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Thai Language Thai Culture: A “G” Rated Look at Thai Sex Words

Thai Language

A “G” Rated Look at Thai Sex Words…

Thai, like any other robust language, has lots and lots of words for “sex” and all the stuff associated with it. And in Thailand, for various reasons, discussions of this topic are quite frequently encountered.

But just like with any language, the words used in discussing this topic can run the gamut from the scientific to the vulgar. The vulgar words can be picked up just about anywhere, so I thought that a short lesson on how to discuss this most important of topics at a higher, more well-mannered level might be beneficial.

Sex…

เพศ /pâyt/ – sex

This is a very useful word in that it can refer to the gender of a person or animal. เพศชาย /pâyt-​chaai/ is a “male” (ชาย); and เพศหญิง /pâyt yĭng/ is a “female” (หญิง). But เพศ /pâyt/ by itself can also just simply mean “sex”. It gets really interesting especially when it is used along with other words though.

อวัยวะเพศชาย /a-wai-wá pâyt chaai/ – male sex organ
อวัยวะเพศหญิง /a-wai-wá pâyt yĭng/ – female sex organ

อวัยวะ /a-wai-wá/ means “organ” (of the body). Add that along to the word for “male” and “female” and you can safely, and if you want scientifically, talk about the various sex organs of the body. I have also heard these terms used in talking about the reproductive organs of a flower. To each his own, I guess.

The Thai word สัมพันธ์ /săm-pan/ means “connected to” as in “relationship”. So a nice formal and completely polite word is มีเพศสัมพันธ์ /​mee-​pâyt-​săm-pan/ or “to have a sexual relationship” or to be more straight forward, “to have sexual intercourse” (another meaning of the word “intercourse” is communications between individuals, interestingly similar to สัมพันธ์ /săm-pan/). But a simpler way to say the same thing is just มีเพศ – “to have sex”. Since this is a very important activity there are a multitude of words for it. Another polite word is ร่วมเพศ /rûam-​pâyt/. ร่วม /rûam/ means to “share” or to “join together”.

People of the night…

We have an interesting saying in English “the oldest profession” meaning of course, “prostitution”. Thai is no slouch when it comes to euphemisms either. The term การค้าประเวณี /gaan-​káa-​bprà~​way-​nee/ is made up of the words การค้า /gaan-​káa/ – “business”; and ประเวณี /​bprà~​way-​nee/ a word that means “customary” or “traditional”. You probably won’t hear this word about a traditional way of earning a living except maybe at a university lecture. But there are lots of others to describe this particular career path.

The most straight-forward and least euphemistic of these is โสเภณี /sŏh-pay-nee/. But this topic is ripe for euphemisms, as in ผู้หญิงหากิน /pôo yĭng hăa gin/ “a girl looking to eat”; or ผู้หญิงหาเงิน /pôo yĭng hăa ngern/ “ a girl looking for money”. Of course just to be balanced here, you can substitute ผู้ชาย /pôo-​chaai/ – “boy” instead. Then of course there is the easily understood loan word ผู้หญิงบาร์ /pôo yĭng baa/ – “a bar girl”.

Gay and Homosexual…

True homophobia like you find in the west is almost never encountered in Thai society, except maybe from the visiting foreign community, so a lot of the following words will not have the negative connotation that they would in other places.

A caveat: One word that you hear Farangs use often in Thailand is “Lady Boy”. It’s basically self-explanatory although a bit condescending. But it isn’t really a Thai word, and although it might be in the process, it still hasn’t been borrowed into the language. I personally have never heard a Thai use this word unless they are talking with a foreigner. My impression is that the word “lady boy” is an English word used almost exclusively by foreigners to describe a common cultural aspect of life in Thailand.

But Thai has a very rich vocabulary for this topic.

A real loan word is เกย์ /gay/. Straight forward, meaning the same in Thai as in English. A Thai word commonly understood by most foreigners living here is กะเทย /gà~​toie/ – meaning “a gay man”.

But this aspect of Thai culture can sometime be confusing. For example: The other day I was passing a store selling cosmetics. Outside there were two salespeople helping women shoppers by explaining how to use each of the products. One of the sales people was quite beautiful, shapely, with long hair and a tight fitting dress. But when she spoke it was obvious that she had been born a physical male. The other sales person was a man dressed in a nice suit and colorful tie and was acting much more effeminate than his partner.

Because vocabulary arises to describe things in a culture that need describing, there are two different words for these two very different people.

The word often used for the man in the suit and styled hair, speaking with a soft voice when explaining the cosmetics is กะเทย /gà~​toie/, or just เกย์ /gay/.

The other person, visually a stunning woman, is often referred to as ผู้หญิงประเภทสอง /pôo yĭng bprà-pâyt sŏng/ (not a “lady boy” as a foreigner would say). This word explains a lot about the Thai world view. The word ผู้หญิง of course means “woman”, ประเภท means “kind’ or “category”, and สอง means “two” or “second”. Translated this word means “a woman of the second category”. The guy in the suit was a man; his partner, although physically a male, was a woman (albeit of the 2nd kind).

No wonder Thailand can hold and be proud of the yearly Miss Tiffany Universe Pageant.

Here are a few more words (I told you Thai had a rich vocabulary):

คนรักร่วมเพศ /kon-​rák-​rûam-​pâyt/; คน – “a person”; รัก – “love”; ร่วม – “to mix”, “to join together”; เพศ – “sex”. This word, although being ambiguous, is usually used for homosexuals.

ทอม /tom/ – “lesbian” – This is a loan word, probably originating from “tomboy”.
กะเทยแปลงเพศ /gà~​toie-​bplaeng-​pâyt/ – “transsexual” (having had sex change surgery); the word แปลง /bplaeng/ – means “adapt”, “modify”, “convert”.

And just to show that I am an equal opportunity blogger…

Heterosexual…

สนใจเพศตรงข้าม /sŏn jai pâyt dtrong kâam/ – heterosexual. สนใจ /sŏn jai/ – to be interested in; เพศ /pâyt/ – sex; ตรงข้าม /dtrong-​kâam/ – opposite

Procreation…

And although sex doesn’t always lead up to this, it is often a “side effect”. The simplest word for “pregnant” is ท้อง /tóng/ – literally “stomach”. Also used is มีท้อง /mee-​tóng/ – “to have a stomach”, and then the nice really formal word which you might read but almost never hear มีครรภ์ /mee-​kan/ where ครรภ์ means “womb”.

And as for the words “to give birth” we have ออกลูก /òk-​lôok/ – loosely translated “to put the kid out”, and the formal ให้กำเนิด /hâi-​gam-​nèrt/ – “to cause to be born”. But the one that seems the best to use in most situations is คลอด(ลูก) klôt (lôok).

And for others:
งดเว้น /ngót-​wén/ or ละเว้น /lá-​wén/ – “to abstain from …”

Hugh Leong
Retire 2 Thailand
Retire 2 Thailand: Blog
eBooks in Thailand

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Hugh Leong loves explaining things. And during his 40 plus years of trying to learn Thai and its culture, he learned to love the cross-cultural aspect of living in a foreign country and speaking its language. His series, Thai Language Thai Culture, covers various aspects of learning Thai, and how the Thai culture influences how we say things.

12 Comments

  1. Hmmm. Can my comment be a “no comment” :D Actually, it is nice to see a G-rated post on a topic that is best known for being X and XXX rated. Cheers on a clean post.

    BTW, what made you write it?

  2. Lani,

    Contrary to popular belief, I am a “G” rated guy. Of course in my younger years that may have been a different letter rating. But who can remember. As they say, “If you can remember the 60s then you probably weren’t there.”

  3. Who says your a G-rated guy?????? :P

  4. Keith McDaniel

    April 4, 2014 at 10:15 am

    Khun Hugh,

    I imagine no other linguistic topic has a vocabulary that spans the ultra-clinical to the most vulgar as this one does, so some handy polite words like the ones you mention are much appreciated.

  5. oh, this is the first time I see ออกลูก used with humans. I always believed it was only used for animals.

  6. Kris,

    ออกลูก is one of those not-so-polite words when used with people. I wouldn’t use it. I would use คลอด as in พี่สาวคลอดลูกเมื่อเช้านี้ (My sister gave birth this morning, or My sister had a baby this morning). Remember my last post “Non-Synonymous Synonyms” where two Thai words could have the same meaning but differ in when and where to use them. This is a prime example.

  7. Interesting, if aptly titled “G” rated post about sex words in thai.

    Unfortunately, given the incredibly fast advances thai has made (because the thai youth of today refused to be shoe-horned into accepting a language which has been pretty much stagnant for the last 100 or so years) there is a plethora of thai slang, import words and interesting word plays on the topic of sex. Some have been around since “Hector was a pup”, but some have just recently came on the scene.

    Now, it should come as no surprise that thaiz have about a gazillion words for sex. Every language does; seeing as we’re all human and the drive to reproduce is hard wired into us.

    I find it strange you didn’t even touch on the innocuous sounding old standbyz; ผู้หญิงขายบริการ (girl selling service) which is used ALL the time, or even the ผู้หญิงอย่างว่า (that ‘sort’ of girl).

    Of course sex talk in thai couldn’t be complete without ทำการบ้าน (do homework) or the มีอะไรกัน (have something together) which back in the day were the “go to words” for having sex.

    They also have the euphemism ฟันแล้วทิ้ง (slash and discard) for a one nite stand. Nowadays I hear ชนแล้วหนี (hit ‘n run) a lot more. I think thaiz took this phrase because it’s famous in thai news as in almost every accident the person responsible flees the scene 555+.

    Don’t forget; นกเขาไม่ขัน (the dove doesn’t coo) which has become so common place that it was a head line in a thai newspaper and is a frequent topic in magazines for both men and women.

    It is my opinion, that you’ll NEVER EVER get even a rudimentary functional thai vocab about sex from a thai language school, your thai significant other or even your thai guy friends.

    If you want sex words, you need to invest the money into magazines which routinely talk about sex in thai to thaiz. No matter how straight laced you might imagine these people are, believe me, they most definitely aren’t. Even that b/s rag คู่สร้างคู่สม has interesting topics relating to sex (and I HATE that magazine)!

    For guys I’d say buy; FHM, Maxim, Playboy, Penthouse etc. There are also magazines geared towards women which cover the same topics; although as a guy you look pretty strange reading them in a food court.. Then again you look pretty strange reading a Penthouse in a food court too. I started making copies of articles I wanted to read so I didn’t have to carry the magazines. Even as hard core as I am, I didn’t feel quite right reading those magz out-n-about!

    It’s from reading stuff like that where you start to develop a rich vocabulary in terms of sex.

    One last thing (possibly more than G rated); thaiz are FAMOUS for subbing out the first letters of words which would be coarse to say out loud. The other nite one of my close thai guy friends told me he’d met a gurl and was going to take her back to his room. However he didn’t because he was afraid he’d เห็นหมี (see the bear). Until he explained it to me I was totally in the dark, but I’ll let you guys work that out for yourselves.

    BTW: that author Kaewmala has some good stuff about sex too. . .

    Keep up the great work Hugh! Someone hasta spoon feed us foreigners banal thai vocab and you’re far better suited for it than I am.

  8. Hi Todd,

    It is good that you are up-to-date on the modern terminology. I can tell that you have a wide amount of experience in this area. My wild oats were sown in Thailand in the 1960s when I was in my 20s, and I was very familiar with all the slang then, and my “dove cooed” beautifully.

    But being 68 years old now and having a partner for the past 43 years and who is age appropriate, I don’t have the opportunity now to learn the latest slang as you apparently do.

    Remember, I started off the post by saying “The vulgar words can be picked up just about anywhere.” I would guess by your comment that you would be the go-to-guy for that.

    But my being “banal”? Dictionary.com defines that as “devoid of freshness or originality; hackneyed; trite”. Sorry you feel that way about my wanting to pass along some “well-mannered”, non-slang vocabulary.

    Banal? I gave you a link to the Miss Tiffany Universe Pageant. What more could you ask for?

  9. Perhaps my word choice was ummm, poorly thought thru. Honestly, the word banal was in my word of the day email, so I thought I’d throw it out there. I will endeavor to do better. BTW; endeavor was a word of the day too!

    You know I meant no disrespect to you and your post was clearly titled as “G-rated words”, so you were spot on, if somewhat sparse with the offerings. I just tried to spice it up with some extra tidbits.

    I’m far from the “go to guy” in terms of coarse language but thanx for that. I’m workin’ on being able to have a ปากเป็นแม่ค้าปลา (mouth like a fishmonger’s wife) when the situation arises as it has value to me in my life here.

    I doubt ANY of the words/phrases I used would be considered คำหยาบ (vulgar), ภาษาตลาด (market language) or ปากหมา (dog’s mouth) by thaiz. I think thai has a very rich, broad ability to express and encompass complex thoughts via idiomatic and emotive phrases which can be a double-entendre should the context indicate it.

    I couldn’t understand why you didn’t include some of the more interesting words and phrases which have a sexual connotation are commonly used in thai and which to thais, most definitely have a “G” or at most maybe a “PG-13” rating. Even the term เล่นเกมเซกส์ (play the game of sex) is so common place with the thai youth of today and said without fear of repercussion; and there’s no way to misinterpret that phrase any way you parse it out!

    You did mention a very interesting point which I have pondered for quite some time. Slang in thai (and any language) is “age appropriate”. Slang terms which were said by the parents’ of thai kids when they were young are almost unknown or unheard of. Just as some of the things thai kids say goes right over their parents heads. I wish I could learn the slang that thai people my age (55 y/o) used when they were growing up. I almost feel bad when I hear old foreigners saying จุงเบย for จังเลย, บ่องตง for บอกตรง or ฝุด ๆ for สุดๆ, as those slang terms sound strange comin’ outta an old guy’s mouth.

    Perhaps you can use the “way back machine” or dig into your memory banks and come up with some words, phrases & idioms which were used back in the days when you first washed up here. I’m sure you know plenty, even if you don’t routinely use them, they’re in there somewhere. It’d be a very interesting post for sure.

    One thing I love about being a foreigner here is I never have to have a น้ำท่วมปาก (a flood in my mouth) like thaiz do when they want to say something but can’t; due to cultural restrictions and oh-so clear “rules of engagement” thaiz adhere to when conversing. I’m a foreigner, I’m totally happy speaking ตรงไปตรงมา (straight out – straight back) instead of อ้อมค้อม (around the topic).

    I hereby ถอน my คำพูด (retract my statement) as far as your word choices for your post and my broad brush analogy of what it comprised. It was pretty darned good, if I do say so..

  10. Hi Tod,

    I have been thinking king about this and i realize that I really don’t use much slang at all, either in Thai or English. Guess that is why I don’t use much slang in these posts. Don’t know why that is true, just

    BTW , I am down in Krabi and I can hardly understand a word they say to each other here.

  11. On Channel 3 they were criticising some louche activities over Songkran with the words กะเทยโชว์นม ผู้ชายโชว์เจ้าโลก, the latter being another euphemism for the male sex organs.

    And surely the term กะเทย means more than a ‘gay man’ — it involves cross-dressing or transvestism or whatever the politically correct term is.

  12. Hi Hugh,
    I like to get to know ladies be they be straight or don’t mind they being heterosexuals but no transgender, have gone through sex change.

    I try to avoid writing in ‘negative’ way, eg no transgender, no 2 nd kind.

    1. In dating site, then is it correctly better
    to state I am looking relationship with ladies of the first kind only.
    They should understand that?

    2. How to write ladies of first kind only in Thai script?
    thanks in advance!

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