To sext, (usually as noun sexting) refers to:

  • sending (someone) sexually explicit photographs or messages via mobile phone:
  • Its earliest usage appears to be from 2005, thought other sources cite a later date.


  • by 2005, from contraction of sex (n.) + text (v.). Etymonline


  • the sending of sexually explicit messages or images by cell phone, blend of sex and texting. First Known Use: 2007. - M-W

According to Wikipedia:

  • The first published use of the term sexting was in a 2005 article in the Australian Sunday Telegraph Magazine.The Pew Research Center commissioned a study on sexting.


1) Was the term first used and coined in Australia, or was it already used in the USA when The Pew Research Center (an American think tank based in Washington, D.C.)) commissioned the study?

2) When and by whom was the term sext/sexting first used?


3 Answers 3


The OED entry would suggest that it originated in Australia. At least, that is the first example they have.

The action or practice of sending or exchanging sexually explicit or suggestive messages or images electronically, esp. using a mobile phone. Cf. sext n.2

2005 Daily Tel. (Austral.) 2 July 87/3 A telling aspect of his sexual farragos is the use of his mobile for sexting (texting).

2009 Tennessean (Electronic ed.) 4 Jan. [She] didn't come across ‘sexting’ until college.

2011 S. Petrow Compl. Gay & Lesbian Manners x. 265 People caught up in the sexting frenzy of late may well be chagrined in the future to find out how widely these photos are distributed.

2013 Wall St. Jrnl. (Electronic ed.) 24 Aug. a13 He regretted not publicly disclosing that his sexting went on for months after he resigned.

  • Thanks for citing the OED, it confirms what Wikipedia says. I wonder if the American think tank actually used the term first when the report was commissioned.
    – user66974
    Feb 1, 2016 at 18:53
  • 2
    @Josh61 - highly doubtful. They had to have used an existing well-known term. I’m surprised we’re talking about 2005 here. I’m sure I heard of this before then (in the US) but I don’t have any evidence.
    – Jim
    Feb 1, 2016 at 23:00

That is just the first instance of the word in a print publication. The first use of the word likely happened years before that.

I don’t think you have any evidence at this point for what country it started in. The Australian article reads like they are using a common term, not coining the phrase or celebrating its novelty.

The best bet is to try and get in touch with the author of the Australian article and ask them where they got the word.

  • I think the term was passed to Sunday Telegraph by the American Pew Research Center , and that it was in use in the USA before that date. It is strange there is no evidence of earlier usage in print.
    – user66974
    Feb 4, 2016 at 20:07

In the March 4th 2005 movie Be Cool, during a dance scene, the Black Eyed Peas are preforming and there is line in their song with the words "texting, and sexting me".

  • 1
    Welcome to ELU. This has the potential to be a useful addition, but the downvote indicates it needs more. Are The Black Eyed Peas Australian? If not, then it may be evidence that the term did not originate there. [NB: Yes, I know the answer to my question; it's a pointer.]
    – Andrew Leach
    Oct 30, 2016 at 9:19

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