Aug 9 2011 2:00pm

Not Another Gosh-Darn Melon-Farming Euphemism!: Sex Talk, Translated

Watermelon image by PinkMoose via FlickrGenerally speaking, writers are not a conservative bunch. They’ll try anything, say anything and write about it all in (occasionally excruciating) detail. So why the bizarre shyness that seems to overcome even the best romance authors? One minute it’s all probing tongues and throbbing groins and then suddenly his “member” is getting cozy inside her “center” and they’re “making love” until something or other spasms (often her womb, which, quite frankly, sounds unpleasant).

Okay, sometimes you need a euphemism or two just for the sake of variety. That’s when standards like nub, folds, shaft, bud(s), core, and length come into play. And using only anatomically correct terminology would definitely get too clinical, not to mention dull. But is there really any excuse—other than to make readers snicker and roll their eyes—for the egregious examples that follow?

Dark Slayer by Christine FeehanYou have to wonder why Christine Feehan thought “feminine channel” was a good idea. I found it in Dark Slayer, but it could just as easily have come from a 1970s tampon ad.

Despite the cringe-inducing title, I thought Tamara Hogan’s Taste Me was pretty good. That is, other than the descriptions of groins rubbing against “dewy core[s]” and “lush portal[s].”

It seems Elissa Wilds is a fan of pearls, as in “her little pearl,” “engorged pearl,” and “little, nerve-laden pearl” (all found in Darkness Rising). Wilds also mentions “her sweet valley,” which sheds a whole new (and unwanted) light on those Sweet Valley High books I read as a tween.

I guess Jade Lee was going for a Medieval-ish sounding euphemism when she replaced penis with “prock” in her Dragonborn series. It’s not the worst euphemism ever, but it has a vaguely unpleasant ring to it (maybe because it’s so similar to “prong” and there’s not much sexy about prongs). After a while of constant use it also gets tiresome and a little silly (maybe Lee needs a euphemism for prock!)

When I found Taken for Revenge, Bedded for Pleasure by India Grey in a secondhand bookstore I couldn’t not get it (the title alone!) But it also rewarded me with this prime example:

“…he felt the agonising [sic] relief of his aching arousal being freed from the confines of the unyielding fabric.”

Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine HarrisLastly, Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse books are a rich source of euphemistic gold! From “We reached the end of the tunnel” in Living Dead in Dallas; to Quinn’s “excitement” being pressed against Sookie in Definitely Dead; to my personal favorite in her latest, Dead Reckoning, when Sookie refers to her vagina as her “yahoo palace.”

It goes without saying that this is by no means an exhaustive list; I’m sure someone could devote a lifetime to ferreting out all the examples to be found in romance novels alone. Maybe the real purpose (and definitely the real fun) of euphemisms is to see what else writers can come up with. When you settle in to read your next book, though, you might want to grab yourself a glass of wine—to go with all the cheese.

Melons image courtesy of PinkMoose via Flickr


Aspasia Bissas is a blogger, writer, and collector of cheesy euphemisms. “Gosh-darn melon farmer”—her ultimate favorite—was borrowed from a now-forgotten movie censored for TV. You can read more of her ramblings at her blogs Blood Lines and Domicile.

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1. Elle11
Yahoo palace?! LOL, I think that would make me put down the book.

Just FYI, I think India Grey is from the UK, so there is no spelling error in your quote. Some words spelled with a Z in the US are spelled with a S in the UK. Organize/organise, etc.
Heather Waters
2. HeatherWaters
So many great (read: hilarious) euphemisms in romance. You can't really avoid them, but man, there are some creative ones out there!
Kate Nagy
3. Kate Nagy
In a book I was reading recently, the author was parodying bad writing of every sort, including bad romance writing, and presented a passage in which the hero's hands become "two staves of lustfire." I'm still laughing at that, although I think it was actually supposed to be funny, unlike Feehan et al., who are dead serious with their velvet sheaths and steel ramrods and whatnot.

Also, "prock?" Seriously?
4. dick
Yeah, but think about it! Two or so pages of prick, cock, penis, whaever, all doing the same thing time after time? Euphemisms have their place, if for nothing else to relieve the monotony--and supply a bit of humor.
Jamie Farnik
5. JamieMF
My personal fave combo is "ladyflower" and "manroot" from the inimitable Bertrice Smalls. Seriously, I read some of her sex scenes out loud to my friends, and we were nearly dying of laughter. Now we'll come up to each other and ask "Psst! How's your ladyflower doing?" I actually collect old romance novels from the '70s and '80s mostly for the euphemisms-they make for hilarious reading!
Aspasia Bissas
6. AspasiaBissas
@ Elle11 Yahoo palace has been a source of much hilarity since I read
it! Thanks for the spelling info too. The was actually meant just
for the editor (since H&H uses US spelling) so she wouldn't think it
was me accidentally slipping Canadianisms in :)

@ Katy Nagy "two staves of lustfire" LOL I'm surprised someone hasn't
used that one seriously. As for "prock," after the twentieth time it was
used I almost put the book down and walked away (I'm stubborn--what can I say?)

@ JamieMF "Ladyflower" and "manroot" have to be two of the best
euphemisms ever! I wish I'd known about them when I was writing this. Love the idea of the cheesy romance collection (might have to steal it...)

Cheers, everyone!
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