Here are some terms that you may hear in relation to BDSM and not immediately know the meaning:

BDSM: Catchall expression for a variety of activities, including B&D (Bondage & Domination or Bondage & Discipline), D/S (Domination & Submission), and S/M (Sadomasochism). In general, BDSM is used to refer to the consensual exchange of power and control and/or pain between two or more people.

Top/Dom/Dominant/Master: Person(s) actively controlling or directing a BDSM scene.

bottom/sub/submissive/slave: Person(s) giving up control or power in a BDSM scene.

Switch: Person who identifies with both Top/Dominant and bottom/submissive roles. This does not necessarily mean that a person will switch within a scene or even with a specific partner.

Old/new guard: “Old guard” refers to a style and approach attributed to the gay men’s leather and SM community in the 1970s. It’s generally used to refer to a style of BDSM viewed as incorporating great formality, strict top/bottom roles and hierarchy, and an emphasis on leather. “New guard” usually refers to anything not considered to be “old guard.”

Play: BDSM activities. While some people use the term “play” frequently, other individuals object to the use of the term because they feel it does not convey the importance or seriousness of their BDSM activities.

Scene: A play session or BDSM encounter, generally for a specified time period.

Safeword: Word agreed upon by everyone in a scene that can be used by anyone in the scene to interrupt or completely stop a scene.

Aftercare: Emotional and/or physical care needed, desired, and/or received by a Top or bottom after a scene has ended.

Edge play: BDSM activities that are viewed as riskier, more dangerous, or more unusual than other activities. “Edge play” is in the eye of the beholder.

Toys/gear: Any item or equipment used in a BDSM activity, from a whip to a dildo.

CBT: Cock and Ball Torture.

SSC/RACK: Important tenets of BDSM. “Safe, Sane and Consensual” and “Risk Aware Consensual Kink.”

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