Kink vs. Fetish: What's the Difference?

by Jess

on 10 Nov 2017

What's the difference between a kink and a fetish? Aren't they the same thing? Well actually, no.

I remember reading somewhere that a "kink" is like salt, while a "fetish" is like the main meal itself.

What do I mean by that, and why are these meanings so tricky to grasp? Don't worry, I'll elaborate.

Firstly the English language is hella confusing and contains dozens of words which have several meanings.

Secondly, over the years, people have used words like "fetish" and "kink" interchangeably, which over time muddies the waters when it comes to their true meaning.

Why is it important to know the difference?

Because a partner with a fetish vs a partner with a kink are very different, and knowing what they mean can really help you communicate properly.

Read on to learn what "Fetish" and "Kink" really mean...

Let's start at the beginning (a very good place to start)

As I said earlier, words like "kink" and "fetish" often get used interchangeably, and it's easy to see why. They mean very similar things. After all, a fetish is often kinky, and kink can become a fetish. Confused yet? Us too.

In order to truly understand the meanings of these words, we need to look at their history (aka the etymology).

So the orignal dictionary definitions for these words are as follows:

  1. Kink:

    • Definition (noun): A sharp twist or curve in something that is otherwise straight. A quirk of character.
    • Synonyms: bend, twist, distort, crook, quirk
  2. Fetish:

    • Definition (noun): An object worshipped for its supposed magic powers or because it's believed to be inhabited by a spirit.
    • Synonyms: charm, amulet, talisman, totem, object of worship

But how does that help me understand kinky sex?

Well, the interesting thing is that, although the above definitions aren't the ones you expected to read, they're not all that different from their sex-based meanings. Let me explain.

Generally speaking, in the sex world:

  • a "kink" is something which turns us on, and is a deviation on the predetermined sexual "norm"*
  • a "fetish" is a sexual act/object which holds great power over the fetishist's ability to reach resolution

See the similarities between the original meanings, and their more modern, sex-based counterparts?

In more straightforward language (and reusing the salt/main meal analogy again):

  • For a person who's "kinky", sex can be enjoyed with or without their kink (the same way a meal can be eaten with or without salt).
  • For a person with a fetish, their fetish IS the sex (aka the main meal). No matter how kinky play gets, if their personal fetish isn't involved, there's a good chance they won't feel fully satisfied by the end.

Hopefully this blog has helped you get your head around the differences between kinky sex, and fetish fun.

Remember, if someone asks you to try something sexually but you don't fully understand what it means, always ask. And if you're the one asking to try something new, make sure you explain in no uncertain terms what it is you want from your partner.

And finally, always be open-minded and never "yuck" someone's "yum". There's a good chance you're already having kinkier sex than you realise! (See footnotes).

By *"the predetermined sexual norm" we mean what your nan might think of sex - two cis-gender, opposite-sex, married people for procreation. That means that ALL sex for pleasure is technically kinky... You cheeky devil you!

Must-have kinky accessories

  1. Fifty Shades Freed Want to Play? 10m Silky Rope


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  2. Fifty Shades Freed Cherished Collection Feather Tickler

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  3. Fifty Shades Freed All Sensation Nipple and Clitoral Chain

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    Though they might look a little scary, these combined clit and nipple clamps are fully adjustable to give either a gentle pinch, or a firm squeeze.

  4. Fifty Shades Freed Cherished Collection Leather Wrist Cuffs

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    No BDSM collection is complete without a sturdy pair of cuffs, and these padded leather restraints are super comfy to boot.

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Written by Jess.

Originally published on 10 Nov 2017. Updated on 5 Aug 2020