Sexy English

Sexy English

“I think it’s cool to be smart, and I think it’s sexy to be smart.”

Stacey Farber, a Canadian actress

Sexy can mean many things: provoking or intended to provoke sexual interest (e.g. a sexy woman, a sexy dress), interesting, exciting, glamorous or trendy (e.g. a sexy car, a sexy project). The adjective is quite informal, especially if it’s used to mean fashionable and/or exciting. Compare:

Her political message isn’t very sexy. Her political message isn’t very appealing.

Teaching might not seem like the sexiest career choice. Teaching might not seem like the most exciting career.


Don’t confuse sexy and sexual. Sexual feelings or activities are connected with the act of sex or with people’s desire for sex: sexual relationship, partner, desire, fantasy. It also means relating to the differences between male and female people: sexual discrimination, stereotype, characteristics. Finally, it means relating to the biological process by which people and animals produce young: sexual reproduction, maturity. Other common collocations: sexual abuse, assault  relations, health, harassment, intercourse, equality, politics (sexual politics is differences in the amount of power that men and women have in a society or group), orientation/preference.

Sexy is never related to the science of biology. Unlike sexual, it can mean attractive and exciting.

Now, let’s practice! Choose the right adjective – sexual or sexy – to complete the sentences. below. The answer key is at the bottom of the page.

  1. People I find ___ are not trying to be cooler than they are.
  2. We are looking for ___ male models for the upcoming new menswear photoshoot.
  3. According to women, medicine is a very ___ profession.
  4. The women were subjected to rape and other ___ violence.
  5. Here is the in-depth study of the following concepts: ___ identity, ___ orientation and ___ diversity.
  6. Erotica is fun and ___.


As you may already know, there are lots of informal expressions used when talking about kissing and sex.  Moreover, there are some regional differences when it comes to such vocabulary. The following video is about it.

Humorous expressions

Informal but not vulgar expressions

  • naughty /ˈnɔːti/ – a word used humorously to describe things that are sexual
  • to feel fruity (British English) – in the mood for sex (a fruity remark/joke is humorous in a slightly shocking way)
  • prudish (disapproval) – very easily shocked or embarrassed by anything relating to sex; this word shows that you think people who behave in this way are silly
  • a prude (disapproval) – someone who is prudish
  • to snog (British English) – to kiss for a long time
  • to have a snog (British English) = to make out (American English) – to kiss and touch someone in a sexual way
  • to have a smooch / to smooch (British + American English) – to kiss and hold each other closely
  • hanky-panky – sex (in American English hanky-panky usually means dishonest or immoral behavior)
  • to have a hanky-panky with sb. – to have sex with sb.
  • rumpy-pumpy (British English) – sex
  • deary me! (British English) – an exclamation of surprise
  • nookie/nooky (British + American English) – sex
  • cheeky (British English) – slightly rude or disrespectful but in a charming or amusing way
  • the birds and the bees (British + American English) – the basic facts about sex and how babies are produced (check out this post for more euphemisms)
  • procreation – the process of producing young animals or babies
  • to get laid/to do it/to get it on (American + British English) – to have sex
  • to have a quickie – to have a quick sex
  • to shag/to have a shag (British English, offensive) – to have sex
  • to hook up (American + British English) – to begin a romantic or sexual relationship with someone
  • to have a one-night stand (American + British English) – to have a sexual relationship that lasts for only one night


In this blog there are many articles about idioms in songs of popular artists. That’s because we think songs give an insight into “real”, modern-day English, which we hope you like as much as we do. They can also be a certain window on modern culture and help us understand what is popular and trendy in different parts of the world. If you are interested in such articles, here are just a few: “Idioms in Madonna’s Songs,” “Idioms in Alicia Keys’s Songs,” “Idioms in Adele’s Songs.”

As a matter of fact, pop songs are often about sex. Let’s look at some famous examples and learn from them…

Marvin Gaye. “Sexual Healing”

The lyrics are here.

  • Let’s get down tonight = let’s make love tonight
  • I’m hot = I’m keen to have sex
  • I can’t hold it much longer = I can’t wait anymore

Toni Braxton. “You’re Making Me High”

The lyrics are here.

  • to get high – to achieve a state of mental euphoria
  • I can’t get my mind off you = I can’t stop thinking about you
  • Light my fire = romantically or sexually arouse me

Britney Spears. “Touch of My Hand”

The lyrics are here.

  • obscene /əbˈsiːn/ – offensive in a sexual way
  • Imagination’s taking over = Imagination’s taking control
  • the small of one’s back – the lower part of the back that is smaller and narrower than the rest
  • I’m all in my skin = I’m comfortable in my own skin (I’m relaxed and confident)
  • I’m into myself = I love myself

Christina Aguilera. “Nasty Naughty Boy”

The lyrics are here.

  • I’m gonna take my time = I’m not going to hurry
  • to sip on/upon something – to take small sips of a drink over a period of time
  • Voulez vous coucher avec moi (French) = Do you want to sleep (make love) with me tonight? (a cliche used in the English language)
  • to break into a sweat – to start sweating
  • for all it’s worth – said when you are giving someone a piece of information and you are not certain if that information is useful or important
  • to blow one’s mind – to impress or otherwise affect someone very strongly
  • There I go again = I’m doing it again

Answer key: 1. sexy 2. sexy 3. sexy 4. sexual 5. sexual (×3) 6. sexy


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