The Beginner’s Guide to Sexual Euphemism

Double Entendre, n. ~ A word or phrase open to two interpretations, one of which is usually risqué and indecent. Humor using such words or phrases. (Source: Oxford English Dictionary)

Breaking down sexual euphemisms is yet another way to introduce the topic of sex and sexuality to your children in a way that may be more comfortable for you. It can be used as a good starting point for those who are not as comfortable talking about the physical aspects of sex.

Marcia and Cindy and I had a conversation this weekend about words that have two meanings. Some of these words also have a sexual meaning but they didn’t always. These are the words that are the “bad words that they know they would not be allowed to say. It all started with the word bitch. We talked about how that word wasn’t always a bad word to call another woman but that originally it meant the term for a female dog. This launched into a conversation about all the different words that have now adapted a second, more sexual connotation. Besides the word bitch here is a list of the words we discussed:

  • ass
  • dick
  • pussy
  • balls
  • nuts
  • gay
  • beaver

**It’s important to note, even these words have multiple interpretations. For example, when we discussed “dick” and “pussy”, I used the interpretation of calling someone that as a derogatory term. I did not describe it as a body part…yet. We will talk about that later.

Do you recall how old you were when you started hearing these words? Do you remember who told you? Do you remember when the change happened? It was fun for me to try to remember the first time I heard them. Most often for me it was from kids in the later grades of elementary school or in junior high. I think one exception was the movie “The Naked Gun. That was the first time I heard the word “beaver used that way.

So I asked the girls if they have heard any of these yet. Marcia confirmed that there are kids on the playground at school who talk like this often. She thinks they are the 4th and 5th graders. So there goes my effort to protect them and their virgin ears. Just kidding¦ they’ve heard much worse from me.

Later in the day, I mentioned this conversation to a friend of mine and we came up with a second short list of words that exist now. Neither of us remembered these words being “bad words when we were young but they have a double meaning now. Here’s that list:

  • hooters
  • cocks
  • pole
  • wood
  • tuna
  • prick
  • jugs
  • cougar
  • balloons
  • cans
  • douche

Obviously, both of these lists are just a primer. There are tons more examples but these seem to be the first few that kids come across in elementary school. If you want a more comprehensive list, you can consult any entry from the urban dictionary.

One important thing to note here, as I mentioned above, chances are your children have already heard these words. It could have been in a movie, or in a TV show, or something they simply heard another adult say at some point out in public. Besides talking about the words in a non-reactionary or matter of fact way, explaining a word to a child seems to take away the mystery and power that word had. It also opens up their little worlds to the nuances of messages by the media and advertising. I hope, given the new understanding of vocabulary and double meanings, I have given my children the skills they can use to look at potential inside jokes or subtle sexual innuendo in advertising, media, etc with a more critical eye and begin to make their own conclusions about these as well.

The MamaSutra

Mother of two girls. Holds a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) and a Certificate in Women's Studies from UW-Madison. Graduate of IASHS as Master of Human Sexuality. The articles you read here have goals in two main areas. 1) I strive to normalize conversations about sex and sexuality between parents and their children. To me this means helping parents accept and nurture their daughters' budding sexuality so they grow and learn to respect their bodies and accept their whole selves as they grow into strong, beautiful, powerful and healthy women. 2) Female Sexual Empowerment. Women deserve to learn about and explore the pleasure that can be felt through a full sexual life - however each of us may define that - without guilt, shame, or embarrassment.

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