BDSM & Kink

Why Everyone Should Have a Safeword

Killing Kittens spoke to one of our members, Dr Mark (he/him). He writes about discovering the importance of safewords as a newbie to the sex party scene. What are safewords, and why should we use them? Are there good safewords? What is the idea around safewords? When we started attending parties and lifestyle events a few years […]
by KK
24 Jul 2019

UPDATED: 21 Jul 2022


Don’t worry. We are not talking secret codes, 007, Bletchley Park, and enigma machines. We’re talking safewords. We’ll let you know everything there is to know about using a safeword during sex, and also what are some good safe words to keep you out of trouble.

Killing Kittens spoke to one of our members, Dr Mark (he/him). He writes about discovering the importance of safewords as a newbie to the sex party scene.

What are safewords, and why should we use them? Are there good safewords? What is the idea around safewords?

When we started attending parties and lifestyle events a few years ago, we met a bunch of more experienced couples who were very helpful to us ‘newbies’. They suggested we adopt a safeword that we could use if we were uncomfortable with any situation.

I must admit that I did view this with some scepticism. Why would we need a safeword? What’s wrong with just saying ‘no’?

Surely we would know our limits and boundaries, having already discussed what we’re comfortable with? The KK Party Rules are quite clear. No means No. This rule of engagement works well, but sometimes in the ‘heat of play’, boundaries may be crossed, or change, or new boundaries may be discovered that we hadn’t thought to factor in. We want to make sure everyone is safe and comfortable at all times.

The definitions of play tend to ignore the importance of play as a learning experience. We may be comfortable within our own set limits, but we’ll inevitably explore and push our pre-conceived ideas and boundaries. Isn’t that all part of the excitement?

We’ve been together as a couple for many years and know each other very well. We have discussed our own limits but also readily appreciate how situations may change during play.

When we’re playing together, we communicate with each other. I don’t mean we discuss the latest Brexit situation or the Euro to the dollar exchange rate, but we do check that we are ok with the direction our play is taking. You may also be able to check with your playmates during play, but inevitably situations will arise, and boundaries may well be crossed—time to use your safe word.

When should I use a safeword?

Your safe word is to be used when you need play to stop, or for there at least be a pause to reassess.

Not because you are bored and simply fancy a drink at the bar with your partner or friends, or that you are worried that you will miss the last bus home. Use of your safeword means you need to withdraw immediately from the situation you find yourselves in and find someplace away from the action.

You may choose to discuss what has happened there and then and maybe return to play.

You may feel that you would rather discuss things later on your return home. Again, it’s about whatever works for you. But you really do need to have that discussion; communication is key.

So when you arrive at the party, take a moment to reflect outside that big door. Check with each other that you are both ready to party; also, use this time to share your safeword again. For those of us with rubbish memory, this serves to remind us of what word we had initially agreed on, but more importantly, it gives each of you ‘permission’ to use your word if you feel the need and also that your partner will listen and take the appropriate action.

The big door opens. Step inside and KK party the night away…

What are some good safewords?

There isn’t a magic formula for creating good safe words. All you need is something clear and easy to remember.

Need some inspiration and safeword ideas? According to our friends at Bustle, here are a few of the most common safe word ideas:

  • Celebrity’s names: Just be sure to make sure you don’t pick someone who’s likely to get a mention in your role play games!
  • Colours: Red seems to be the most popular, and you can understand why given the traffic light system. Bustle suggests using yellow or amber and green to slow things down or get things moving.
  • Fruits: Pineapple scores highly, for some reason, followed by more traditional fruits like banana, apple, and peach.
  • Flavours: Many players use vanilla as their safeword. Given it’s a word used to describe the opposite of your wild and kinky fun, it makes sense.
  • Food and drink: There are plenty here to go with; just make sure it’s not the same thing you use in your sex play. Don’t have your partner reaching for the strawberries if you really need them to stop.
  • Animals: Most animals are a good option, but we’d suggest leaving tiger, pussycat, kitten, and doggy off the table.
  • Sports: It’s unlikely you’re talking about the football scores between the sheets, so sports make good safewords.
  • Pop-culture words: Pick anything from Harry Potter, song lyrics, or major brands; something as far away from your bedroom talk as possible.
  • Complicated words: Although you could be convinced that these would be too hard to remember in the heat of the moment, they’re surprisingly popular. Just make sure you both remember your choice and can pronounce them!
  • Magical creatures: Unicorns, mermaids, centaurs, and goblins – again, just as long as they’re not part of the fantasy play you’re involved in, a magical creature should feel incongruous enough to draw attention and stop the play.

What about a safe action instead of a safeword?

In wrestling, components use a tap-out to signify when they’ve had enough, and you don’t have to try too hard to make comparisons between the grappling you’ll find in the ring compared to what you get up to in between the sheets.

If you’ve got a mouthful of something (a ball-gag, for example, or your partner), you could well need an alternative plan. Keeping a noisy pet toy or set of jingling bells in your hand could save you both from something neither of you is ready for. This is especially important when playing with bondage – you’ll need to have the noise-making thing in your hand ready to drop or shake if you need to stop. Lots of people use a handful of loose change, for example, which won’t make noise unless dropped onto the floor.

It’s also important for partners to check in with one another. It doesn’t break the flow of a scene to ask “how’s this feeling for you?” If anything, this kind of communication only adds to the intimacy and intensity of play.

So, what’s the safeword?

It doesn’t matter which word you use, as long as you have one. A safeword is a great idea for those of you who are stretching your loving muscles, broadening your boundaries or getting used to a new partner (or two, or three, or four…). Even if you are not particularly involved in kink, it is important to have conversations with partners. Talk about what you both like, or don’t like, and to have some phrases set by to say when needed. Having a safeword takes away the worry about how to phrase something, making you perhaps less conscious about hurting a partner’s feelings and therefore more likely to ask for what you want.