pillow talk


noun

private conversation, endearments, or confidences exchanged in bed or in intimate circumstances between spouses or lovers.

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Origin of pillow talk

First recorded in 1935–40
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

ABOUT THIS WORD

What does pillow talk mean?

Pillow talk is affectionate, intimate conversations in bed or in private between romantic partners.

How do you pronounce pillow talk?

[ pil-oh tawk ]

Where does pillow talk come from?

Pillow talk is recorded as early as the 1910s, though pillow has signified sexual intimacy for far longer. A pillow-mate, for instance, was slang for “prostitute” in the 1870s.

After sex, two parents may lie in bed, embrace, and engage in sweet, loving, very personal and revealing banter, ergo pillow talk. Studies have even shown how the hormone oxytocin, sometimes dubbed the “cuddle” or “bonding hormone,” promotes emotional intimacy following the more physical parts.

Pillow talk has been popularly featured on screens big and small. The 1959 film, Pillow Talk, featured plenty of romantic repartees between its stars Rock Hudson and Doris Day. Elsewhere in cinema, pillow talk has played a more nefarious role, with people taking advantage of after-intercourse openness to learn secret information—a trope called the honeypot used in many a James Bond story.

Popular music has seen pillow talk, too. Former One Direction singer Zayn Malik released his debut solo single in 2016, “Pillow Talk,” which hit #1 on the Billboard charts. The music video featured his girlfriend Gigi Hadid. Its chorus looked at both sides of the relationship pillow, as it were: “Pillow talk / My enemy, my ally / Prisoners / Then we’re free, it’s a thin line.”

How is pillow talk used in real life?

Pillow talk, naturally, is often used in discussions of deeper personal connections and lovebirds learning about each other in new relationships.

As partners are often more open after sex, willing to slip secrets, scandals, and hearsay, pillow talk is often used as a form of “gossip,” whether juicy or harmful.

Pillow talk is also associated with extreme honesty, sex tends to reveal our true selves.

Pillow talk is also used in platonic relationships, especially in close female friendships along the lines of bonding.

Pillow talk can be a metaphor in the likes of politics and business for two parties that are unusually close or showing special treatment, such as revealing trade secrets.

More examples of pillow talk:

“A woman who has been accused of using pillow talk to obtain insider trading secrets has claimed her boss bullied her during a 20-year affair to make her get illegal information for him.”
Daily Mail, June, 2011

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 pillow talk

pillow talk

noun

intimate conversation in bed
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