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I am basically writing an intercourse scene between two characters in a medieval-like setting, so the tone of the book is slightly medieval as well. Now, while I have found plenty of synonyms for the male body parts, I'm having difficulties with the female ones. For some reason, all synonyms in the English language for "vagina" sound rather off-putting.

I cannot use "vulva" because it sounds too clinical (same with "vagina"). "Womb" makes me think of motherhood (which is the last thing I want to come to the readers' minds while reading these scenes) or animals. "Gash" sounds like it would be better used to describe flesh wounds. "Hole" sounds very ominous and generic. Other words like "pussy" or "c*nt" are too slang-ish, even offensive. And euphemism like "love cave" or "Cupid's hole" or anything along those lines sound very childish and even humorous. I was considering "slit" for a while but even that brings slang to mind. I was even considering some sort of milder euphemisms, such as "the wetness between her thighs" but they have already been used in other similar works so I'd rather not.

Just to clarify, I don't need a synonym for a particular part of the female genitalia, just for it as a whole. Any suggestions?

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    What research have you done, and what have you learned? Oh, hang on, err... – JHCL Oct 10 '15 at 16:39
  • Why don't you look through scripts of TV shows such as "Rome", "the Tudors", "the Borgias", "the Spartacus", etc. The words you are looking for are there. Believe me! – user140086 Oct 10 '15 at 16:46
  • For a medieval novel, hymen is a possibility, even if anatomically it is a perforated membrane that may cover or partly cover the entrance to the vagina. You may also envisage "matrix", quite a womb synonym. – Graffito Oct 10 '15 at 19:10
  • Probably "beaver" deserves mention. – Hot Licks Oct 10 '15 at 20:49
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    Please accept the answer that helped you the most. You're not obliged to but I am curious :) Click on the greyed check mark underneath the bottom arrow, to accept an answer. – Mari-Lou A Oct 12 '15 at 8:24
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You might try an authentically medieval English word or two. Chaucer’s Wife of Bath boasts of her own at line 608 of her Prologue:

I hadde the beste quoniam myghte be.

Elsewhere (e.g., Merchant's Tale, line 2061), Chaucer quibbles on queynte as (a) curious, odd, arcane, and (b) female pudendum (cognate with cunt); at Miller’s Tale 3276–77 he uses these two meanings separately, rhyming the word with itself. Queynt is also a variant reading for quoniam or quonyam in the Wife of Bath’s boast.

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  • Oh yeah, I keep forgetting that Chaucer wrote quite a bit of sex scenes, should have looked into that sooner :P Thanks for bringing him up. – Feidhelm Oct 10 '15 at 20:07
  • That makes me wonder: What is the relation to the biblical beati pauperes spiritu quoniam ipsorum est regnum caelorum where it means "because"? – Hagen von Eitzen Oct 10 '15 at 20:31
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    Per OED s.v. quoniam, "This use of Latin quoniam may originate in a punning reference to the first line of Psalm 146: Laudate Dominum, quoniam bonus est psalmus ‘Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God’ (R. S. V.), although this is far from certain." – Brian Donovan Oct 10 '15 at 20:55
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Many sources (e.g., here) argue a tight connection between visual similarity of various foods to genitals and the aphrodisiac effect thereof; some even claim that the visual similarity sourced the popular belief in the effect.

One of the most notorious examples is the oyster: across ages and cultures, it is believed to be an aphrodisiac, among other things, because of the visual resemblance and the many alluring connotations of the shell.

This must have been on Shakespeare's mind, too, I think, when he cheerily put

Why, then the world ’s mine oyster,
Which I with sword will open.

into The Merry Wives of Windsor.

By the way, a feminist view of why it is awkward to find just the right term for an occasion is offered here. Further inspiration might be found there, too. Muff, for example, appears to be attested from the 1690s. Not mediaeval, of course, but still with a reputable history.

I do hope I got the gist of the question right. When saying female reproductive organs, you weren't thinking about the ovaries, were you?

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    Analog to oyster: conch – Graffito Oct 10 '15 at 19:40
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    Oh my gosh that article was a really good read, thanks for sharing it, and for the suggestions as well! – Feidhelm Oct 10 '15 at 20:36
  • I suppose the fact that vanilla means ‘little vagina’ is relevant to this (though it’s not really a direct link between female genitals and food, but both of them being shaped like a sheath). – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 24 '17 at 14:22
  • @Janus It seems to answer the case (shape, aphrodisiac...) but it might take some writing skill to make readers take the hint if used as a metaphor in the sense required here, I think. – anemone Jan 25 '17 at 20:48
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Fear not using the word cunt, since it was not considered taboo in public speech until 15c.

cunt (n.) "female intercrural foramen," or, as some 18c. writers refer to it, "the monosyllable," Middle English cunte "female genitalia," by early 14c. (in Hendyng's "Proverbs" -- ʒeve þi cunte to cunni[n]g, And crave affetir wedding), akin to Old Norse kunta, Old Frisian, Middle Dutch, and Middle Low German kunte, from Proto-Germanic *kunton, which is of uncertain origin. Some suggest a link with Latin cuneus "wedge," others to PIE root *geu- "hollow place," still others to PIE *gwen-, root of queen and Greek gyne "woman."

The form is similar to Latin cunnus "female pudenda" (also, vulgarly, "a woman"), which is likewise of disputed origin, perhaps literally "gash, slit," from PIE *sker- (1) "to cut," or literally "sheath," from PIE *kut-no-, from root *(s)keu- "to conceal, hide." Hec vulva: a cunt. Hic cunnus: idem est. [from Londesborough Illustrated Nominale, c. 1500, in "Anglo-Saxon and Old English Vocabularies," eds. Wright and Wülcker, vol. 1, 1884] First known reference in English apparently is in a compound, Oxford street name Gropecuntlane cited from c. 1230 (and attested through late 14c.) in "Place-Names of Oxfordshire" (Gelling & Stenton, 1953), presumably a haunt of prostitutes. Used in medical writing c. 1400, but avoided in public speech since 15c.; considered obscene since 17c.

Etymonline

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If you are looking for a word that is neither too clinical nor too raunchy, the word sex can be used as a euphemism for genitals, male or female. Womanhood can be used if you want something specifically feminine. Both of these are often used in the more explicit kinds of romantic fiction.

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A common mediterranean euphemism is fig; a pretty mild term, not particularly vulgar, but at the same time quite graphic and easily understood.

  1. The female genitalia. The fig was, in ancient Greece, a euphemism for the vagina; the fig also reminds us of the bible and Adam and Eve dressed in fig leaves in the Garden of Eden; the forbidden fruit is believed to have been a fig, not an apple. Figs , the testicles. In nothing but a fig leaf , naked. In ancient Dionysian festivals, however, the fig symbolized both the penis and the vagina.
    (TFD)

Groin a term which is still used today and won't have your average reader searching for their dictionary. The word is derived from the Middle English grynde (1400), and it is used euphemistically to mean the genitals especially men's testicles, but not exclusively.

Another modern euphemistic term, which has an unsuspecting long history, is private parts it evolved from the sixteenth-century privy parts, Middle English privy member, and 13th century privy chose, the word chose being French for thing.

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  • Don't be fooled, Medieval England was just as slutty, if not more so than in the 21st century :) – Mari-Lou A Oct 10 '15 at 17:58
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    Nice girls like you shouldn't know about things like this! – WS2 Oct 10 '15 at 18:12
  • Related because the question is about the Old English word for the fruit medlar, which was simply called "open-arse" otherwise spelt as openærs english.stackexchange.com/questions/244408/… – Mari-Lou A Oct 10 '15 at 19:16
  • @WS2 — I am no feminist and would never castrate the English language with "gender-neutral" neologisms, for example, but someone has to tell you that your comment is completely out of order. You are not commenting on what Mari-Lou A wrote, but the fact that an answer about the names of female genitalia is made by a woman. Now I see that both of you have been on this list a long time and it may be that she will not find the remark offensive, but any other female list member would be justified in doing so and be discouraged from posting. An apology and withdrawal is in order. – David Jan 27 '17 at 9:33
  • @David I was not offended in the slightest, it's only a joke. I'm 50 years old, calling me a girl was actually quite sweet. We can still joke about our genders and stereotypes, can't we? – Mari-Lou A Jan 27 '17 at 9:37
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Shakespeare uses "nothing" as a pun. ("Her nothing", etc.) I won't go grab the exact verses, but you can do so easily. If you want to be strictly Medieval, you'd have to consider whether this might fit.

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Quim from 1735 era, should work for your book. It also sounds soft and feminine.

ODO defines it as

(British, vulgar slang) A woman's genitals.

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What about something multifaceted like “her host?” This seems to take into account the physiological, alimentary, religious, social, etc. aspects of the female sexual organ.

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You could put a spin on 'Never regions'

Nether region may refer to: Hell, the Underworld, or any place of darkness or eternal suffering. Subterranea (geography) Euphemism or slang for the buttocks, groin and genitals of human body, separately or collectively.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nether_region

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