Where does blue balls come from?
According to slang lexicographer Jonathon Green, the term blue balls for “intense sexual frustration” dates back to at least the 1910s. In the 1920s, Green notes, blue balls was also used as slang for a venereal bubo and gonorrhea.
Blue balls has since gone on to specifically describe a dull, aching sensation that occurs during sexual arousal before or without ejaculation. Medically, this is sometimes called epididymal hypertension, which causes an increase in blood pressure in men’s genital area during sexual arousal. The presence of deoxygenated blood, which is bluish in color, around the testicles during this state explains, for some, the blue in blue balls. However, the blue likely alludes to the use of the word’s meaning as “sad,” characterizing a male’s frustration when experiencing blue balls.
Examples of blue balls
Who uses blue balls?
Blue balls has seen a number of colloquial extensions. Given its connection to unreleased sexual tension, blue balls can refer more generally to a state of horniness.
Metaphorically, blue balls is sometimes used to refer to non-sexual situations when one is frustrated by a long wait. For example, if someone has been waiting in the doctor’s office for an hour past the scheduled appointment time, they might say that the doctor is blue-balling them.
Similarly, blue balls can also playfully describe a situation when people get a taste of something they want, but not enough to satisfy them. For example, one might experience blue balls if craving a food in the middle of the night only to discover a small amount of it in the fridge.
Blue balls are sometimes seen as a way for one partner to guilt another into continuing sexual activity even though one party may not want to. Men and women can use the phrase blue balls in both sexual and nonsexual contexts. A female equivalent of blue balls has been dubbed blue clit, though the phrase blue balls has been so metaphorically productive that one need not have testicles to use blue balls in reference to their own sexual frustration.
Due to its sexual content, blue balls may be seen as inappropriate in many contexts.
This is not meant to be a formal definition of blue balls like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of blue balls that will help our users expand their word mastery.