Sub Meaning | What Does This Term Mean And Stand For?

What does “sub” mean? If you have traveled in certain circles on the internet, then chances are you have encountered this term a time or two on the internet when viewing certain sites. If you have seen or heard this phrase being used and were wondering what it most commonly means, then you have landed on the right page to satisfy your curiosity.

Here you will find out what this phrase means, see the information regarding its origin, and view some alternative meanings of the term. You will also be able to read through some example conversations as a way to help you better understand the term from seeing it used in context. Lastly, you will see some words or phrases that mean the same thing as the original term and that you can use to replace it in conversation without changing the meaning.

Sub Meaning

What Does “Sub” Mean?

This abbreviated term is used most commonly to represent the word “submissive.” This is a term used most commonly in the BDSM community to distinguish the person in a consensual relationship that is loyal and subservient to her/his dominant, or master.

Origin of “Sub”

In this case, this term is used in the prefix meaning of the term to mean under or below something. It is derived from the Middle English, more specifically Latin, where the term means under, below, from below, or secretly. There is no specific information regarding the time frame that this term was first used or recorded in the sense of the meaning mentioned above.

Related Terms to “Sub”

In the context of BDSM relationships, the term “Sub” refers to a submissive person who willingly hands over control to a dominant partner. Let’s explore some other terms that are closely related to or can be associated with “Sub.”

Dominant (Dom/Domme): While a sub is the submissive party in a BDSM dynamic, the dominant person takes control and exercises power over the sub. In a Dom/sub relationship, the Dom sets rules and guidelines for the sub to follow, and they may use discipline and rewards to maintain order.

Switch: In BDSM, a switch is a person who alternates between dominant and submissive roles. Switches may have different preferences and limits in each role, and they may not necessarily play both roles equally. The term highlights the fluidity some people have when it comes to power dynamics.

Bottom: Often used interchangeably with the term submissive, the bottom is the receiving partner in a BDSM scene or sexual encounter. In contrast to the top (the person who performs the action), the bottom typically experiences submission or pain, depending on the specific activity.

Top: The counterpart of the bottom, a top is the active participant in a BDSM scene or sexual experience. They engage in various activities on the submissive partner (bottom), which can range from simple actions like spanking to more complex situations like role-playing or bondage.

Bondage: One of the key elements of BDSM, bondage involves physical restraint with ropes, chains, handcuffs, or other devices. Bondage can be used to establish dominance and submission, elevate sensations, or create visual appeal during a BDSM scene.

Sadomasochism (SM): This concept combines the practices of sadism (deriving pleasure from inflicting pain or humiliation) and masochism (deriving pleasure from experiencing pain or humiliation). SM is often a component of BDSM relationships, with one partner engaging in sadistic behaviors and the other in masochistic ones.

To summarize, the term “Sub” and its related terms highlight the diverse and complex world of BDSM relationships, where power dynamics, roles, and preferences shape unique experiences for each individual involved.

Sub Examples in Conversations

A text message exchange between two friends.

  • Friend 1: Would you consider yourself to be a sub?
  • Friend 2: You mean in the bedroom?
  • Friend 1: Yes, why do you ask?
  • Friend 2: I was just curious because I am too and Mariah and I were trying to decide if you were. She said you probably weren’t since it seems like you always like to be in control.

An online conversation between two forum users.

  • User 1: I think it is demeaning for a woman to give up all her power to a man and call herself his sub.
  • User 2: Well then you do not fully understand the relationship between a dom and his sub. It has little to do with power and if you truly understood the relationship fully, you would realize the submissive has all the power.

More about “Sub” Terminology

Synonyms of “Sub”

There are several other words or phrases that you can use in place of this term in conversation that would bear the same meaning. Some of the other words or phrases you could use include:

  • subservient
  • compliant
  • yielding

Other Meanings of Sub

While “sub” is commonly used in the context of a submissive role in BDSM or similar relationships, there are other meanings of the term in different contexts. Here are a few alternative meanings:

  • Submarine sandwich: Known as a “sub” in short, it is a type of sandwich made with a long roll of bread, typically filled with meat, cheese, and other fillings.
  • Substitute: In various contexts, “sub” can be short for “substitute” – such as in teaching or sports – where someone temporarily takes on the role of another person who is unavailable.
  • Subwoofer: In audio, a “sub” or “subwoofer” is a type of loudspeaker designed to produce low-frequency sounds or bass.

Keeping these alternative meanings in mind, be sure to provide proper context when using the term “sub” to ensure clear communication and avoid misunderstandings.

“Sub” Meaning Infographic

Sub Meaning: What Does This Term Mean and Stand For?Pin

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the characteristics of a submissive person?

A submissive person is someone who is inclined or willing to submit to the orders or wishes of others. They may show humility, a desire to please, and obedience in their interactions with others. Submissives often have a strong need for guidance and structure, and they look to a dominant person for this support. It is essential to note that submission is a consensual act, and a submissive person chooses to engage in this dynamic willingly.

How does a submissive relationship work?

In a submissive relationship, one person (the submissive) consensually gives their submission to another person (the dominant). The dominant takes charge and provides guidance, support, and structure, while the submissive follows their lead and seeks to please and serve them. Both parties negotiate their boundaries, desires, and expectations in advance, ensuring open communication and mutual consent for the dynamic to function successfully.

What is the connection between sub and BDSM?

BDSM is an acronym for Bondage, Discipline, Domination, Submission, Sadism, and Masochism. The “sub” in BDSM refers to the submissive role – the person who consensually yields power and control to the dominant partner in the context of a BDSM scene or relationship. Submission is a significant aspect of the BDSM community, and many people explore their submissive desires within this safe and consensual environment.

What is the role of a sub in a dominant-submissive relationship?

In a dominant-submissive relationship, the sub’s role is to obediently and humbly follow their dominant partner’s lead. This may involve performing tasks, participating in activities, or enduring trials designed to please and serve the dominant. It is crucial for the submissive to communicate their boundaries, desires, and any discomfort they may experience during the relationship. Their primary role is to show dedication, trust, and devotion to their dominant while also maintaining their own well-being and safety.

What is a safe way to explore submissiveness?

A safe way to explore submissiveness is to start slowly and communicate openly about boundaries, desires, and limits with a potential dominant partner. It is essential to establish trust before experimenting with submissive activities. Many people begin by reading about or discussing submission with others in the BDSM community, attending local munches or workshops, and connecting with mentors or experienced practitioners who can offer guidance and advice.

How can one identify as a sub in real-life scenarios?

One can identify as a sub in real-life scenarios by expressing their submissive desires and seeking opportunities to serve and please others, always within the context of consent and established boundaries. Some submissives wear symbols or indicators of their role, such as collars or specific types of jewelry, while others express their submission through the way they interact and communicate with their dominant partner. Disclosing one’s submissive nature should always be done with honesty, confidence, and consideration for the other person’s feelings and preferences. 

Last Updated on October 12, 2023

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