bdsm roles

Glossary – BDSM Roles

BDSM has its own language, so let’s start with the variety of BDSM roles. It’s a language that you should learn if you want to meet others and get out into the community. The trick is that the words really only have a general definition, but the specifics can change from person to person.

Learning the Language – Glossary of BDSM Roles

This glossary is meant to give you an idea of what each of the BDSM roles are. This is only a starting point, you will still need to define what these roles mean to you before getting involved with another person.

My favourite example is the BDSM role slave. For many, a slave is a person who gives up authority in a total power exchange relationship. Some people, however, find that slave is a hot thing to call their partner during role play. It’s quite the difference and can lead to real problems if those people get together without an in-depth conversation!

So sit back and enjoy my Glossary of BDSM Roles. Watch the video below or on Youtube. This list is by no means exhaustive and is just meant to get you started! I will keep updating this article as I’m able so that it covers as many different roles as possible!

BDSM Roles

Main Roles

  • Dominant The person who has authority in a power exchange relationship.
  • Master / Mistress The person who has the authority in a power exchange relationship, often a total power exchange.
    • A person who owns a slave.
    • Also: a hot name to call your partner during role play or other play activity.
  • Top The person administering the sensation in a play scene. The person holding the flogger, for example.
  • Submissive The person who gives up authority in a power exchange relationship.
  • Slave / Property The person who gives up authority in a power exchange relationship, often a total power exchange relationship.
    • A person owned by a Master or Mistress.
    • Also: a hot name to call your partner during role play or other play activities.
  • Bottom The person receiving sensation during a play scene. The person getting flogged, for example.
  • Switch A person who enjoys multiple, often opposing, roles. A person who is both dominant and submissive, top and bottom or a person who is a dominant bottom or submissive top may also call themselves a switch.
  • Masochist A person who gets pleasure, often sexual, from receiving pain.
  • Sadist A person who gets pleasure, often sexual, from giving pain.
  • Boy  A male identified submissive or someone in the leather community who serves or attends to a dominant.
    • Boi Sometimes used by masculine leaning women. Sometimes used in the USA due to the negative connotations associated with “boy”.

Age Play & Nurturing Dynamics

  • Little An adult person who takes on the characteristics of a child or regresses to a more childlike state during BDSM play or at other times.
  • Middle An adult person who takes on the characteristics of an older child or teen or regresses to that state during BDSM play or at other times.
  • Big An adult person who acts in a caregiving role to a little or middle, a person who interacts with age players without taking on a childlike role.
  • Daddy/Mommy A person who takes on a nurturing role to a little or middle and acts as a surrogate parent in some ways.
  • Baby Boy / Girl A person who posesses childlike traits or who enjoys role playing a child like role; similar to little or adult baby.
  • Daddy Dom / Little Girl A relationship dynamic that is more nurturing but doesn’t involve direct age play (usually).

Often Misunderstood Roles

  • Alpha Sub The head submissive in a multi-submissive household, like a majordomo.
    • Also: A misguided term used to describe how not submissive a submissive is in ‘regular’ life. See my Ask article
  • Fetish Delivery System or Life Support for a Whip A snarky way to describe the way some submissives treat some dominants. Non-consensual objectification.
  • FinDomme / Financial Dominant A person whose primary kink is money. Not to be confused with a Pro-Domme (pay for play). See my Findom article
  • Pay Pig / Human ATM A person who enjoys the bottom/submissive side of a specific type of financial domination, usually involving humiliation.
  • Trainer A person who offers training in BDSM. Not often used, since the term has been co-opted by people using the myth of universal BDSM training (usually to submissives) as a way to get money or sex.
  • Old Guard Refers to higher protocol BDSM communities, often in a mythical way. Many seem to think that the BDSM of the past is superior to BDSM communities now, stories of the ‘Old Guard’ are meant to deride the younger generations of kinksters. In reality, there isn’t a real Old Guard, just a romanticized version of many very different communities.
  • Mentor A trusted person who offers advice on various BDSM topics, who is not sexually involved with the mentee. Most feel that the mentor should be the same role, sometimes the same gender as the mentee. Like trainer, this role has been abused by those looking to gain sexual favors through deception.

Groups of Kinksters

  • Harem / Stable A group of submissives in service to a single dominant. Male dominants tend to use the term harem, female dominants tend to use the term stable. 
  • House A group of kinksters, who may or may not live together, who are bound by relationships, ritual, and common goals.
  • Polyamorous Having multiple, consensual, romantic relationships.
  • Metamour The lover of your lover.
  • Polycule A group of poly people, connected by their relationships with each other.
  • Triad A three-way relationship.

Sex Oriented Roles

  • Swinger / Wife Swapping Having multiple, consensual, sexual relationships. Often pursued as a couple with other couples.
  • Cuckold / Cuckqean A person who enjoys the idea of their spouse/partner “cheating” on them, often involves humiliation.
  • Bull The other man in a cuckold relationship

People You Don’t Want to Meet

  • Topping from the Bottom A bottom who uses manipulation and other dishonest means to control the top/dominant in a play or power exchange scenario.
  • Twue An intentional misspelling used to mock people who believe that their way is the only real BDSM.
  • Troll Similar to the regular troll, this one joins BDSM sites because they believe that kinky people are sluts and they can get easy sex. Often claims elaborate titles, lots of experience and training in “European Houses”; quickly shows they have no actual experience in BDSM.
  • European Houses of Kink A popular myth in North America. People claim to have been trained in mythical dungeons and houses of kink in Europe (often since they were minors/children) as a way to sound more skilled or important to those who don’t know better.
  • Uber-Dom(me) A dominant with an over the top dominant attitude – a bully. Often tries to ‘dominate’ everyone in the room, demands titles and honorifics, touches without permission, etc.
  • Uber-Slave A slave with an over the top submissive attitude. Tries to submit to everyone in the room, tries to outdo other subs, the slaviest slave that ever slaved.

Pet Play & Primals

  • Animal Play / Pet Play Taking on the characteristics or persona of an animal during play.
  • Pet a person who takes on the role of a cherished pet during play or in a relationship.
    • Also: a spoiled submissive
  • Pony A person who enjoys dressing up and taking on the mannerisms of a horse or pony.
  • Puppy A person who enjoys dressing up as and taking on the manerisms of a puppy or dog.
  • Kitten A person who enjoys dressing up as and taking on the manerisms of a kitten or cat.
  • Furry A person who takes on the characteristics or persona of an animal, more of an identity. Often dresses in an elaborate costume or fur-suit.
  • Pack A group of animal players, furries or primals, connected by their relationships, rituals, and common goals. Similar to a House.
  • Primal (Predator & Prey) A person who likes to behave in an animalistic way but does not take on the persona of a specific animal. For example, may have wolf-like characteristics, but does not try to be a wolf. Can be a predator, prey or both/neither.

Other

  • Cross Dresser / Xdresser A person who enjoys dressing in clothing traditionally reserved for people of the opposite gender. Should not be confused with transgender people.
  • Dungeon Monitor A person designated to enforce the rules of a play party, to facilitate play and sometimes to look after safety. Many have first-aid certification.
  • Deviant A person who does not conform to social norms.
  • Fetishist A person who enjoys a specific sexual fetish or multiple fetishes.
  • Kinkster A person who is into kink.
  • Toy A person who enjoys being treated as an object for another’s pleasure, a sex toy, for example.
  • Lady / Lord An honorific that some dominants prefer.
  • Newbie A person new to kink and BDSM.
  • Hedonist A person who follows the philosophy of hedonism, the pursuit of pleasure for its own sake.
  • Voyeur A person who enjoys watching others have sex.
  • Pain Slut A masochist who likes unusual amounts of pain. Often a compliment.
  • Pervert A term of endearment for a kinky person.
  • Vanilla A person not into kink or BDSM.

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