There are so many creative ways to refer to the act of self-pleasure. In this article we will go through the common ones that are around today, as well as look at the history of masturbation euphemisms, as well as TENGA’s own attempts to introduce new expressions for masturbation through the years.
- Why All the Euphemisms?
- What Does Everyone Say?
- Historically Colorful Language
- TENGA and the Language of Masturbation
- In Summary
Why All the Euphemisms?
In the 1800s, masturbation was seen as a great societal evil, thought to cause any number of mental illnesses, including insanity. Naturally, people would avoid talking about such taboo subjects, at least directly. When the topic would be brought up, it would have to be in a way that distances itself from the topic, in a way that lessens the embarrassing or awkward situation. What better way to do that than with wit and humor?
Let’s look at how masturbation slang has changed in tone and content throughout the years.
What Does Everyone Say?
There are many euphemisms that we are all familiar with. The problem of finding where these expressions come from is made difficult because they were not spoken of in polite circles, nor studied by linguistic scholars for the longest time. But we can try to piece it all together.
‘Beat your meat’
Using the term ‘meat’ to refer to the penis has been around since the 1500s, so it was only a matter of time before this simple, fun rhyme would become popular.
‘Jerkin’ the gherkin’
Once again we have some nice rhyming, combining the type of movement involved coupled with the phallic shape of the pickle. The same verb is used for a more common and modern expression, to 'jerk off'.
Although it has another meaning ‘to laze about’, the current more popular meaning probably comes from the action ‘to jack’, or hoist something up, along with ‘Jack’ being old slang for penis. 'Jerk off' combines this expression with the one above!
More of a British term, once again focusing on similar actions. In this case it was probably a mix of whack + whang, both meaning ‘to strike a blow’. Perhaps the Brits are more prone to powerful pleasure?
‘Bic niemca po kasku’
It is interesting to note that some expressions might come from historical experiences unique to a culture, hence the Polish ‘hit the German on the helmet’. I guess the helmets look similar.
'Play with yourself'
A perfect example of a euphemism, meant to make the subject matter palatable to all. What is more fun than playing? All 3 words are innocuous on their own, but together they have a very specific meaning.
Historically Colorful Language
At the start, there were quite heavy negative connotations to masturbation, either believing it to be a sin, or likely to lead to health and mental issues. Even the origin of the word ‘masturbate’ might come from the latin ‘manus’, or hand, and ‘stuprare’ to defile, literally meaning ‘to defile by the hand’.
300 years ago, it was referred to as ‘self-pollution’ due to the above reasons, but as time went on, the language became more neutral.
About 100 years ago the terms had more to do with the action involved, such as shake, rub, and polish. Words that already had a meaning, and so anyone listening in would be none the wiser.
In more recent times, slang tends to be more funny, longer expressions evoking powerful imagery. From ‘choking the chicken’, slightly ghastly, due to how wringing the neck of a chicken looks like, or ‘spanking the monkey’, following the familiar style of somewhat violent action (spank) and slang for genitals (monkey).
Some people go for simplicity, such as ‘fap’ a rare case of onomatopoeia from the sounds of masturbation.
In the last few years more and more people are becoming aware of the benefits of masturbation, and the language is changing to reflect that. The idea of ‘self-pleasure’ is now being thought of as part of self-care, as an important part of taking care of yourself in these stressful and turbulent times.
Following the positive shift change in attitude, the term ‘solo sex’ helps remove the stigma of masturbation being for shamed, lonely people, instead being part of normal, healthy sexuality.
Quite the big change from ‘self-pollution’ to ‘self-pleasure’.
TENGA and the Language of Masturbation
Being a sexual wellness company, TENGA has of course been using this language for a while. Here are just a few examples:
For our more general ads, we like to use the expression ‘Self-Pleasure’.
For penis specific products, this has been modified to ‘Male Pleasure’.
And for the women’s brand iroha, years ago we went with the gentle euphemism ‘Get to Know Your Body’
We also changed ‘Beat your Meat’ to ‘Beat the Heat’ for our COOL TENGA Series, featuring menthol-infused lotion to cool down in the Summertime.
In 2017 TENGA ran the ‘Do It in May’ campaign to get more people masturbating, and talking about masturbation during May, the international month of masturbation.
Of course, many graphics of these euphemisms were made for your viewing pleasure.
Happily ‘Polishing his Rocket’
The always popular ‘Spanking the Monkey’
Don’t give cholesterol a thought when liberally ‘Buttering your Muffin’
No animals were harmed making this image of ‘Choking the Chicken’
Laid-back, relaxed, while ‘Paddling the Pink Canoe’
The language of masturbation changes according to how people view it. From the negative imagery of the past, to the humorous imagery used to hide embarrassment, all the way to the current positive way we are starting to talk about it now.
There is no need to fear the ‘M word’, but it can be fun to come up with creative new expressions for masturbation!
Why not come up with one yourself?
The simplest method is: (vigorous action word) + (euphemism for genitals)
May you always find pleasure in pounding the pillar.