Sex Terms Through the Years, Explained


Since the dawn of time, man has found new and creative ways to avoid saying the word "sex." But what exactly has inspired people to invent ridiculous terms like "boink," "bump uglies," and "smush"? To better understand horniness through the decades, we referenced lexicographer Jonathon Green's Cassell's Dictionary of Slang, added in a slight helping of Jersey Shore for additional expertise, and dove into the etymology behind a few key slang words from the '80s, '90s, '00s, and present. None of them should be used on prospective partners, unless you're Will Smith.



Knock boots (with)
Although Green dates this one to the '80s, the phrase supposedly refers to Old West sexy times. When cowboys got with the ladies, they'd place their boots under the bed. The ensuing action would knock the shoes together repeatedly, creating noise and an enduring, weird slang for sex.

This word is supposed to evoke the sounds of mattress springs through its blending of the words "boing" and "bonk." But it mostly just shows us the dark side of portmanteau.

Do the Humpty Hump
Digital Underground popularized this phrase, obviously. Shock G had an alter ego named Humpty Hump and gave himself a whole song where he got to yell, "do the Humpty Hump." The rest is history.

You can figure this one out, right?


Getting jiggy (with)
The entire decade was full of ridiculous idioms, but "getting jiggy" might just take the cake. Of course, the phrase has two connotations -- one merely implies dancing (see: Big Willie Style) while the other implies something seedier. This does not mean you should use it in either context.

Bump uglies
The origins on this, uh, lovely term, are hard to pin down. Slang experts place it in the '90s, but it's not clear exactly where it came from. Credit might go to House of Pain, which referenced it in '92 on the track "Feel It." The line went like this: "And let's get down to do the nasty, freaky, funky, stinky, junky, let's bump uglies in the nighttime between the sheets." Considering "uglies" and "nasties" are kinda interchangeable, it's possible the members of House of Pain just started rattling off synonyms and landed on the phrase in question. Or someone might've noted that genitalia isn't that pretty before "Feel It" dropped. Hopefully, some noble linguist is on this very important case.

Get your freak on
This phrase was in use at least a decade before Missy Elliott got to it -- if you need evidence, look no further than LL Cool J's autobiography. People initially said "get your freak on" to refer to more perverted or kinky stuff (hence, "freak") but some used it as a more general catch-all term. Nowadays, either is acceptable, but spelling it "get ur freak on" is only OK if you're Missy.



We don't know how prevalent this term actually was until the Jersey Shore gang started dropping it in every single sentence, but you can thank Snooki and The Situation for making it so famous. It's seemingly a take on "smash," only exponentially more uncomfortable to say in public.


Smang (it)
Yung Humma made this very clear in his 2010 Internet hit, but "smang" is a combination of "smash" and "bang." As SNL Alex Trebek would say, simply stunning.

Netflix and chill
The hip new thing is "Netflix and chill," which is basically the same thing as inviting someone over to "watch a movie," only with updated millennial terminology. As Fusion notes, the phrase originally had a more innocent meaning, but those days are long gone.

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Kristin Hunt is a staff writer for Thrillist, and doesn't know if the word "boink" or "smush" makes her more uncomfortable. Follow her at @kristin_hunt.