I was hoping for some help on this one. I'm looking for a word that carries all the connotations of "excruciating" (intense, prolonged, unbearable, torturous, etc) but relating to pleasure rather than pain.

I could potentially use "excruciating pleasure", applying it's lesser used meaning to imply "extreme/intense" - it might even be somewhat poetic, but there's an implication of masochism that doesn't really fit my narrative.

Any suggestions? I'm happy to to accept a clever protologism if no such word exists!

As an example:

The slow, seemingly endless mingling of their bodies was _______.

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    – Strawberry
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 16:57
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    An answer in latin language: Odi et amo. Quare id faciam nescio sed fieri sentio et excrucior.
    – Francesco
    Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 4:51
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    Not a word but I think an oxymoron would work very well in a literary context: The slow, seemingly endless mingling of their bodies was "excruciatingly pleasurable" (satisfying, sensual, etc.). Disclaimer: not a native English speaker, just trying to add some other (possibly unworkable or unwanted) choices.
    – armatita
    Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 8:52
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    For a masochist, "excruciating" already works! ;-) Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 18:20
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    Actually I've heard excruciating pleasure--it invokes the correct imagery...anyone would understand just what you meant.
    – Bill K
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 17:01

11 Answers 11


She experienced an exquisite pleasure.

exquisite adj.


  1. Intense; keen: exquisite delight; suffered exquisite pain.


The 'unbearable' flavour perhaps comes from the collocation 'exquisite pain', but the word is also used to describe pleasure.

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    This is the one. Or one of the few words anyhow.
    – Stilez
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 15:32
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    If you can have exquisite pain, why not excruciating pleasure?
    – JAB
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 21:34
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    @JAB I'll have a cup of powerful tea and look it up on a strong computer. Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 21:40
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    I've seen the two (exquisite pleasure and excruciating pain) explicitly juxtaposed a number of times, so this was the obvious one for my money
    – Glen_b
    Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 2:54
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    Be careful with this one - exquisite may technically work, but it is far more often associated with posh, refined items. (the phrase exquisite pleasure makes me think of a Ferrero Rocher advert)
    – user208769
    Commented Aug 13, 2017 at 16:07


characterized by or feeling intense excitement and happiness.


As in:

He felt euphoric pleasure.

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    Or even "He felt euphoria".
    – Richard
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 13:35
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    Not so much the same sense as the OP asked. Exquisite is the one here, euphoric conveys much closer to floating or bliss, the sensation in the OP is sharper, more direct/directed, overwhelming intensity, almost too much to bear. Euphoric doesn't have that sense at all.
    – Stilez
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 15:31


  1. of, relating to, or characterized by ecstasy or a state of sudden, intense, overpowering emotion: an ecstatic frenzy; ecstatic cheering for the winning team.
  2. subject to or in a state of ecstasy; full of joy; rapturous: They are absolutely ecstatic about their new baby.
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    Note: this word describes the person, not the experience. People are ecstatic, perhaps actions can be ecstatic through implication that those acting are ecstatic, but experiences are not. The slow, seemingly endless mingling of their bodies was ecstatic doesn't work. That doesn't make this answer wrong, but perhaps not what the asker is looking for.
    – ErikE
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 1:11
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    @ErikE Odd; I have always considered 'ecstasy' to be a noun of the category 'experience' so I would think the adjectival form could readily describe other experiences. Indeed, Google's definition has "2. involving an experience of mystic self-transcendence. an ecstatic vision" Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 23:21
  • @Timbo I can see what you mean, but visions don't possess ecstasy. Only humans do. So "ecstatic vision" is a shortcut indicating the experience of humans having the vision, but I still find it awkward. I don't see that an ecstatic mingling works so well. It may be an accepted, but still awkward shortcut.
    – ErikE
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 23:25

Orgasmic (Google Dictionary)

  1. relating to orgasm (of a person); able to achieve orgasm.

  2. Informal: very enjoyable or exciting: The album is an orgasmic whirl of techno soundscapes

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    However, orgasm is something momentary. It's never prolonged. Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 10:22
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    That depends on your skill, Sagar.... Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 11:35
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    ... or your partner's. ;-)
    – mcalex
    Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 13:58

A couple suggestions:






  1. causing strong feelings of excitement and happiness: an exhilarating helicopter trip

  2. producing or stimulating physical, mental, or emotional vigor

Some synonyms: vitalizing, cheering, exalting, enlivening, gladdening, bracing, energizing, intoxicating, invigorating, refreshing, reinvigorating, renewing, restorative, stimulating, tonic

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/exhilarating "Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014"



adjective sub·lime \sə-ˈblīm\

1c : tending to inspire awe usually because of elevated quality (as of beauty, nobility, or grandeur) or transcendent excellence

The slow, seemingly endless mingling of their bodies was sublime.

To me, a native English speaker, this word is more intense than exquisite, going beyond even the most utterly exquisite thing, actually transcending to some higher level. Of course, what it means to me may not be the same for others.

As an example contrasting the two:

"Sure, the song The Fleeing Alien is exquisite, but A Dance With Time and Space is just sublime."



  1. causing or capable of causing intoxication: intoxicating beverages.

  2. exhilarating; exciting: an intoxicating idea.

Can be used in a positive context in reference to pleasure.


Exquisite, orgasmic, fierce, ardent...

Another approach would be to characterize the pleasure in a more abstract way - "boiling, bubbling pleasure" or "searing pleasure," for example, are intriguing in a positive way but could also be associated with intense, torturous sensations.

  • How does "fierce" relate to prolonged pleasure? Moreover, the terms "exquisite and "orgasmic" had already been suggested when you posted your answer.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 5:12

I would add a little to this. "The slow, seemingly endless mingling of their bodies was exquisitely prolonged."

Or, if I can take the liberty to expand on it somewhat: "The slow, seemingly endless mingling of their bodies kept them on the excruciating edge of ecstasy; until, after what seemed to be an eternity, they both exploded in an intense and shared climax." You can of course expand further.


Personally, I would use the word "euphoric." It was the first thing that came to my mind whenever I saw this question.

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    It was also the first word that came to @pyro's mind too, sometime yesterday. Please check all the answers before posting your suggestion. The downvote is for lack of references and supporting evidence.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 18:58
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    Hi @korrinab, I see you're new here. I suggest you take the site tour as this site is a Q&A site, a bit different from the typical forums you might be used to. The sarcasm isn't really necessary as this is a community-moderated site. No "police." Please have a look at the tour page, will you? :)
    – Wildcard
    Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 22:42

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