United Kingdom

Language expert reveals evolving sexuality terminology

From 'greysexual' to 'autosexual', language experts have broken down the terms used by Gen Z social media users to describe their sexuality. 

Speaking to FEMAIL, UK-based linguists from language learning app Babbel explained TikTok has aided the proliferation of an increasingly complex dictionary of words to describe an individual's sexual experience and preferences.

For example, 'omnisexual' is a term used to describe someone who can find themselves attracted to all people, regardless of their gender.

Meanwhile someone who is 'autosexual' is sexually attracted to themselves.  

Here, FEMAIL reveal the most popular sexuality terms young people are talking about on social media and the meaning behind them. 

From 'greysexual' to 'autosexual', language experts have broken down the terms used by Gen Z social media users to describe their sexuality. Stock image

AROMANTIC  

Aromantic is used to describe a person who experiences little or no romantic attraction to others. 

Aromantics are often satisfied with friendships and other non-romantic relationships (although they may experience sexual attraction and have sexual relationships). 

As with many terms for sexuality however, it’s actually a human experience that has existed over history long before its coining.  

How many young people in the UK identify as queer? Research reveals 50 per cent increase in recent years 

The proportion of young people in the UK identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual increased by an estimated 50 per cent in 2019, according to official data. 

Office for National Statistics numbers published showed 6.6 per cent of all 16 to 24 year-olds identified as LGB in 2019. 

That figure is up from the 4.4 per cent recorded in 2018. 

Young people were most likely to identify as LGB in 2019 but there was also an increase among older people aged 65 and over, from 0.7 per cent to one per cent. 

The ONS said an estimated 1.4million people aged 16 and over in the UK identified as LGB in 2019.

The stats body said that represented a 'statistically significant increase' from the 1.2million in 2018.  

The ONS data showed that an estimated 2.7 per cent of the UK population aged 16 and over identified as LGB in 2019, up from the 2.2 per cent in 2018. 

The number of men identifying as LGB increased from 2.5 per cent to 2.9 per cent, year on year, while for women it increased from two per cent to 2.5 per cent. 

The ONS said the proportion of the UK adult population identifying as heterosexual or straight decreased from 94.6 per cent in 2018 to 93.7 per cent in 2019. 

The proportion of people who identified as LGB increased in England and Scotland between 2018 and 2019, from 2.3 per cent to 2.7 per cent and from two per cent to 2.7 per cent respectively.

AUTOSEXUAL  

If you identify as autosexual, it means you feel a sense of sexual attraction toward yourself. 

While someone who is autosexual may feel aroused by looking at their own body or enjoy masturbating while thinking about themselves, they can also have meaningful sexual and romantic relationships with other people. 

Kourtney Kardashian came out as autosexual on ‘Pooch’ her lifestyle website in 2020 - and believes that everyone exists on the autosexual spectrum, according to the blog she used to announce her autosexuality.

ASEXUAL  

An asexual person is someone who does not feel sexual attraction to other people.

For asexuals, there is no intentional decision to abstain from sex, but instead a complete absence of desire to engage in sex. 

According to Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, asexuality exists on a spectrum and asexual people can experience varied levels of sexual attraction and romantic feelings. 

In the coming of age Nextflix series Sex Education, there is a specifc scene in which asexuality is openly discussed, helping the characters to feel less ‘broken’ in terms of their sexuality, having gauged an understanding of why they might not want to have sex. 

GREYSEXUALITY   

Also on the asexuality spectrum, is greysexuality; which refers to people who experience limited sexual attraction, very rarely or with a very low intensity. 

They may only feel sexual attraction in specific circumstances. Greysexual was coined in 2006 on the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN), the world's largest online asexual community and archive of resources on asexuality. 

Greysexuality stems from the idea that there is no black and white, but a ‘grey’ area that a lot of people fall into. 

OMNISEXUAL  

Omnisexual - which borrows its prefix from the latin ‘omni’, meaning ‘all’ - is a term used to describe someone who can find themselves attracted to all people, regardless of their gender. 

Often compared or mistaken for the more well-known pansexuality, omnisexual people can encounter misconceptions about their sexual identity. Lack of information is what may cause this confusion, which is a problem faced by all people who fall into the multisexual category. 

The main difference is that for those who identify as pansexual, gender tends not to be a determining factor for romantic or sexual attraction. Pansexuals can however be attracted to people of any gender. 

That being said, even though omnisexual people recognise the gender of those to whom they feel a romantic attraction, it doesn’t play a huge factor in their choice of partner. These distinctions are fluid and not cut and dried.

SAPIOSEXIAL  

‘Sapiosexual’ was coined in 1998 by LiveJournal writer Wolfieboy, to describe someone who was drawn to the specifics of a partner's mind rather than the specifics of a partner's body. 

Certain dating apps like OKCupid and Tinder allow users to identify as sapiosexual. 

Sapiosexual has become such a popular mainstream term due to filling a gap between the language we have available and the language needed to find a connection in the online dating realm. 

ALLOSEXUAL  

This sexuality describes people who experience sexual attraction in general and may have any sexual orientation. 

The word was specifically coined by the asexual community to help reduce the assumption that allosexuality is ‘normal’ or ‘default’ and asexuality is ‘abnormal’, or ‘other’.

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