Closest words that come to mind are: pleasing or pleasuring, but somehow these don't catch the meaning.

Do you guys know any other words?


"I often thought about what I felt. If I were to use a single word to describe it, it would be ______, but essentially I made love to him not because I enjoyed it, quite the contrary, I did it because I cared about him and wanted him to have a good time even though I didn't like it."

It could be a noun such as sacrifice for example.

  • Do you really mean a noun? Could you create a sentence with a blank, please? (See our help text for single-word-requests, particularly the checklist at the bottom)
    – Andrew Leach
    Apr 22, 2019 at 15:26
  • "I often thought about what I felt. If I were to use a single word to describe it it would be ___, but essentially I made love to him not because I enjoyed it, quite the contrary, I did it because I cared about him and wanted him to have a good time even though I didn't like it."
    – marcel_pi
    Apr 22, 2019 at 15:34
  • Please edit your question. However your blank suggests an adjective or adverb to me.
    – Andrew Leach
    Apr 22, 2019 at 15:36
  • 1
    It could be a noun such as Sacrifice for example.
    – marcel_pi
    Apr 22, 2019 at 15:39
  • 1
    Humouring? But I don't think there is any single word that encompasses all of the meanings you want to assign to it. Apr 22, 2019 at 15:48

7 Answers 7


I'd suggest selfless.

From the Cambridge dictionary:

caring more about other people’s needs and interests than about your own:

  • This word is too general. Apr 25, 2019 at 8:18

There used to be a time when English virgins who were about to embark on their first sexual journey–on the eve of their wedding night–were given this piece of homely advice

close one's eyes and think of England

also known as

lie back and think of England

It's definitely outdated and I'm not sure if anyone nowadays offers this advice to anyone who is sexually inexperienced or dislikes making love. But the sentiment behind it is similar to the one described by the OP. Bite your lower lip, don't think about what is happening (shudder), just endure it until the act is over. Unfortunately, it's not the single word requested by the OP but most native people would understand its meaning,

Wiktionary says

Supposedly advice given to women whose husbands were soon to attempt to have sexual intercourse with them, encouraging them to think of how beneficial children (who could grow up to be soldiers, sailors, merchants, etc.) were to England.

TV Tropes elucidates

It's possible the phrase was invented as a joke on the assumption that Victorian and Edwardian ladies were prudish in the extreme. Keep in mind, though, that in this time period it wasn't unheard of for a woman of a high class to have to choose between marrying a strange man many years her senior who had no interest in pleasing her, and suffering serious societal repercussions including being possibly left penniless when her parents died. In other words, lying back and thinking of England may have been the best of bad options.

It has been attributed to Queen Victoria but the author of The Phrase Finder soundly rebukes this theory

'Lie back and think of England', or as it is more often expressed these days 'close your eyes and think of England', was used in two contexts. Firstly, it was, or later dramas have portrayed that it was, advice given by a mother to her daughter on her wedding night. Sex education wasn't all that it might have been in the early 20th century.

The other context is of advice given by a woman friend to a loveless wife. Marriage was a route to economic security for women in Edwardian England and many must have seen the granting of sexual favours as an unwelcome price to pay for it.

The expression is sometimes attributed to Queen Victoria […]
There's no evidence that Queen Victoria ever uttered the phrase and circumstantial evidence points entirely the other way as she loved her husband deeply, was an enthusiastic sexual partner and the couple had nine children.

In the OP's sample sentence, it wouldn't sound out of place

"I often thought about what I felt. If I were to use an expression to describe it, it would be close one's eyes and think of England, but essentially I made love to him not because I enjoyed it, quite the contrary, I did it because I cared about him and wanted him to have a good time even though I didn't like it."

  • 2
    This quote is outdated and very specific to U.K. It is rarely used these days and If it is used, then it is used in humorous sense. Also, its origin is unknown. Secondly, Mari-Lou I am at least allowed to answer. Even if, it is an obscure word. And, I don't understand, what do you mean by saying that "I'm getting defensive"? My comments are very light hearted. Is it prohibitive to answer here on SE.eng precise words, if they are difficult? OP should at least know that certain word exist. I have 4 up-votes (and 2 DVs). So, at least 4 people agree with me. I found your comment very offensive.
    – Ubi.B
    Apr 23, 2019 at 12:49
  • @Ubihatt you can flag my comment to the mods. It will probably get deleted.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 23, 2019 at 13:00
  • 2
    @Ubihatt why does the fact its origin is uncertain or contested make any difference? The phrase is listed in all good online dictionaries, and its meaning is clear. The American website site TV Tropes, which I provided a link to, suggests that some Americans are familiar with its meaning. But I agree it is outdated, and I said so in my answer.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 23, 2019 at 13:05


BrE-- the denial of one's own interests in favour of the interests of others
AmE--lack of consideration for oneself or one's own interest; self-denial


A person who is self-abnegating usually places their own needs and desires secondary to another's, usually family.

The Pelican is sometimes considered a symbol of this kind of self-sacrifice.

In ancient Europe it was believed that the pelican would cut its breast open with its beak and feed its young with its own blood if there was not enough food, even though pelicans don’t actually do that. Some even believed that the pelican had the power to bring its dead young back to life by giving them its blood.[...] Because of that belief, the pelican became a major symbol of self-sacrifice and charity. Early Christians had adopted it by the 2nd century and started using it in texts and images, making it a very special bird.

-The Westologist


You could try giving

Defined by Collins Dictionary as:

affectionate and generous where one's feelings are concerned
I'm not at all sure how to be a devoted, loving, endlessly giving mother - or even whether I want to be!


The second definition here may fit your needs (from Google dictionary). As a noun accommodation works.

ac·com·mo·date /əˈkäməˌdāt/ verb 1. (of physical space, especially a building) provide lodging or sufficient space for. "the cabins accommodate up to 6 people" synonyms: lodge, house, put up, billet, quarter, board, take in, provide shelter for, shelter, give a bed to, give someone a roof over their head, provide a roof over someone's head, harbor, make room for, give accommodation to, provide with accommodation, provide accommodation for More 2. fit in with the wishes or needs of. "any language must accommodate new concepts" synonyms: help, fit in with, allow for, assist, aid, lend a hand to, oblige, serve, do someone a service, meet the needs/wants of, do someone a good turn, favor, do someone a favor, cater for, indulge, pander to, humor, gratify, satisfy "the company altered the launch date in order to accommodate a major customer"


Gratification - https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gratification:

the act of gratifying

Gratifying - https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gratifying:

giving pleasure or satisfaction

And if you don't insist on a single word:

giving satisfaction

marital duties https://www.yourdictionary.com/marital-duties

(euphemistic) The duty to be available to one's spouse for sexual intercourse.


The word you are looking is acokoinonia.

Sex without passion or desire.

In 1967, J.E. Schmidt ( Lecher's Lexicon ) (1967) defined this word as sexual intercourse: ' not accompanied by or the result of sexual desire. The condition is common in women whose passive attitude in the act of intercourse does not make desire mandatory'.

And, if your relationship is of a type when one partner is more interested in sex than the other, their relationship is imparlibidinous.

Your sentence,

"I often thought about what I felt. If I were to use a single word to describe it, it would be acokoinonia, but essentially I made love to him not because I enjoyed it, quite the contrary, I did it because I cared about him and wanted him to have a good time even though I didn't like it."

  • 4
    There is the slight problem OP presumably wants to know the word so that they can effectively communicate this idea to people, and this word is far too obscure for it to communicate what's intended (or, indeed, anything at all) to the overwhelming majority of English speakers.
    – Chris H
    Apr 23, 2019 at 8:23
  • 3
    @ChrisH do you mean to say that obscure words are used by non-English speaker :) ? I had a word in my arsenal, so I suggested. If the suggested word is out of context then it tantamount to disagreement. Suggesting a contextual rare, obscure, obsolete, archaic, historical etc. exact words should not be a problem, right? OP have few other options and they are free to choose. At least, OP will know that certain word exist. Good day!
    – Ubi.B
    Apr 23, 2019 at 8:57
  • 3
    No, I mean this particular word is known to almost nobody. That it's meaningless to non-English speakers goes without saying and also applies to the other (far more helpful) answers. I'm not saying your answer is wrong, I'm just saying that it's not likely to be useful. That's why I'm downvoting - "this answer is not useful" is literally the tooltip for the downvote button, and I don't see how a word that's incredibly unlikely to actually be understood can be considered a useful answer.
    – Chris H
    Apr 23, 2019 at 9:08
  • 1
    -1 I agree with Chris H's observation. The terms acokoinonia and imparlibidinous are so obscure to be of little use to the OP. I wouldn't even know how to begin to pronounce acokoinonia.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 23, 2019 at 12:54
  • 2
    The word acokoinonia is not found in any standard online dictionary, and your other word imparlibidinous only appears in two online dictionaries, neither of which I would rely on. So even if these obscure words actually exist in the OED, they're virtually useless in terms of communicating a concept. -1. Apr 24, 2019 at 8:23

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