[ sahy-ber-seks ]


  1. any sexual activity, display, or discussion engaged in by means of a computer.


/ ˈsaɪbəˌsɛks /


  1. the exchanging of sexual messages or information via the internet
  2. sexual activity performed remotely by means of virtual reality equipment

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Word History and Origins

Origin of cybersex1

First recorded in 1985–90


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About This Word

What does cybersex mean?

Cybersex refers to engaging in sexually explicit communication on a computer, especially in online chats.

What are some other words related to cybersex?

Where does cybersex come from?

The cyber- in cybersex is a combining form meaning “computer,” “computer network,” or “virtual reality.” It is ultimately shortened from cybernetics, a word for the study of human and automatic control functions coined by mathematician Norbert Wiener in 1948.

Cybersex is recorded around 1985–90. American writer Howard Rheingold, for example, used the word in his book Virtual Reality. In 1998, as another example, Deborah Levine released her book The Joy of Cybersex, a play on the noted 1972 book The Joy of Sex.

Into the early 2000s, the term cybersex took off. Internet chat rooms where people engaged in cybersex multiplied. Studies discussed cybersex in terms of both the internet and sex addiction. In 2008, a couple even divorced over cybersex affairs in the online virtual world of Second Life. In 2019, the Philippines tried to address cybersex trafficking.

Even though the use of the word cybersex might have largely ceded to words like sexting, rapper Blackbear still named his 2017 mixtape Cybersex.

How is cybersex used in real life?

As the internet has become more woven into our everyday life, the term cybersex can sound dated, with people preferring terms like sexting or simply phone sex instead.

As digital technology evolved, cybersex has also come to denote text-based sexual communication in chat rooms and in role-playing games, with cyber a shortened form for the act.

While many couples may engage in forms of cybersex, cybersex is popularly associated with random hookups on chat rooms.

More examples of cybersex:

“For most people these forays into cybersex are relatively harmless pursuits, but experts in the field say that the affordability, accessibility and anonymity of the Internet are fueling a brand new psychological disorder—cybersex addiction—that appears to be spreading with astonishing rapidity and bringing turmoil to the lives of those affected.”

—Jane E. Brody, New York Times, May 2000

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