Our fashion content writers are trying to choose the word that describes a fashion triend, but has the least sexual connotation. (Corset and bustier seem to be used interchangeably when it comes to fashion trends.)

Is there any evidence for one having a stronger sexual connotation over the other?

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    This might be closed as non-constructive, but I say bustier is the racier word. – cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 May 17 '12 at 21:21
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    @cornbreadninja I agree … but how might I make this a more constructive question? – Taj Moore May 17 '12 at 21:39
  • I'm not sure. I do want to ask, though... if the writers are trying to describe a the trend, why not do just that and avoid using corset or bustier at all? Why not describe the trend as streamlined curves or something? – cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 May 17 '12 at 21:44
  • They're looking for the keyword hits. – Taj Moore May 17 '12 at 21:52
  • Say no more! :) – cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 May 17 '12 at 21:54

I thought this was an interesting question, so I decided to do a GBT (Google blush test).

I ran three searches each, on the terms bustier and corset.

  • The first search was on Google Images.
  • The second search was on Google Images, with Safe Search off.
  • The third search was on Google Shopping.

The results were rather interesting. When I checked Google Images, the bustier pictures seemed a little bit racier, although the difference was only slight.

However, when I switched the search from Images to Shopping, the results were reversed. The sites from the corset search were packed with racy and tacky costumes (Wonder Woman, anyone?), while the bustier results revealed much more understated undergarments.

Hence, bustier might indeed be the "sexier" word, but that may not be the end of the story, particularly if an e-commerce site is trying to determine how to get keyword hits.

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    I like your methodology. Interesting results indeed. – John Y May 18 '12 at 3:45
  • NSFW though! :) – Andrew Leach May 18 '12 at 6:47

This is a beautifully subjective question, because everyone's answer is equally valid.

I think that bustier is a more sexually-charged word, because it includes "bust" and therefore draws attention to that area of the body. Corset doesn't have that; in fact the usual spelling of corset is almost a positive turn-off.

  • Sorry, I just misspelled it. Edited. – Taj Moore May 17 '12 at 21:42
  • @tajmo: OK. I don't think it changes the answer, though. – Andrew Leach May 17 '12 at 21:44

Corset is often used in a metaphorical sense to mean that something has been bound up so tight that it is difficult for it to move (or breathe). So of the two, I'd take that one out of the running. Bustier wins.

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