The Dirtiest Words…That Aren’t

Tittle Titivation

Pull your minds from the gutter for this show! Titivate is to make smart or spruce, and tittle rhymes with little for a reason; it’s a tiny amount of something. It’s also—adorably—the term for that tiny dot above a lower-case ‘i.’

So, here’s a tittle brain-titivating list dedicated to words that sound uncannily like their steamy friends but have nothing to do with the pleasures of the flesh. It’ll be like getting re-schooled on the birds and the bees, but actually learning about birds and bees.

Ready to titivate yourself?

Masticate & Macerate

You’ll be using your mouth and hands for other scrumptious pleasures when you masticate macerated fruit.

Masticate is another way to say “chew,” and macerate is a process of softening food in a soaking liquid. Macerated berries sweetened with a tittle sugar are delicious on pound cake. Nobody said mastication has to be moan-free.

Copula & Cupulate

These words are so close to copulating, it’s almost a shame. But copula has a crucial role in linguistics as a linking verb, connecting subjects in a sentence to their complements (so it does have to do with joining together). All forms of the verb to be are copula, and where would we be without them?

Cupulate is another way to say “cup-like,” and is often used in botany, as in “the cupulate shape of the liverwort’s thallus.” A thallus—not to be confused with phallus—is basically a blobby plant lacking stems, leaves, and roots.


This seems like it’d be a great term to describe the measure of something’s suction power (in an ‘oh yeah’ kind of way), OR a device to determine how horrible a situation is...

But in the meantime, the succulometer is an instrument that measures a vegetable’s moisture content. A succulent ear of summer corn scores high on the succulometer.


Isn’t it wild how powerful a single sound can be in a word? Here the ‘r’ makes all the difference between spiritual sorrow (penitence), and salaciousness. Actually, penetrance is a genetic term relating to how a particular gene is expressed. Much less penetrating than we thought.


This has nothing to do with that. Originating from the Latin vagire (“to wail”), vagitus is a newborn’s first cry. Come to think of it, the little wails from newborns do generally occur in close proximity to you-know-what.
(Yeah, we do feel a little silly speaking of the vagina like we’re talking about Lord Voldemort. Sorry about that.)


Speaking of which (even though, we’re actually not!), pusillanimous is most likely the derivation of one of the definitions of pussy (as in wimpy).

A pusillanimous person lacks courage. The word traces back to the 1580s and is a compound of pusill(us), “very small or petty,” and anim(is), “-spirited” or “-minded”. A very small- minded person with a cowardly spirit.


Yet again, we’re so close to a copulatory word—now, with the added naughtiness of a near-taboo. And it’s practically buttock (so easy to turn that ‘F’ into a ‘B,’ you don’t even need whiteout).

This one will be quick to deflate your sails, because a futtock is a curved timber piece of a ship’s frame. And to really shiver your timbers, the futtock is laced with shrouds, or ropes as part of the rigging (not the corpse-wrapping kind, but if you weren’t already turned off, that image will certainly do it).


Oh, the carnificial pleasures of life! That’s not something you’d want people to hear you say. Butchers and executioners might be familiar with the term, because this adjective is in reference to them, as in “a carnifical knife used to hack meat”. But even then…why? Probably the only person who gets any kind of pleasure out of carnificial stuff is Hannibal Lecter. Next!


Cut out a middleman and you’ve got erotic, but the simple morpheme transforms sexy to scholarly (which can also be sexy, mind you). Erotetic is a very erudite adjective used in rhetoric and linguistics to denote subject matter pertaining to interrogatives, like rhetorical questions. Who knew?


Diptych is our nod to South Park’s (always off-color) joke about “fishsticks,” although ours doesn’t imply homosexuality (Google “south park fishsticks” if you’re confused).

We won’t paint a picture of how raunchy diptych can get. Instead, we’ll take you to the late 1300s, a time when one of the first diptych paintings was produced. In art, diptychs are composed of two painted or carved surfaces that have been hinged together (after the Greek diptikus, “folded together”). Diptychs were also hinged wax-covered surfaces for writing.

Manal & Uranic

Pronounced with a forward ‘ay’ sound, manal and uranic sure sound like we’re dealing with A-holes.

In English, manal is an adjective describing the hand or relating to hand-like entities. Uranic means “of the palate,” another set of bony and muscular structures located in a different orifice altogether.


Because this slideshow is dedicated to sexy words that aren’t, you already know sextile doesn’t refer to the material Victoria Secret lingerie is made from, or to a human being who loves sex.

Sextile is an astronomy word pertaining to the position of two heavenly bodies 60 degrees apart from each other. The term dates to the 1550s and is derived from the Latin sextus (“sixth”), which was also a proper name for the sixth child born to a family.

In a rather titillating tangent, a sextile position in astrology is favorable for mental stimulation.


There’s no futtocking way this has nothing to do with what you think it must mean. Well, it could be that, but only metaphorically speaking.

To invaginate means “to put into a sheath.” And yes, invaginate leads us back to the original meaning of vagina as “a sheath” or some sort of enveloping structure. So, both metaphorically and physically invaginated. On the other hand, a person can look amazing while invaginated in a summery sheath dress. And for that matter, everyone invaginates themselves into pants. Think about that. Or don’t.