like “…um, core? So like, inside her? Poking her? WHICH PART OF HER IS BEING TOUCHED?”

      1. Not to mention that mostly when I hear”core” they are speaking of the muscles in the midsection!

    2. I agree on that one for “Core” the one I personally hate the most is the use of “Sex” for example “i plunged my member into her sex” to me using the word “sex” to decribe sexual organs sound like it was written by a 13 year old

  1. I’m really glad I found your blog and this post.. I struggle to think of different words that fit the situation when I’m writing my erotic stories. you are a real life saver

  2. Thanks for the list, here’s something you may or may not want to use for Balls / Sack. “Boys” My partner simply refers to them as her Boys. One more thing. As you have stated there are some body parts that the correct name isn’t all that attractive such as a females ass hole. Not sure if I saw anything in your list that covered that if so I apologies but thought I would throw this one into the mix. Star fish….running the tip of a moist fingertip around her star fish sounds a little better than ass hole. That is unless someone just enjoys a sharper tone.

  3. How would you describe a woman’s wetness? I’m having a hard time coming up with different ways to describe my character’s arousal.

    1. Great question! I tend to go with simpler options, ex. “slick folds,” damp, moisture, etc. With that said I’ve seen much more flowery options like “dew,” “honey,” “nectar,” and “essence” among others.

  4. Thank you so much for this list! I have been struggling to find the right words to use. I don’t want it to sound dirty but still described enough for readers to understand what I’m intending.

  5. This is the second post I’ve seen where reading through the comments exposes some weird contradictions. We want romance, we want sex, but we don’t want it explicitly described or “dirty”. Instead we want..flowery euphemisms? Food analogies? I’m continually surprised how much people want good sex graphically written but are afraid to actually call things by their common name.

  6. thank you so much for this! was getting to wit’s end because my brain is just not in the right place… can i just say…please remove mound in the hopes that people stop using it *grins* always takes me straight out of the moment…makes me think of mole hills…but yah, have been advised to be more synonymish and less… pornographic and specific so this list is a life saver! *save to bookmarks*

  7. This is terrifically useful. I write some mild sex scenes in my novels and sometimes it’s a bit difficult to not use the same one or two words. “Center” is a good one to add to my usual mix of “her sex” or “her folds.” Thanks!

  8. Excellent and very useful list. What about synonyms for breasts? I usually find myself alternating between “breasts” and “tits,” because every other non-slang term sounds too clinical, and every other slang term sounds silly (I can’t imagine anyone over there age of 15 unironically using the word “boobs,” for example).

    Even “tits” sounds a bit silly, but it’s the least-silly slang term I can come up with, and mixing it up a bit reads better than just using “breasts” over and over.

  9. Thanks for this, very helpful! The words you use when writing a love scene can be the difference between a sensual steamy exchange between to lovers and a raunchy penthouse submission, lol.

  10. Concerning the bit at the end… Have you ever taken a look at some books on Philematology (The art or study of kissing)? Yes, theres a word for it. Theres lots of interesting articles around… Have fun!

  11. “Quim” for me is a great word, referring specifically to the skin leading from the opening of the vagina to the clitoris. As in ” He slowly and thoroughly explored her pink, moist quim with his tongue”.

  12. Hello, I like your post very much and find it very useful. May I translate it into Chinese to let more people know about English sexy words? I will attach original link and claim it’s your work. Thank you very much.

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