Safe Words: Ideas, Tips, and Why Everyone Should Use Them

Safe words: what are they, why do we need them, and what are good safe word ideas? If you’re having sex that’s in any way “non-vanilla”, you need one. Here’s our beginner’s guide to choosing them and why they’re so important.

Light box with text spelling sex

What is a safe word?

Safe words are an essential part of BDSM and kink language.

They are a clear, direct, and pre-agreed upon way for you to immediately stop sexual play. The moment you’re not happy with what’s happening, you feel uncomfortable, anxious, or like it’s too intense, you say the word or do the non-verbal signal and all action has to stop. This can be during touching, talk, sex, role-play, or anything else.

After it’s been said, you need to check in with each other about what went wrong and then both agree to resume play.

What is a safe word for? Pre agreed-upon safe words and signals are necessary because in some situations, like role-play, words like “no” and actions like pushing someone away are part of the scenario, and don’t mean stop.

Don’t worry about your partner being offended or disappointed. Don’t think you’re not “good enough” or that you can’t “handle” something if you use a safe word. Everyone has different limits and stuff they like. Your sexual partner wants you to feel satisfied, so they want you to let them know the moment this isn’t happening!

Woman kneeling before seated man dom/sub concept

Safety is sexy. Seriously

Despite what people think, wild, freaky, kinky sex isn’t about totally losing your inhibitions. Sex can only be these things in an environment where everyone feels safe and knows they’re able to stop.

That’s why BDSM and other kinky play is based on Safe, Sane, Consensual principles. These principles let you fall into sexual play and experience new realms of pleasure, sensation, and psychological satisfaction.

What is a safe word? Something that lets both of you relax. Neither of you has to wonder if the other person is having a good time because they enable you to easily speak up the moment you’re not having fun.

They’re used more often than you think

Safe words and signals aren’t just for people doing BDSM dungeon stuff. If you’re doing anything that has the potential to cross your boundaries, use a safe word. Experimenting with light choking, spanking, or a new fetish? Use one!

Word sex next to purple handcuffs on pink background

Verbal vs Non-verbal safe words

Safe words can be actual words, like “taco” or “red”. However, sexual play sometimes involves your mouth being… otherwise occupied. You might be exploring gagging or choking, have a body part in your mouth, or be in a role play that involves you not speaking.

So, what’s a good safe word for when you can’t talk?

If these situations occur, you need a non-verbal signal, like a wrestler who requests a time-out of play by tapping out. Common non-verbal signals are tapping, pinching, or snapping your fingers.

What makes a good signal? Safe word ideas and choosing signals

Looking for safe word ideas?

Overall, a good safe word is one you and your partner both agree on. It goes without saying, but they should not be anything that could be confused for anything normally said or done during sex. Like a back scratch, moan, or oh please.

Some safe word ideas are more popular than others. The traffic light system is popular because it’s clear, simple, and memorable. In the traffic light system, “green” means keep going, “yellow” means slow down, and “red” means stop right now.

Close up traffic lights on street

However, you and your partner can alter each word’s specific meaning to suit you.

Other popular safe word ideas are fruits, animals (especially magical ones), sports, celebrities, and favorite fictional characters. Feel free to pick whatever feels good: pineapple, unicorn, hockey, Britney, Harry Potter...

Safe words should be easy to pronounce and remember

Generally, safe words shouldn’t be complicated. They should be a word that is familiar to you both and easy to articulate, so you’ll be able to say it in the heat of the moment. These can be anything from “safe” to “latte”.

They should be a word you feel comfortable saying

For some people, the funnier and sillier a safe word is, the better. If you’re wondering about safe word ideas, pick a word that’s on the tip of your tongue! Nouns are good because when you say the word, the visual image of the object comes to mind. Think umbrella, boat, poodle...

And it helps if it kills the mood…

Given that safe words are designed to make sex stop, it helps if they kill the mood. For some people, that means choosing “grandma”... Of course, another word might suit you better!

Happy couple hugging and smiling at home

That is our essential guide to choosing good safe words! If you’re looking for more safe word ideas, look at the objects around you, think of a word you enjoy pronouncing, or an object that makes you laugh.

As long as your partner and you discuss it first, alongside desires, boundaries, and worries, you’re ready to have that wild, freaky, kinky time you deserve! Don’t forget, safe words make the fun more fun.