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Meaning of Safe Words, Best Examples & 27 Ways to Use Them in Rough Play

​​You might think that safe words are only used in the BDSM community. But are they? Do you need a safe word? Read on and decide for yourself.

safe words examples and how to use them

You may not completely understand the meaning of safe words or how to use them. That’s okay because a lot of people don’t.

And even if you know what a safe word is, you might think only people in the BDSM community use them. But that’s not necessarily the case.

Let’s look a little deeper at safe words.

[Read: 15 secrets to have the sexiest rough sex ever]

What is a safe word? 

Safe words originated in the BDSM community, but it’s not clear how long they have existed. 

However, it’s likely that they arose in the late 1970s and early 1980s as part of the activist movement that worked to build standards around safety and consent in the BDSM community.

Terms like “safe, sane, and consensual” arose from this period as well. But all said and done, the idea of safe words likely came to mainstream attention as a result of the Fifty Shades of Grey movie. [Read: BDSM for first timers – How to be a dominatrix in bed]

So, what exactly is a safe word? It is a word that you and your partner choose pre-sex, that either partner can use when they feel that the experience is becoming too much, and needs to be paused or stopped. 

The minute you say the safe word, all sexual activity stops. The dominant partner stops what they’re doing to their partner. It’s basically like a sexual time-out.

Having a safe word provides the submissive partner the opportunity to express to their partner if the pain or experience becomes uncomfortable. [Read: Some BDSM tips and tricks for a curious first timer]

Of course, if you’re dominant, you may not exactly know the strength you have. When you’re in the power position, you can get carried away. It happens to everyone.

But now, the concept of a safe word has reached past the BDSM community, making its way into mainstream culture as many couples now have a safe word for when they’re in the bedroom. 

You don’t have to be tied to a bed or have hot wax poured on your back in order to know when you’ve had enough. [Read: 48 sexy secrets to have better sex and explore new things to try in bed]

The great part of a safe word is that it allows you to have fun and explore your sexual boundaries while giving you the opportunity to stop at any time. You basically create an exit that gets you out of the situation. 

Plus, by using a safe word, you’re free to say whatever you want, even if it’s “that hurt” or “stop.” Because your safe word is usually something non-sexual that you would never use in the bedroom.

But do safe words actually work in real life?

There are some instances where using a safe word will be difficult. For example, if your partner has gagged you, you’re not going to be able to speak properly. [Read: How to be kinky – 42 steamy tips to explore sex outside of normal]

However, just because you cannot verbalize your safe word, doesn’t mean you cannot create a gesture that means stop. Many people found different ways to show their safe words when unable to say them.

Now, if you’re not into BDSM, that’s cool. You can still use it effectively for consent. During sex, sometimes it can get a little rough. For many people, instead of saying stop, they feel uncomfortable and just wait until it’s over.

It’s understandable why people do that – they feel bad saying something negative that may seem like a turn off in bed. But with a safe word, you’re nicely telling your partner the boundaries in a way that doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable. [Read: 10 tips to help you open up about your kinky side]

You don’t need to explain anything, you simply say your safe word. They stop. So, yes, a safe word actually does work in real life.

How do you choose your safe word?

Now that you know the meaning of safe words and the reason they exist, you may be curious about how to find a safe word. Well, there are a couple of things to consider when thinking of a safe word.

1. Use one word

You don’t need a safe word that’s going to be two or three words long. You need one short and strong word that indicates to your partner that they’re going too far. [Read: Angry sex – the primal secrets to have a wild time and do it safe and right]

It’s easier not only for you, but also for your partner. You want them to be able to clearly hear and understand the word.

2. It can be a random word

You do not want your safe word to be something that can be used in the bedroom. In other words, don’t make your safe word “yes” or “no” or “spank me.” [Read: Top 50 kinky sex ideas worth trying at least once in your lifetime]

Choose a word that no one would hear in a sexual encounter and something that sounds so out of place, your partner notices it right away.

3. Make sure it’s easy to pronounce

If you cannot say it properly while you’re jogging, then you shouldn’t use it as a safe word. 

Remember, you want your safe word to be easily audible as that’s the whole point. Make sure you can clearly say it. [Read: From the Red Room to the real world – how to add BDSM to your boudoir]

4. Tell your partner the word

You cannot just have a safe word and not tell your partner the word. You need to tell them the word. 

Make sure they understand what they need to do once they hear the word. Does it mean that they completely stop? Does it mean they continue but be gentler? You decide and then tell them.

5. Use a common safe word

There are a couple of common safe words that many people use which seem to do the trick. These words follow the suggestions above. So, they’re quite effective at what they’re supposed to do. [Read: Dating kinky girls – 19 tips to go from vanilla to spice with her]

The best and most common safe words to use

Not feeling inspired to choose a safe word? Don’t worry, here are some of the most common safe words people use during sex.

1. The traffic light system

This is an easy way to alert your partner of what they need to do. You say ‘red’ to stop, ‘yellow’ for your partner to slow down, and ‘green’ for them to keep going.

All three words are short and sweet to say, plus, everyone can relate to them easily.

2. Safe word

This is a great safe word when you simply don’t like any of the other safe words, but can’t come up with your own.

“Safe word” is pretty dull, and well, it’s very clear as to why you’re saying it. [Read: Daddy kink – what it is, how it works, and what you need in a daddy dom]

3. Apple

Well, it’s a pretty unsexy word, in general. So, that’s probably why it’s so popular. If your partner hears ‘apple’ during sex, they should know it’s meant for them to stop.

4. Vanilla

This is associated with having vanilla, non-kinky sex. If you say vanilla, it’s a cute association that you want your partner to ease up on you and take a gentler route.

5. Pineapple

This is truly a word you’d probably never use in the bedroom… unless you’re into pineapples. If so, don’t use this as your safe word. [Read: Kinky sex positions for a wild night every day of the week]

Pineapple is actually an extremely popular safe word as it’s highly unlikely that they’ll mix it up with anything else.

6. Unicorn

Yeah, you were probably getting used to all the fruit-safe words, but don’t get too comfortable just yet! Unicorn is another common safe word. The odds of you seeing one during sex are pretty rare. *unless you’re having a threesome and calling the third partner a unicorn!*

7. Banana

Unless you refer to your partner’s penis as a banana, this is a good safe word to use. [Read: 50 shades of dangerous sex – the right way to get risqué]

8. Beetlejuice

And you thought that Beetlejuice was just a strange, creepy movie! Nope. It is also a popular safe word. Do you think that’s because a lot of people in the BDSM community like it?

9. Justin Bieber

Known for his music, and now he is also known as a popular safe word. Whether or not you like his music, it’s something that you can use to stop sex if you want. 

10. Foliage

Maybe you’re a nature enthusiast and love to go hiking and be outdoors. If so, many people like to use the word “foliage” to get across their message. [Read: The craziest kinky sex stories from Reddit to make you go “Oh!”]

11. Mango

Not only is a mango a yummy fruit, but it can also be used as a safe word. Green on the outside and yellow on the inside, they are mighty tasty.

12. Oklahoma

It might not be the most exciting place to live, and so maybe that’s why it’s popular. Perhaps it’s a signal to take it from wild and exciting to tame and boring.

13. Pause

Well, this one is pretty self-explanatory, isn’t it? Pause means pause – or stop. It’s simple, straightforward, and leaves no room for guesswork. [Read: Strap in and kink out – your guide to having submissive sex]

14. Pie

Another food-oriented safe word that is popular is pie. Who doesn’t love eating pie? 

15. Red

The color red can mean a lot of different things. On a stoplight or stop sign it means stop. If someone is wearing it, then it can be passion. And now a safe word.

16. Cacao

Cacao seeds are from a small tropical American evergreen tree from which cocoa, cocoa butter, and chocolate are made. Now it’s also a safe word. [Read: Couples kink list – 54 freaky sexual fetishes that aren’t weird at all for some people]

17. Teletubby

Well, here’s a strange one, huh? Teletubbies might be a bit creepy, but apparently some people like them enough to make them into their word that means “stop.”

18. Banoffee

Oh, so you haven’t heard of banoffee? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. It’s a British dessert pie made from bananas, whipped cream, and a thick caramel sauce. But saying it won’t give you the sugar rush! 

19. Tofu

For vegetarians in the world, you can always choose the safe word tofu. It’s a pretty bland-tasting piece of food, so maybe that’s why it’s so popular. [Read: 30 Hot, sizzling ways to spice up your sex life and leave you horny 24/7]

20. Moldy bread

There seems to be a theme among safe words being food, don’t you think? Not that this is a tasty one. But it’s a term that some people find effective.

Some people have nonverbal safe words

If you didn’t find any of those popular safe words to your liking, there are some people who prefer to have nonverbal safe “words.” Here are a couple of things you could try. [Read: How to spice up the bedroom – 22 tips to set the bed on fire]

1. Snapping fingers

This is an easy one to remember, but you have to be in the right physical position for it.

If you are getting wild, kinky, or tied up, then it might be difficult to arrange your hands in the position to snap. But it can be done.

2. Tune-humming

If you are a singer *or even if you’re not*, you could try humming your favorite tune. But make sure your partner knows it. And it’s not a good option if you tend to be tone-deaf.

[Read: 17 wild secrets to have aggressive sex if you enjoy some pain in bed]

See, the meaning of safe words doesn’t have to sound serious. You can have fun choosing one and use it in a way that doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable when telling your partner that you’d like to stop.

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Vinod Srinivas Serai
Vin Serai
Vin Serai is the founder of LovePanky.com, and has delved deep into the working of love and relationships for almost two decades. Having dipped his feet in almo...