About This Word

XXX

or xxx

[eks-eks-eks] or [trip-uheks]

What does xxx mean?

XXX marks something as pornographic, often used as shorthand for any sexual content. 

xxx

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Where does XXX come from?

In 1968, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) introduce the X-rating to classify movies depicting adult-only content, usually entailing explicit language and sexual activity. Choice of the X, apparently, evoked the letter's association with the word explicit or symbolic use for restriction. Brian De Palma's Greetings, the debut film of Robert De Niro, was the first film to be rated X. 

In the 1970s, the adult-film industry embraced the X-rating, with producers using XXX to market a film as especially wild and sexy. Triple X's came to mark, if not advertise, other products and services (e.g., strip clubs, magazines) as pornographic, a practice which carried into online pornography in the 1990s.

In 2010, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), an internet-overseeing body, officially approved the creation of the .xxx top-level domain. This domain was meant to be used by pornographic websites (in place of .com or .net) in order to both help make porn sites easier to find (for those looking) and to make them easier to filter out (for those seeking to avoid them).

Who uses XXX?

XXX can be used to censor the word sex in print and digital content where the term may be considered inappropriate. XXX can also be used, conversely, to call attention to the sexual nature of some product, service, or item. In speech, people usually refer to XXX as triple X (e.g., a triple X video).

In the 2000s action-film franchise XXX, Vin Diesel stars as Xander Cage, the X's also conjuring up extreme and, of course, sex.

Unrelated uses of XXX include its use for 3x ("three times" or "extra") like in XXXL shirt. In the 19th century, XXX was used denote very strong malt liquor.

For example

Chicos pizza seams [sic] safer. Why are all the pizza places next to xxx shops?

@rayreadyray, August, 2006

The raunchy advertisements directed users to webcam sex sites where punters pay for XXX performances live on camera.

Sean Keach, The Sun, April, 2018

And one of them is "maylingsu". Cool. She's a "Normal Girl" during the day and "DIY XXX Star" at night. That's amazing stuff. Really.

@ingobousa, December, 2007

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