Writing sex scenes: 25 other words for “penis”

So. Let’s talk about dicks. If you’re a steamy romance writer, you probably won’t get around mentioning them every now and then (unless you’re writing f/f romance, of course!) The problem: nobody likes the word “penis”. It’s so clinical and – in my opinion – terribly unsexy. So what else are you supposed to call his, er, member?

Every writer solves this issue in his own way, it seems. Some wallow around in purple prose just to avoid naming the dreaded genitalia. Some make their sex scenes so vague and abstract that there’s no need to mention any specific body parts, let alone those. Others just shrug off the awkwardness and litter their stories with dicks and cocks.

But what if you’re somewhere in the middle on that spectrum? If you want to make clear what body part is going where, but you don’t like to venture into full-out “porn vocabulary”? In that case, you’re probably going to need some other words for “penis” to write your steamy scenes.

For your (and my own) convenience, I have compiled a list of penis synonyms for sex scenes. To keep it fun, I also included a list of the most ridiculous penis names I’ve encountered over my years as a romance reader (is there anyone who actually gets aroused at reading the words “engored fleshy sword”?)

(This blog is part of a series of word lists: I’m here to help with other words for “vagina” as well.)

Some advice about penis synonyms

Before we get to the grand list of penis synonyms itself, a few words you may want to keep in mind when you’re composing your sex scenes. These considerations have always been helpful for me when picking another word for “penis”.

  • Keep your character in mind. In The Princess & The Spy, I have two very different main characters, namely – who’d guess? – a princess and a spy. He spent his adolescent years in criminal and military circles, and visited the occasional prostitute along the way. Is he going to think about his “manhood”? Probably not – so I did give him the occasional “dick”. She, on the other hand, is a well-educated, polite young woman who grew up between the nobles of the court. Is she going to use words like “dick” or “fuck”? Definitely not, so from her POV I used softer penis synonyms.
  • Beware of adjectives. The more adjectives you’re piling on top of your word for “penis”, the sooner you’re writing purple prose. For example, I don’t mind the word “arousal”. But write about his “fiery swollen arousal”, and yeah, I’ll be snorting. That’s not to say you can never describe his dick, of course, but the more flowery your adjectives are, the more common your noun should be. And vice versa.
  • Use penis words economically. Very often, you don’t even need to explicate that you’re talking about a dick. If you say “He entered her”, I promise all of your readers will know what’s going on. There’s no need for “His throbbing masculinity entered her” (or any less nauseating phrasing). More on this in my blog about writing sex scenes.

Other words for “penis”: the list!

Alright, onto the list itself! I haven’t managed to find the sources for all items: it’s a list I’ve been compiling for years, while I was reading numerous romance books. But a few sources definitely deserve a mention: Laurel Clarke’s Sexy Thesaurus, Dahlia Evans’ Thinking Like A Romance Writer, and Jackson Dean Chase’s Romance, Emotion and Erotica Writers’ Phrase Book. I find these all to be great sources when I’m writing sex scenes in general.

The categorization is purely based on personal preference. Let me know if you disagree, I’ll take all comments into consideration!

Perfectly fine:

  1. Member (but please, for once, don’t let it be throbbing)
  2. Arousal
  3. Erection
  4. Length
  5. Girth
  6. Sex (as in “his sex”)
  7. Shaft
  8. X part of him (“rigid part of him”, “hardening part of him”… etc.)
  9. Groin (not for the thing itself, but fine for “heat in his groin” and similar phrases)
  10. Loins (idem)
  11. Bulge (helpful if he still has his pants on)
  12. Dick (a little explicit, but might be fine for your style / POV-character)
  13. Cock (idem)

Use with caution:

(These are okay-ish for every now and then. Use them only where they’re suitable, and never five times in the same scene.)

  1. Manhood
  2. Hardness
  3. Rigidity
  4. Extension
  5. Wood
  6. Rod
  7. Sword
  8. Spear
  9. Arrow
  10. Phallus
  11. Flesh
  12. Organ

Please don’t use:

  1. Virile masculinity (“Did I say he’s an actual manly man?”)
  2. Evidence of his masculinity (idem)
  3. Iron-hard tumescence
  4. Trouser snake
  5. Love’s sweet arrow
  6. Love dart
  7. Red-headed champion
  8. Delicious stretcher
  9. Torrid instrument
  10. Excalibur (I kid you not)
  11. Heat-seeking missile (I wish I was joking)
  12. Raging beast of his desire
  13. Unmerciful machine
  14. Love muscle
  15. Flaming weapon of pleasure
  16. The bald avenger
  17. Promise of future delight
  18. Tube of fire

 

Did I miss any useful other words for “penis”? Or any hilarious euphemisms you found and want to share with the world? Please let me know in the comments!

Oh, and if you’re not done with the penis euphemisms yet… I also have a lovely list of penis names in history for you. Giggles guaranteed!

Writing sex scenes: 25 other words for “penis”
other words for penis

3 thoughts on “Writing sex scenes: 25 other words for “penis”

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  2. You said “trouser snake” but what about the one-eyed snake? I am very happy I found your site!
    Jan

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