So, you’re looking to get kinky? Well, before you break out the handcuffs and blindfolds, you’ll need one more important thing – a safe word. Choosing a good safe word can sometimes be half the fun, but if you need some inspiration, check out our list of safe word ideas.
What is a safe word?
A safe word is a verbal or non-verbal indicator used to revoke consent and /or signal that a sexual activity needs to stop immediately. A safe word can be a word, like “pineapple”, or a gesture, like blinking, that both partners agree upon prior to engaging in sex. A safe word is usually used when a sexual activity pushes boundaries and verges on or becomes too much to handle.
Why do you need a safe word?
Safe words are needed to maintain consent during sexual experiences that may be approaching personal boundaries. The philosophy behind establishing safe words comes from the BDSM and kink community, where some sexual activities are more intense or blur the lines of what constitutes traditional expressions of consent, including words like “Stop” and “No.”
For example, if you and a partner are engaged in consensual non-consent (CNC) role play, which involves forced domination where both parties ‘act’ as if consent has been waived, then saying “Stop” and “No” may be part of the role play. A safe word allows your partner to clearly separate the role play communication from reality and know when a boundary has been pushed too far.
Safe words are also vital in establishing physical limitations or thresholds. Some BDSM activities might include physical pain that the submissive finds pleasurable, but it may be difficult for the partner to determine when the pain is no longer pleasurable. A clear safe word helps both parties communicate when a limit has been reached and allows the couple to quickly stop any activity that might threaten the physical or mental well-being of the submissive.
How to choose a good safe word
If you’re going to engage in some boundary-pushing kinky sex, it’s highly advisable that you determine a safe word beforehand. Here are some do’s and don’ts for choosing effective, good safe words:
✔️ Do choose a non-sexual word. This way there is little chance of miscommunication.
✔️ Do choose a safe word that’s easy to pronounce and hard to mistake. Good safe words should be easy to articulate and immediately recognizable by your partner. Words that are longer and more distinct are usually good safe word candidates. Any word with multiple syllables with hard vowels is effective, for example, the word cucumber.
✔️ Do choose a word that’s memorable. If a safe word ever comes up, make sure it’s one both you and your partner know well and will remember, even in the heat of an intense moment.
✔️ Do choose a word that’s an immediate turn-off. For example, you might choose a safe word that is the name of a grandparent or sibling to immediately take you and your partner out of the scene.
❌ Don’t use a traditional non-consent word. Choose a word other than “Stop” or “No” because such words might be part of play, especially in a BDSM scene. “Stop” and “No” are words that might also be misunderstood as role-playing.
❌ Don’t use words that might come up organically during sex. For example, avoid relying on safe words like “love” or “touch” as those words can hold meaning other than a hard stop in the context of sex and intimacy.
❌ Don’t use words that sound similar to, or might be mistaken for another word. I.e, mistaking a safe word like chutney for your partner saying touch me.
15 safe word ideas
So, you need a safe word and need one in a hurry? We’ve compiled a list of 15 safe word ideas aligned with best practices of what makes a good safe word.
Non-verbal safety gestures can be safe word alternatives
While safe words are a great way to minimize risk during kinky sex or intense sexual activities, there are some instances when safe words are not always effective - for example when gagged.
Along with a safe word, play partners should determine a safety signal - an unmistakable gesture that has the same purpose as a safe word: to stop immediately or revoke consent. For example, a safety signal might be used when one partner is tied down and gagged to signal to the dominating partner to end the session.
Here is a short list of suggested safety signals:
- Blinking eyes in an SOS pattern – three fast blinks followed by three slow blinks and then three fast blinks again
- Three blinks of any speed
- Clicking fingers
- Clapping feet together
Try the traffic light system
An alternative safety system to safe words and safety signals is the traffic light system - a more flexible version of the safe word system. The traffic light system allows both parties to quickly communicate their consent and comfort by attributing each color of a traffic light - green, yellow, and red - to a particular feeling. While the details may vary slightly between partners and situations, the general consensus is:
- Green = all activity is being enjoyed
- Yellow = slow down or pause a specific activity or sensation
- Red = stop immediately
The traffic light system allows the submissive partner to have a greater range of communication beyond the binary of a standard safe word. However, either partner can utilize the traffic light system.
For instance, when engaging in intense sexual activity, the dominating partner can check the other’s consent by asking the question, “light?” to which the other would reply with either green, yellow, or red.
Understanding the importance of safety when exploring extreme practices like kink and BDSM is a key part of engaging in these activities in a consensual and communicative way. So, if you have your safe word and are ready for a spanking good time, then it’s time to explore these kinky sex ideas.