More words for bottom, please. We’re behind.

A topic of recent debate amongst my colleagues and I has been the lack of sexy words for various body parts.

From a previous blog (an undies-statement) you’ll see that there’s a lack of words for underwear, especially when writing a romance novel. It appears this problem extends to breasts and bottoms.

Here is my question – if the Inuit and Sami people (from northern Scandinavia and Russia) have so many different words for snow and reindeer, why are there so few for breasts and bottoms?

Everyone has a bottom, and half the population have breasts (we all have breasts if you count man-boobs with pretend nipples, you know, like costume jewellery).

Looking up a thesaurus, synonyms offered for bottom are: glutes, buttocks, butt, derriere, behind, rump, posterior, fanny, tush, rear, bum.

The problem with these words? Firstly, use of fanny can cause offence. In Australia and Britain fanny refers to a woman’s genitalia. That’s why Australians say bumbag but will never say fanny pack. Never. God forbid.

Secondly, let’s face it, the words above for bottom aren’t used very frequently. They are likely to interrupt the imagination of readers engrossed in a romantic love scene.  Writing, “He was riveted by the firm flesh of her rump,” is NOT sexy, unless perhaps he’s a butcher. Or “She ran her hands over his smooth, rounded posterior/butt/derriere.” Speed hump, in more ways than one.

Bum and bootie are too colloquial, not romantic. Glutes are something gym instructors bark orders about. Twerking is a verb, can’t say he had a cute twerk. Builder’s crack is NOT an aphrodisiac in written form for female readers either (actually, my husband has always wanted to call a beach house, Sandy Crack. I am definitely NOT asking for his advice).

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the US colloquial tush comes from the Hebrew tahat, meaning beneath. I haven’t been raised in a culture that uses tush, so unsure if it suits a romantic context?

For bottom, can anyone top my gorgeous hairdresser’s suggestion, drum roll ….. backside?

Now for breasts – in the thesaurus we have bosom, tits, mammilla, mammory glands, udder, chest. Again, we don’t seem to demonstrate much linguistic exuberance for these parts of the body. It seems we go from sleazy male colloquialisms to veterinary terms with not a lot in between.

So, for the sequel to Arafura, can anyone assist with words to describe Kat’s breasts in a flattering, low cut, turquoise evening gown? There may just be a copy of Arafura for the best suggestion…

Also, acceptable breasts and bottom terminology for romantic scenes?

I’m sure everyone has an opinion, whichever gender you are   ………

🙂

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25 Responses to More words for bottom, please. We’re behind.

  1. Susan Forbes says:

    I agree with your wonderful hairdresser! Backside sounds naughty but sexy at the same time. I don’t think you can beat ‘breasts’, also strong and sexy. I personally like using the word ‘breasticles’ but can’t imagine Adam saying to Kat “oh I love your firm round breasticles” or …………….. can I????? 🙂

  2. A vote for backside and breasts, thanks! I know what you mean about naughty, strong and sexy. Really appreciate your opinion!!
    Breasticles sounds like an ice-cream on a stick, I could always wrangle that into the sequel, Darwin is hot, after all….. The husband wants to know if breasticles are available in different flavours, IGNORE HIM!!

  3. Lee-Anne says:

    Hahah, love this amusing post but unfortunately I can’t think of any good boob/bootie synonyms, you’ve cover them all really! I beg to differ that backside is in any way alluring or sexy…’behind’ is probably the best of a bad lot but even so, it’s a little colloquial. ‘Buttocks’ has a medical journal ring about it and ‘bottom’ a vaguely British, comical sound and the French ones are a tad pretentious and undignified. The rest, well they’re all a bit inappropriate in one way or another for racy writing and sex scenes.And for the other end of the spectrum…err, body, I agree ‘breast’ is best 🙂

    • Behind has it’s place, “She was rivetted by his cute behind” but somehow not going to pull it off in action love scenes, I fear. Neither is backside probably. If I make up a word it will sound contrived and weird. (Husband just suggested ‘butlocks’, he is such a help). So still stuck between the colloquial, comical and medical for bottom. That’s why I went for butt in Arafura but have been howled down by the anti-butt brigade.
      I do still have chicken breast issues but appreciate your vote there, am thinking it’s the way to go. 🙂

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  5. HazMo's Mama says:

    I’m so many posts behind (hahaha!)……but HAVE to reply to this one because I have much to say.

    Firstly, backside. Hmmm. Not so sure. Nor behind. Well, I like them both as general descriptions, but when I’m reading them…..not so much. And I know I’m in the minority, but I love ‘buttocks’. So manly. So muscular (it conjures up images of a tanned, firm, muscle-rippled specimen). Although, maybe slightly reminiscent of cattle (in a manly, muscular, ripply good way)….perhaps I am odd!

    Secondly, to Kat’s breasts (and for the record, I too think breast is best in these cases). Am thinking “…like the pearls that she wore around her neck, her breasts were perfectly, tantalizingly rounded. The turquoise fabric of her dress stretched tautly over them, exaggerating their swell and he had to force himself to look away….”. Or some such thing. Maybe she is not wearing pearls (I always think that because of Sam, she is in the happy position of having many strings to choose from). You know what I mean.

    Finally, I MUCH preferred the original title of this post. It was hilarious.

    xx

    • Ha ha, now you’ve really thrown a Kat amongst the buttocks!
      Cattle?
      Your suggestion, “…like the pearls that she wore around her neck, her breasts were perfectly, tantalizingly rounded. The turquoise fabric of her dress stretched tautly over them, exaggerating their swell and he had to force himself to look away….” is lovely, very modern day Jane Austen. May I use it for the sequel? A copy of Arafura for your troubles? 🙂

      • HazMo's Mama says:

        Of course you can! A fair trade indeed (though am delighted at the idea of having even one of my rambly thoughts included in your cannot-wait-to-read-it sequel).

      • Tantalising words already inserted into sequel, done and dusted. May have to annotate your copy, and add ‘ocks’ to a few ‘butt’s to make it acceptable though. 🙂

  6. Mana from Heaven! Good thing I am (relatively) sober.

    Since I understand you have a degree in economics, I am tempted to suggest “… a lustful economist, he could not help but notice her ample supply and demand curves, enticingly displayed in her low cut dress of decreasing marginal utility.” Do economists read chick lit?

    As a representative of the male half of the population, I must say that it is sacrilege to try and improve upon “bottom.” I would go indirect:

    “Like a moth inexorably drawn to a flame, he eyes were held captive by the erotic tramp stamp so defiantly embossed on the delicate curve of her lower back, a blasphemous sacrilege of profane ink on perfect alabaster skin so profound that it acted as a compass of desire pointing to the carnal path of her forbidden Southern Hemisphere, a journey of desire from which there could be no return, a fate to which he would have without hesitation eternally damned himself if given half a chance.”

    or

    “A virile fighter pilot, he deftly maneuvered to her six o’clock, and despite himself he could not help but note with admiration that she was possessed of an admirable thrust-to-weight ratio.”

    Lest I begin foaming at the mouth, I’ll stop now. Or maybe just one more:

    “Voluptuous Russian theoretical physicist Dr. Ivanna Duzyou-Higgs entered the room with an undulating swanky mamaric grandeur that both distorted space and froze time. Professor Diminya Tiv, a quantum physicist of no small ability himself and who long to nurture a deeper understanding in Ivanna, would have given her the Nobel prize for her Higgs bosom without hesitation were it up to him.”

    Maybe I’ll stick to non-fiction. Note to self: do not blog while consuming Drambuie.

    • You’ve outdone yourself, and earned a hard copy of Arafura. Definitely. As to using any of it in my sequel? I really couldn’t plagiarise such profound, sensory imagery. Give up your day job! Your examples have me on the edge of my ‘seat’, worried what’s coming next. Points for bravery being the only man to have replied to this post!
      Never made it to becoming an economist, just completed the degree. Too easily distracted, obviously.
      My email is susanlattwein@hotmail.com if you wish to give me an address to send my comparatively humble imagery to.

      • You may rest assured that, henceforth, I will be behind you in your every writing endeavour. Yes, there are no end of pitfalls when discussing the hind quarters of you lovely ladies, but I am trained to thrive where others fear to fly. I refuse to back down in the face of such peril.

        Oh, an unnamed navigator colleague who left the RCAF for the RAAF did once employ the term “grand pooper.” I can’t see that working in a romance novel, however.

  7. ‘Hind quarters!” What a fall to earth! Heading into ‘rump’ territory.
    And ‘grand pooper’? Sounds like my dog. Trust you to bring bowels into it, eventually.
    Still, behind me in my writing endeavour? I can’t resist that offer. 🙂
    What time is it there, are you navigating yourself off to bed?

    • I did indeed head to bed. As you are +15 hours ahead of me in terms of time, it should be close to 10:00 pm / 22:00 hours in Canberra at the moment. Almost 07:00 here and time for a morning coffee.

  8. Good morning. I sent your sister a copy of Arafura. She said she reads everything (phew). My brother now lives in Florida, said I used too many colloquialisms, his wife and sister-in-law had to keep asking him to translate. Brother also didn’t mention humour….But Californians who have read it didn’t complain. I’d be interested in your sister’s feedback. Is she Canadian?
    Yes, my turn for bed now. Thanks for all your comments today, still laughing.

    • Sister is indeed Canadian. Career nurse, live 20 minutes drive from me here in Ottawa. I’m certain she’d love to provide feedback.

      Sweet dreams from a land in which they do not put a fried egg on your chicken burger / sandwich.

  9. Susan, this post had me howling. It’s probably the best comment section dialogue I’ve read in months. There’s such wonderful material here–it’s nearly jaw dropping. Readers are amazing resources, and it’s clear you have a legion of fans. Me included! 🙂

    • 😊 From memory I sent off copies of Arafura to two readers and a couple of Hazmo’s Mamas lines are firmly ensconced in the sequel. Navigator 65 was on a roll, that’s for sure. Thanks Shelley!

  10. I agree on “backside,” and I like “breasts.” “Derriere” has a good sound too. But I’m not the one to say because I always have found love scenes hard to write.

  11. jbw0123 says:

    How about moon, cull, caboose or peaches?

  12. Reblogged this on Tess M Garfield and commented:
    I found this blog post yesterday when I was doing some research on buttocks, I mean bums, bottoms, peachy behinds… actually, I was trying to describe a male rear end, is peachy too feminine for a big muscular bloke?

    Anyway, I found this post by Susan Lattwein extremely helpful along with all the comments. I found myself laughing too because, yeah I’m British and I’m not going to describe my muscular policeman as having a sexy fanny!!!

    Being a writer is so much fun! Enjoy!

  13. Joe Macky says:

    While watching an Irish art film, a woman commented to her girlfriends about the waiter’s package. He was a guy in his late teens and the women were in their 30’s. She turns to her girlfriends and arcs her eyebrows and says, “Two eggs in a napkin.”. I have never forgotten that line. Hot stuff.

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