cunnilingus

[ kuhn-l-ing-guh s ]
/ ˌkʌn lˈɪŋ gəs /

noun

the act or practice of orally stimulating the female genitals.

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Also cun·ni·linc·tus [kuhn-l-ingk-tuh s] /ˌkʌn lˈɪŋk təs/.

Origin of cunnilingus

1885–90; < New Latin, Latin: one who licks the vulva, equivalent to cunni- (combining form of cunnus vulva) + -lingus (derivative of lingere to lick)

OTHER WORDS FROM cunnilingus

cun·ni·lin·gual, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

ABOUT THIS WORD

What else does cunnilingus mean?

Content warning: the following content includes references to sexual activity.

Cunnilingus is the oral stimulation of female genitalia. While many women highly enjoy it as a form of oral sex, it has a popular reputation for being difficult to accomplish or performed lousily.

Where does cunnilingus come from?

Cunnilingus comes from the classical Latin cunnus, vulva” or “female genitals,” and lingere, “to lick.”

Although it is ancient practice and depicted in historic erotica, the term is first found in English in the 17th century, originally referring to a person who performs the act. By the mid-1800s, cunnilingus was naming the oral sex itself.

Many a teenager is wowed to learn cunnilingus is a more formal name for performing oral sex on a woman, as the act goes by many slang names. These include more common ones, such as eating a woman out and going down on a woman, and more colorful takes, such as carpet-munching, muff-diving, lip service, tipping the velvet, or taking a mustache ride. Like male oral sex, cunnilingus may also be called giving head. Anilingus is the rectal counterpart.

Cunnilingus is both enjoyed by heterosexual and lesbian couples. But because of the nature of the act, some men boast about their effort or selflessness in performing cunnilingus. Popular culture also portrays men as clueless about how to stimulate female genitalia, especially when it comes to locating the clitoris, resulting in depictions where men need special skills to pleasure a women through the sex act.

A 1995 episode of Seinfeld, for example, features characters discussing “the move,” a fancy, acrobatic-seeming method of performing effective cunnilingus, though the term isn’t explicitly mentioned by name.

How is cunnilingus used in real life?

Cunnilingus is enjoyed by a great many women, and a man who is willing or eager to perform it is often praised because of it.

Various tips and tricks to perform cunnilingus are often shared among friends, although they may not be as effective or accurate as one would like.

Because cunnilingus is so popular, unwillingness to perform it may be a sexual deal breaker at the beginning of a relationship.

As noted, while discussion of cunnilingus isn’t for polite company, the term itself is considered less vulgar than eating (a woman) out or, say, having a box lunch.

More examples of cunnilingus:

“Known as oropharyngeal cancer, this type of HPV-associated cancer is most common in men in their 50s and 60s, and using a dental dam while performing cunnilingus can significantly reduce the risk of HPV transmission.”
—Isadora Baum, Men’s Health, August 2018

“Honestly—and with apologies to Mrs. Khaled—we couldn’t really give a shit about what this guy does or does not do sexually. But it was fascinating to watch the internet collectively react to his idiocy, forming an unlikely but powerful coalition in favor of the simple art of cunnilingus.”
—William Hughes, The A.V. Club, May 2018

Note

This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.

British Dictionary definitions for cunnilingus

cunnilingus

cunnilinctus (ˌkʌnɪˈlɪŋktəs)

/ (ˌkʌnɪˈlɪŋɡəs) /

noun

a sexual activity in which the female genitalia are stimulated by the partner's lips and tongueCompare fellatio

Word Origin for cunnilingus

C19: from New Latin, from Latin cunnus vulva + lingere to lick
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Medical definitions for cunnilingus

cunnilingus
[ kŭn′ə-lĭnggəs ]

n.

Oral stimulation of the clitoris or vulva.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.