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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    exhilarating??? – Strawberry Aug 8 '17 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 Aug 9 '17 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 Aug 9 '17 at 8:52
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    For a masochist, "excruciating" already works! ;-) – David Richerby Aug 9 '17 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 Aug 10 '17 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 Aug 8 '17 at 15:32
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    If you can have exquisite pain, why not excruciating pleasure? – JAB Aug 8 '17 at 21:34
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    @JAB I'll have a cup of powerful tea and look it up on a strong computer. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 8 '17 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 Aug 11 '17 at 2:54
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    @JAB Pain may be considered an inherent component of "excruciating" because the term derives from crucifixion, a method of torture and execution. So "excruciating pain" may be considered redundant. However, I suppose the executioner may experience "excruciating pleasure". – xiota May 25 '18 at 2:45

characterized by or feeling intense excitement and happiness.

He felt euphoric pleasure.

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    Or even "He felt euphoria". – Richard Aug 8 '17 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 Aug 8 '17 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 Aug 10 '17 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" – Tim Sparkles Aug 10 '17 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 Aug 10 '17 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. – Sagar Upadhyay Aug 9 '17 at 10:22
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    That depends on your skill, Sagar.... – GreenAsJade Aug 9 '17 at 11:35
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    ... or your partner's. ;-) – mcalex Aug 9 '17 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."


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 Aug 10 '17 at 5:12


  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.


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 Aug 9 '17 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 Aug 9 '17 at 22:42

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