Dirty talk tips – swearwords and euphemisms from history

Want to level-up your dirty talk with some fascinating phrases and ingenious euphemisms? Perhaps you need a few dirty-talk tips from history…

Naturally as a writer I am fascinated by language, and swearing is my favourite genre. There’s something delightfully personal about swearwords – they’re usually the first thing someone blurts out when they’ve stubbed their toe, or when they’re moaning in the throes of passion. It’s intimate, too: you’re less likely to swear in front of a total stranger than you are in front of a friend, and chances are only the people you’ve slept with know which words you use to describe sexy body parts when you’re wriggling beneath the covers.

Swearwords are also a wonderful way to appreciate different accents and dialects. As a southerner with an accent I can only describe as ‘boring’, I get a thrill of glee when hearing someone saying ‘Bastard’ with a hard ‘a’ – it sounds much more passionate. In fact, if given the choice, I would always like to be dirty-talked at in an accent that’s different to mine: there’s a novelty of hearing different swearwords in a different voice. This YouTube video of Sharpe swearing over and over again is bookmarked in my browser, for whenever I was an expletive-laden pick-me-up.

And swearing isn’t just a fun way to express yourself when you’re frustrated, it’s also a wonderful way to get your partner in the mood. Whether you’re telling them a filthy story while you use their favourite sex toy on them, or using sweary language to humiliate them while you’re in the middle of a BDSM scene. Swearing is the best.

Historical dirty talk

Recently I was browsing the word of the day bank over at the website Whores of Yore. Whores of Yore is run by the fabulous Kate Lister – a historian who focuses on the history of sexuality. She publishes some amazing erotic pictures from the past as well as stigma-smashing articles aimed at using our knowledge of the past to inform our discussion in the present.

She also has a giant bank of historical swearwords and dirty talk.

So given my passion for all things sweary, I thought I’d share with you a few of my favourites, and issue you with a challenge: pick one from my top choices below, and see if you can slip it in to a sexy chat with someone over the weekend…


This means ‘vulva’, and I adore it because it reminds me a little of the ‘down below’ or ‘nethers’ euphemisms that Victoria Wood was so fond of.

“Grumble and grunt”

This one’s Cockney rhyming slang. Pretty sure I don’t need to tell you what it rhymes with…

“Diving for pearls”

I love this because it’s so evocative and pretty. Can you guess what it means? It refers to cunnilingus – presumably the ‘pearl’ you’re after is the clitoris. Happy diving! If you’d like another euphemisn for cunnilingus, how about “gobbling the gravy” (from the 1930s) or “talking to the canoe captain” (1970s).


My favourite swears all have deliciously plosive sounds: slut, prick, cock, dick. Those hard noises make them incredibly satisfying both to say and to hear. So ‘lick-spigot’, crammed with plosive sounds that make you feel like you’re smacking your lips, was bound to be a favourite here too. It means ‘someone who performs fellatio.’ It’s the 17th-century version of ‘cocksucker’. Beautiful.

“Ladies’ Lollipop”

I am only including this one – a euphemism for the penis – because I feel I’ve left the penis out so far. It’s probably fair to say this word is only suitable if you’re trying to turn someone off rather than on. I can’t imagine anyone uttering it without giving a leery wink.


I love this one because I guessed immediately what it was – can you guess? It means someone who is into BDSM – spanking, whipping, and all that delightful stuff.


This means spunk. And, although it sounds like an utterly bizarre way to describe it, remember than in the 21st century our euphemisms for spunk are equally weird, if not more so. ‘Baby batter’, anyone? Eww.

“Dog paddle”

From the 1940s, this lovely (and wholly adorable) phrase referred to anal sex. Which is fairly easy to see, when you consider we still have the word ‘doggy’ to describe a position often used for it. I don’t know if there’s a link, but I like to think that dogs are flattered by how frequently we use them in our dirty talk and swearing. See also: rabbits.

“James Blunt”

This is a modern one, which I slipped in just because I really wanted to use a picture of him to illustrate this article. Not only is James himself delightfully sweary, he has also been immortalised in Cockney rhyming slang. No prizes for guessing what his name represents…

Fancy trying out some of these? If you’ve got a passion for rude words like I have, then there’s a wonderful word to describe you too:

Muckspout: someone who swears a lot.

Guilty as charged.

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