This week, we’ve got a special edition of “Commonly Confused Words,” featuring the word confusions we’ve seen come up in erotica! Needless to say, some of these words are a smidge on the saucy side, so only read on if you want to see that kind of thing.
Often, which of these words an author uses marks the difference between a story being very sexy, and a story being very strange, so to all writers out there – it’s worth learning the differences, asking for help, or Googling if you’re not sure!
The confusions in this post were suggested by people on our Discord, and every single one is something we’ve seen actually happen!
wonton vs wanton
wonton (noun): a small dumpling or roll with a savory filling, common in some regional Chinese cuisines, usually served in a soup. For example: “The wontons in this soup are delicious!”
wanton (adjective): unrestrained, licentious, brazen, or flagrant, especially used in sexual contexts or to refer to the flirtatious and/or sexual behavior of an individual. For example: “His moans grew more wanton as his arousal intensified.”
bear vs. bare
bear (noun): a carnivorous mammal. Alternatively, commonly used slang for a relatively large and hairy gay man. For example: “The bear hunted for salmon,” or, “I love going to that bar, there are lots of bears there.”
bare (adjective): empty, exposed, without covering, or naked. For example: “She emerged from the pool, water sluicing from her bare skin.”
bear (verb): to have patience or tolerate. For example, “Please bear with me,” or, “She bore the hardship well.”
bare (verb): to reveal, expose or share. For example: “Stay and listen, and I’ll lay all my secrets bare,” or, “With the cameras on, he bared all.”
contraception vs. contraption
contraception (noun): a means of preventing pregnancy. For example, “When the Planned Parenthood open, people in the area were able to access multiple means of contraception,”
contraption (noun): a device, usually arcane, strange, or unnecessarily complicated. For example, “When I asked you to build something, I didn’t mean you should put together one of those Rube-Goldberg contraptions.”
prostate vs. prostrate
prostate (noun): a small gland located between the bladder and the penis. It can be stimulated anally, and many people find the sensation pleasurable. For example, “A finger thrust into them and rubbed over the nub of their prostate.”
prostrate (verb): to lie down flat on the ground, or to suffer from severe exhaustion or a feeling of being overwhelmed. For example: “After his husband died, he was prostrate with grief.”
perineum vs. peritoneum
perineum (noun): the stretch of skin between the (scrotum or vulva) and the anus. For Example: “I licked over her perineum, then lapped eagerly at her clit.”
peritoneum (noun): the thin membrane that lines the abdominal cavity and covers the abdominal organs. For example: “The peritoneum plays an important role in protecting many organs, such as the spleen.”
semen vs. seamen
semen (noun): reproductive fluid which contains spermatozoa. For example: “She squeezed her eyes shut as her climax overwhelmed her, and semen spurted from her throbbing cock.”
seamen (noun): the people who work aboard a ship. For example: “The navy employed many able-bodied seamen.”
cum vs. come
This one is a trick. There is no difference (despite what some websites say). Some people say “cum” is the noun and “come” is the verb but this is merely an attempt to formalize and rationalize usage; in reality, they’re the same word, but “cum” is more slang/colloquial, and “come” is more commonly used in writing and is more technically correct – however, neither is wrong.
And, finally, the hardest one (we mean “most difficult” one, get your head out of the gutter!)…
lay/laid/laid/laying vs. lie/lay/lain/lying
lay (verb): to place an object down. Present tense: lay. For example: “I lay my jacket over the back of my chair.” Past tense: laid. For example: “I laid my jacket over the back of my chair.” Present participles: laid or laying. For example: “Where is the book?” “Oh, I laid it on the shelf over there” or “The book was laying on the shelf.”
lie (verb): to settle into a prone position on a surface. Present tense: lie. For example: “He feels like watching TV, so he lies down on the couch and grabs the remote.” Past tense: lay. For example: “He felt like watching TV, so he lay down on the couch and grabbed the remote.” Present participles: lain or lying. For example: “I have lain still for many hours” or “She was lying on her bed, asleep.”
to get laid (verb): slang for having sex. For example: “Oh man, I found the hottest guy on Tindr – guess who’s getting laid tonight?”
lay (noun): slang for a sexual experience, usually applied as a description of a person along with an adjective rating how positive or negative the sexual experience was. For example: “Dude, no, whatever you do, don’t hit that. Worst lay of my life.”
Most of the confusion between these two derives from the past tense of “to lie” being “to lay,” versus “to lay” being the present tense of a different word. The easiest way to figure out which one you need between lay and lie is figuring out the subject of the sentence. If the subject is interacting with an object (a book, a jacket, etc.), then you probably want “to lay.” If you subject is moving themselves then you probably want “to lie.” For example: “After picking the cat up, she lay it down on her bed,” versus, “the cat lies down on the bed.” Or, in the past tense… “After picking the cat up, she laid it down on her bed,” versus, “the cat lay down on the bed.” Yeah, it’s kinda confusing – if you’re really struggling, try figuring it out in present tense first, and then switch it to the tense you actually need once you’ve figured out which one is the right word.
So, now that we’ve resolved some confusions – go forth and PORN!
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