May 9, 2005

petting poll

My friends and I somehow got into a long discussion about the old-school sexual term: "petting." And we came to the conclusion that we really have no idea what it means.

Obviously it involves some form of touching, but beyond that, we're stumped. And when the hell does petting turn into the even more curious "heavy petting?"

Is stroking a girl's hair "petting?" Is "petting" over the clothes and "heavy petting" under the clothes? Does it become "heavy" when it's done with more pressure and/or lust? Or maybe it's only "heavy" when it occurs below the waist?

Since this is an old outmoded phrase, here's what I'd like to do: In addition to whatever thoughts you have about this-- Ask your parents, grandparents or any other cute old people in your life you feel comfortable with, just exactly what "petting" and "heavy petting" meant to them back in the day. I'll ask my folks too, and then we'll compare notes.

And just for fun, try to include the age of the person you asked, along with their exact thoughts on this important subject. (I doubt this term is international, but I guess we'll find out.) The comment board is now closed.

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Posted by Steven | Archive

Ok, I tried to post an answer but it won't let it through due to "questionable content" no matter how hard I try to avoid using dodgy more try - I believe it to refer to below the belt stimulation and somehow associate it with a boy doing it to a girl more than the other way around (but that might just be me).
I am 25 and went to Catholic school in Ireland.

Posted by: Majella at May 9, 2005 6:34 AM

I beleive the use of this term must vary with location, as since i have moved from the great city of Sunderland to the Wee vilage of Newcastle (NE of England) i've been hearing it a lot.

Posted by: Iamthesonofgoo at May 9, 2005 6:55 AM

Good luck trying to get the old people to define petting. As a teenager, I asked everyone I felt comfortable asking what *exactly* petting was, and the answer I invariably got was "petting is wrong, don't do it." Well, yeah, but that wasn't very helpful.

Near as I can tell, though, petting is sexual touching of the body below the neck ("necking" being sexual touching from the neck up), and heavy petting is petting on bare skin, usually underneath clothing.

Posted by: Wacky Hermit at May 9, 2005 6:58 AM

Yes Steven, the term "petting" is international. I'm from Malaysia and the term was pretty common when I went to high school (early '90s); I think the kids used the word to mean touching each others' private parts but with clothes on (I could be wrong!). I however used to think that it meant mutual masturbation, but hey. Whatever gets you off.

Posted by: Fepi at May 9, 2005 7:16 AM

I think petting and heavy-petting are the same thing and encompass a whole smorgasboard of naughty sexual delight. I knew a guy once who was big into WWJD bracelets and he informed me that "any sort of petting in the bikini area is a sin". Apparently this means anything that either the top or bottom of a bikini would cover. What a prude.
Check out this 80s metal band from the UK, aptly named Heavy Pettin'. Maybe they know the true meaning...

Posted by: Austin G at May 9, 2005 7:21 AM

my grandma told me that petting was rubbing the chest and breasts, while heavy petting was rubbing the clint or the head of the dick for the purpose of causing an orgasm
she is 91

and i didn't know that

Posted by: pat at May 9, 2005 7:59 AM

Obviously, somebody has to mention the clever yet oh-so-disturbing album cover for NOFX's 'Heavy Petting Zoo'. Try a google image search:

Posted by: Dan McCormack at May 9, 2005 8:22 AM

As far as I can recall, "petting" was a term used only by TV psychologists and teen magazines.

We called it "cheesing the scruffy" and "be-boppin' Lula".

Posted by: Layne at May 9, 2005 8:28 AM

Petting is to some extent internationalized since the exact word has been imported into the swedish language. The swedish national encyclopedia ( although subscriber based) list petting and the describes it as making out when the risk of pregnancy put sex out of the picture.. kind of a diet-sex low-fat version.

Posted by: dege at May 9, 2005 8:43 AM

Heavy petting could be considered touching anywhere without penetration anywhere. So zero sex, be it anal, oral, or vaginal, and no fingering. Just good old fashioned touchy-touchy.

Side note, there is a company called Heavy Petting Corp.

They sell dog mitts. Woof!

Posted by: Mikey at May 9, 2005 9:04 AM

OK, I always thought petting was just feeling the boobies over the bra and heavy petting was going south. I asked my 63 year old mom who I think was the petting queen in her day and she said that only boys did the petting (with girls being the helpless victim, no doubt). Regular petting is on top of the clothes and heavy petting required open blouses and zippers. Mom said she never touched Mr. Wigglesworth in a car. Dad said she couldn't keep her hands out of his pants. I'm thinking mommy was a teenage ho.
As a side bar- What ever happened to those big 'ol monster hickeys everyone sported when I was a kid. Remember, it branded all the guys wearing one as studs and the girls as easy to bed sluts?
Are kids too sofisticated for that kind of thing today? I thnk it is a lost art that should be brought back into mainstream pubescience. Maybe I'll throw one on my wife when she is asleep tonight.

Posted by: Kevin at May 9, 2005 9:35 AM

My Auntie Janet once told me "There's no use getting into heavy petting--it only leads to trouble, wetting".

In my day, petting was the intimate sort of touching through the clothes, and heavy petting was the same, but under the clothes.

Posted by: LL Locke at May 9, 2005 9:54 AM

Sorry, a little off topic... but Hickeys? are you kidding?
What? Are you dating a vacuum... or some kind of wanna be vampire?

Posted by: Jen at May 9, 2005 10:06 AM

For "HEAVY PETTING", gives us:
foreplay ranging from breast massage to masturbating one's partner, yet no coïtal contact. mentions, under "petting":
In the latter case the term often has a sexual connotation, eg. 'heavy petting' (mutual masturbation) or the American phrase 'making out'.

This web search proves, conclusively, that there is no topic that can't be effectively geeked up.

Posted by: Ethan at May 9, 2005 10:16 AM

IIRC, in the words of Richard O'Brian:

I thought there's no use getting
Into heavy petting
It only leads to trouble and
Seat wetting

(From The Rocky Horror Picture Show)

Posted by: Stefan Tilkov at May 9, 2005 10:49 AM

Well, it so happens my grandma called me about an hour after I read this post.

She's 68 I believe.

I asked her what it meant, if she'd heard it before and she was quiet for a second and said,

"Touching in inappropriate ways." Then she go quiet and changed the subject.

I go to a Christian universtiy where petting of any sort is highly discouraged, so I have also had many conversations late into the morn about the exact meaning of petting.

We define it by "scrumping", which is the nice, Christian way of saying dry-humping.

But now that I think of it, our rulebook only outlaws "heavy" petting, but not regular petting? So can I grope my girlfriend on campus as long as we're not scrumping?


Posted by: Tevin at May 9, 2005 10:50 AM

My 63 year old respondent thinks the name came from the man carressing the hair of the woman while lightly kissing her neck.

The younger demographics I asked offered less refined answers:



Posted by: Uncle Horns at May 9, 2005 10:51 AM

NW Ohio must be full of vulgar people -- never actually heard the term used, we just come out and say what we're doing.

Posted by: red_beard_neo at May 9, 2005 11:39 AM

Until I was embarrassingly old, I thought it was a word made up by the owners of swimming pools (since I only ever saw it written on those tacky 'NO RUNNING/BOMBING/DUCKING/PETTING' signs in public baths), and that, as such, getting off with someone only qualified as 'petting' when you were in the shallow end of your local.

Even more embarrassingly, I thought 'heavy petting' might've been reserved for the deep end.

I'm a man of the world. Honest.

ps - your blog's nanny seems to think 'co dot uk' qualifies as 'questionable content'. Good job I didn't register my website in the Cook Islands - it might've exploded... ;]

Posted by: grey kid at May 9, 2005 11:50 AM

Guffaw. I'll ask my ultra hip grandmother today... I know she'll answer. I'm also a bit befuddled by "necking." It sounds so creepy.

Posted by: rebecca marie at May 9, 2005 12:02 PM

I don't need to ask anybody, because this is an easy one. "Petting" is touching in a way that is at least somewhat sexual. Guy stroking girl's hair... not really "petting." Guy squeezing girl's boob... petting. "Heavy petting" would be any sort of sexual touching below the waist. The lightest of petting would be a guy touching a girl's boobs over her shirt or bra. The heaviest of petting would be a handjob or a lovely finger-bang. Anything beyond that is past "petting" and straight into SEX. (I'm 38)

Posted by: Dan at May 9, 2005 12:05 PM

Not petting but hickeys

My daughter (5 and one quarter as she says) gave herself a hickey on each bicep one day as she was laying on the couch daydreaming. She made the first one and looked in the mirror and made the second one so they'd match. Then they started hurting, and she started crying, and she put ice cubes on them to dull the pain and now we have a NO HICKEY rule in our house...whether you do them to yourself or someone else!

Posted by: Mark at May 9, 2005 12:24 PM

All this talk about mutual masterbation makes me wonder...

If heavy petting is basically mutual masterbation, then what about gay sex? I'm gay and don't see my version of sex as mere heavy petting.

So, if we are creating a new definition, can we add "between a man and a woman" to it? :)

Posted by: Stacia at May 9, 2005 12:27 PM

I fixed the issue. Thanks for the heads up. I'll post my father's response later. It was awkward and hilarious.

Posted by: Steve at May 9, 2005 12:30 PM

"my grandma told me that petting was rubbing the chest and breasts, while heavy petting was rubbing the clint or the head of the dick for the purpose of causing an orgasm
she is 91"

Eesh, if my 91 year old grandmother said anything to that degree, I would probably go ingest lye. The topic seems well covered, so I won't add anything new to the pot, other then the fact that I agree with the person with the dictionary :P

Posted by: Matt at May 9, 2005 12:40 PM

lol! Matt, that was funny!

Posted by: LL Locke at May 9, 2005 12:43 PM

BTW, Stephan Tilkov, IIRC, my Auntie Janet says and does crazy stuff all the time. She is the black sheep of the family, and at one time claimed to have been impregnated by someone from another planet. Oddly enough, she didn't start saying that until AFTER her Shock Treatment...


Posted by: LL Locke at May 9, 2005 12:50 PM

My highschool girlfriend and I always used to get accused of "necking". Now this was a Cherry Creek School (yes, that's right, same district as Columbine), and we wouldn't even have to be kissing eachothers' necks. But, what they should have said, is that we were petting, this meaning the rubbing of one's body against another (regardless of sex). "Heavy Petting", I would guess, is (as you said Steve) a more passionate (perhaps below the exterior clothing, but not beneith the undergarments) display of this affection. Those are my two cents, anyway.

Posted by: Anonymous at May 9, 2005 1:54 PM

Okay, now we need a definition for "rubbing the clint".

Posted by: Keith at May 9, 2005 1:54 PM

I remember coming home from school one day (I think I was in 5th grade) and telling my Mom that there was a petting zoo at school.... initially, she was alarmed.

I think I'll call her tonight and tell her I went to a petting zoo today where I was petting "clint." I hope she'll be ok.

Posted by: momsoops at May 9, 2005 2:12 PM

Petting is defintiely an Americanism - nobody used it when I was a kid a long time ago. I have always taken it to mean touching over clothes, heavy petting been beneath clothes.

So what about all the weird baseball expressions : first base, second base etc....

Posted by: xman at May 9, 2005 2:13 PM

In New Zealand, if you "pet" an animal, we say "pat". We don't have "petting zoo's" (heavy or otherwise), because that would be silly in a country filled to the brim with cows and sheep.

It's a bit like mum/mom (you say tomato, I say ...)

Also, when I go to feel-up a girl, I say just that - "feel 'er up".

Posted by: jc at May 9, 2005 2:37 PM

First base - kissing (usually French)
Second base - touching above the waist
Third base - touching below the waist
Home run - intercourse

Posted by: Indigo at May 9, 2005 2:40 PM

Okay, now we need a definition for "rubbing the clint".

I'm not sure about the specifics, but I think Sondra Locke did a lot of that in the late 70's...

Posted by: Gennosuke at May 9, 2005 2:45 PM

At the opshop the other day I picked up "Sex and the Adolescent Girl", a publication from the NZ Department of Health in 1961.

It says "Petting is a term used to describe caressing and other forms of lovemaking which sometimes take place between boys and girls. The inevitable result of these is a desire for sexual intercourse. This is not always aroused so strongly in girls, but we should remember that sexual desire is much more easily aroused in boys. Therefore it is foolish and unfair to encourage petting. It leads into a situation which may be difficult to control, where sexual intercourse may take place and be regretted later.

Girls get involved in situations where petting is the expected mode of behaviour -- often girls drift into it because they think it is part of the normal relationship between girls and boys. They feel that it is what boys expect, and they get some excitement and pleasure from it. If we are sensible we shall avoid this sort of relationship. The responsiblility of controlling our desires lies with us and we find that boys respect girls who have a natural dignity and control"

Posted by: Rosie at May 9, 2005 3:01 PM

I always thought of petting as a very 1950's educational film kind of phrase. Kinda like the makout version of Mary Jane for marijuana. No one outside of educational materials has ever said Mary Jane. Also, no one works as a drug pusher. Drug dealers don't traditionally like infrastructure so why have a level inbetween user and dealer, especially someone just pushing or as I picture it, suggesting drug use. Anyway I called mt grandmother who just turned 70 and she said they never called it petting heavy or otherwise. She did tell me that "the fast girls played backseat bingo" but she wasn't like that.

Posted by: Will at May 9, 2005 3:12 PM

The "heavy petting" thing used to confuse the hell out of me when I was younger, as the only time I ever heard it was out of the mouths of grandparents or in old movies.
Finally, when I was 14 or so, I asked my friend's aunt, who was in her early sixties, what the hell petting was all about.
Basically told me that "petting" was a euphemism the church used to condemn sexual acts that weren't sex. Petting, she said, was any act using your hands that leads to arousal. Heavy Petting is basically anything that leads to an orgasm without penetration.
Personally, I think saying "heavy petting" somehow sounds worse than the more clinical-sounding terms like "manual copulation" etc.
I accepted the way she explained it and never really thought much about it again, until now. And I see that the debate rages on...
To add to the baseball/sex analogy, one of my friends always insists that there is 1st, 2nd, 3rd, Home, and the Dugout, he says, "is butt love."

Posted by: sassycat at May 9, 2005 3:23 PM

Hey Steve, I go to a small all girls catholic highschool where we are forced to take religion classes every year (naturally of course) & this is quite ironic that you posted this the day we started our "sexuality as a gift" chapter. I read a text box in the book at the start of the semester that says "how far is too far" (according to the catholic church) & found it quite humorous. They spoke about "petting the genitals" & how before marriage, one should refrain from anything but holding hands, light embraces and short kisses. Thats all i can remember. I would include this whole box, however, i seemed to have burned... i mean misplaced my book. By the way, my teacher is a nun.

Posted by: emBURD at May 9, 2005 3:37 PM

'Heavy petting'
Apparently my oldies ran me out of their house, yelling something about prunes?

Posted by: Loki at May 9, 2005 4:54 PM

How about a definition of 'Sandra Locke'?

Posted by: Gustopoli at May 9, 2005 4:55 PM

As a side note to the CD heavy petting zoo, the first name was supposed to be "Eating Lamb", with an even more disturbing picture.

Posted by: EnderTX at May 9, 2005 5:12 PM

Actually, and tangentially, my friend is currently holding a poll about the "baseball" terms for sex:

Posted by: Travis at May 9, 2005 5:13 PM

Someone here gave the wrong definition for bases!

First base - Kissing
Second base - Touching
Third base - oral
Home run - S-E-Double X

I wonder where the Dirty Sanchez fits in there?

Posted by: Tara at May 9, 2005 5:14 PM

I havn't really got anything relevant to the topic, I just wanted to say that I love the topic and all you discussing it.

Posted by: Maximus at May 9, 2005 5:20 PM

Heh, this thread reminds me of something my friends and I used to do when we were at the pubescent petting stage.
We'd hang out on the fringes of the playground as a group and do these, well, "pectoral strengthening exercises" where you press your palms together. Then we'd chant the following rhyme: "We must, we must, increase our bust. The bigger the better, the tighter the sweater, the boys depend on us. We must, we must, increase our bust."

Posted by: Lisa at May 9, 2005 5:56 PM

I love you. Please marry me.

P.S. Did it work?

Posted by: Fig Newton at May 9, 2005 6:51 PM

To add to the growing list of sexual slang, here's some local flavor (the things you learn at frat parties).

"Bouke:" Petting and/or heavy petting, scrumping, any other sexual behavior short of coitus.

Spread it around.

Posted by: Captain at May 9, 2005 6:53 PM

How do you pronounce that?




I like it though. It even looks dirty.

Posted by: Tevin at May 9, 2005 7:48 PM

to remember the baseball-sex-terms, always keep in mind the four f's.

1st - French (as in French Kiss)
2nd - Feel (as in feeling up(or petting under some of our definitions)
3rd - Finger/Fellatio
4th - Fing.

Posted by: Guy Diddley at May 9, 2005 8:54 PM

I'm even more confused now than I was before I read all these posts.

I was accused by my elders of "necking" when I was in high school and I never really understood that. I'm sorry, but I have to disagree with the earlier definition given, as my parents and their friends made necking sound like something waaaaaaaay worse than sucking face.

The only places where I've ever seen/heard "petting" somewhere other than immediately preceding the word "zoo," is in written works and on TV. Never have I heard either of them used conversationally by anyone under the age of 45.

I think both of these terms are used by people who aren't guilty of the actions at the time the words are used. (i.e. My 53-year-old father trying to seem hip with the lingo....)

Personally, my favorite naughty word is "weiner." It's so versatile.

Posted by: Colin's Hot Sister at May 9, 2005 8:58 PM

If I messed up the baseball terms, it's because at my high school we used the "metric system", so named for its ten levels.

Posted by: Indigo at May 10, 2005 12:36 AM

"Bouke" is a good one, but I also would like to know how to pronounce it. How about "Hunching"? Anyone? It's like humping, but with clothes on, IIRC.

As far as petting, heavy or otherwise, I pretty much agree with the "above the clothes/below the clothes" breakdown.

Also, "clint" just makes me think of Ron Howard's brother. Not an attractive or sexy image, by any means.

Posted by: Phill at May 10, 2005 4:44 AM

my grannie said "STOP IT WITH THAT NONSENSE!"

she wouldn't tell me.

she's catholic.

Posted by: honey bunny at May 10, 2005 6:20 AM

When I asked my best friend back in Highschool, she said the bases were:

1st: Nekkid Time
2nd: Oral
3rd: Normal Naughty Bunny Stuff
4th: Up the butt Naughty Bunny Stuff

To be fair, my best friend was a whore.

Posted by: Knitter at May 10, 2005 9:31 AM

I think I see a new regular feature: Sexual slang. :3

Which could lead into some REALLY interesting "Steve! Don't eat it"'s.

Posted by: Samwise at May 10, 2005 9:47 AM

To me, heavy petting has always been the intense pre-intercourse and occassional post-intercourse cuddling between partners. Not foreplay, nothing too wild, just two people feeling each other up as it were.

"Just Petting" would be a more pg rated version of the above.

Posted by: Zoesdare at May 10, 2005 9:53 AM

Heh. Teabag.

Posted by: Nathan at May 10, 2005 10:33 AM

1st: Nekkid Time
2nd: Oral
3rd: Normal Naughty Bunny Stuff
4th: Up the butt Naughty Bunny Stuff

Damn straight your friend was a whore! As far as I know, conventional wisdom says:

1st: Boob.
2nd: Downstairs.
3rd: Oral
4th: Boomshackalaka

Up the butt stuff must be a whole other sports analogy...

Posted by: haveed at May 10, 2005 11:43 AM

Petting is what you do to a fuzzy little animal. Unless it is a monkey. They are very naughty and must be spanked.

Posted by: Mr. Cleaver at May 10, 2005 12:00 PM

I can't believe no one has mentioned one of my favorite movies, the documentary entitled "Heavy Petting" (1989), featuring ultra-hipsters (David Byrne, Ann Magnuson. Wm. Burroughs, Laurie Anderson etc. etc.) chatting frankly about early make-out/sexual experiences. It is intercut with some seriously hilarious clips of old "mental hygeine" films from the '50's. Well worth the rental if you have not seen it - here's a link to the IMDB page about the film. Enjoy!

Posted by: RedBetty at May 10, 2005 12:16 PM

Well for the petting/heavy petting debate I'll chime in with petting being any groping that takes place on top of the underclothes, while heavy petting is hand-to-skin contact.

Regarding the bases, everyone where I'm from had it as 1st base = kissing, 2nd = breast fondling, 3rd = groin fondling, home = coitus.

Posted by: DesMoiner at May 10, 2005 12:37 PM

My 60-year-old interviewee had a rather detailed reading of the subject: it is not petting unless you're at least under the outerwear, and it's not heavy petting unless you're below the belt. But she also says they never used the term; they 'copped a feel' when things like that were going on.

This also led to a discussion on 'first base,' which to her meant merely kissing, and to me meant specifically tongue kissing. The real gray area turned out to be second base, and now that I think of it, I'd like to see the results of another poll naming the bases.

Posted by: Troy at May 10, 2005 12:59 PM

My cousin is named Clint. As kids growing up together, he was kind of a d*ck. How does that fit in with the whole "rubbing the clint" thing?

I don't know, but it sure is a hilarious phrase, and I'm going to weave into everyday converstaion at every opportunity.

Co-worker: How was your week-end?
Me: Pretty good, spent the wntire time rubbing the clint. And you?

Posted by: Bill at May 10, 2005 1:03 PM

According to my mother (who giggled like a schoolgirl when I asked her) Petting refers to above the waist and Heavy Petting refers to below the waist. She claims to be 37 and I'm not going to argue.

To my knowledge (I'm not going to write from experience as I intend to email this link to my mother) Petting refered to over the clothes and Heavy Petting to under. I've checked with a couple of friends and they agree with one or the other.

Posted by: AngelCat at May 10, 2005 1:57 PM

Btw, I'm from the north west UK. I believe the most commonly used term is "copping a feel" around here.

Posted by: AngelCat at May 10, 2005 1:58 PM

I once noticed that if the name CLINT is written in simple box letters (for example the I is a simple vertical line) and you were to connect the L and the I with the tiniest of lines, "rubbing the CLINT" would once again make sense. Strange, huh?

Posted by: Felix at May 10, 2005 2:27 PM

My god, you're right...

Now I can't stop seeing Clint as cunt... D:

Posted by: jc at May 10, 2005 3:01 PM

Hi, im a fifteen year old living in Dublin.In Dublin,to kiss a girl is to "meet" her while in the country they use the word "shift"(which makes it sound a lot more than an innocent snog).Intercourse is simply "fuck" (a crude bunch us Dublin teens!), "feck" or the more extravagent "bang the whole of her",which when spoken in a thick Dublin accent is hilarious.Never used the term Petting nor heard it in conversation, only seen at swimming pools.thanks for your time.

Posted by: Irish Hugh at May 10, 2005 3:30 PM

I don't believe I've laughed so hard in days and days. I had no idea there were so many funny people in the world.
PS I never did any of that stuff.

Posted by: Bobby John at May 10, 2005 4:02 PM

Honestly, the only time I've ever heard anyone really use the terms "petting" and "heavy petting" was in religion class when we were trying to answer the question "How far is too far, according to Jesus?"
I think my 63-ish year old religion teacher/pastor used the same definitions as the rest of ya'lls.

Posted by: Laura at May 10, 2005 4:04 PM

I'd like to ask my grandma that question, but she's dead. Sigh.

Posted by: Karen at May 10, 2005 4:52 PM

Petting: (V) The act of caressing the opposite gender in a playful manner. Heavy Petting: (V) The act of caressing the opposite gender in a lustful manner. This is from my grandmother who is 78 and funny as hell.

Posted by: zach at May 10, 2005 4:55 PM

to add my list of baseball termanology:1st: French!2nd: Feel!3rd: Finger!4th: Fuck!

Posted by: zach at May 10, 2005 5:00 PM

my 90 year old great-great uncle said it means"puttin tha icing on tha cake"??????

Posted by: t at May 10, 2005 6:47 PM

Toucha toucha toucha touch me. I want to be dirty.

/I got nuthin'

Posted by: aliendave at May 10, 2005 6:53 PM

I'm from Western New York, where we rarely called it anything other than "making out."

I have some friends from Texas who call it "mugging" or "mugging down," which I find strangely disturbing... it sounds like a violent activity.

Posted by: Leah at May 10, 2005 7:16 PM

In high school, my friend told me one should never name a comic book character Clint Flicker, as the uppercase comic lettering could be the death of your career.

Now, I print when addressing envelopes, and I live in a place called Clinton Township. I catch myself being very particular about the kerning on the return address.

Posted by: Hirayuki at May 10, 2005 8:44 PM

For the record, my mom was really PO'd that I asked her this question during my Mother's Day phone call, which was a day late to begin with.

Posted by: Pete at May 10, 2005 9:57 PM

So after asking nearly everyone at work and skimming the Hite Report (we have a copy at work, who doesn't?), I have come to the conclusion that petting was pretty much everything above the waist (under or over clothing) and heavy petting involved anything below the waist.

The Hite Report merely mentioned an incidence of "light petting" that involved being "buttoned up and with all of my clothes on," which seems to imply that petting of other kinds involved unbuttoned clothing.

Ed's thought on heavy petting was simply: "Insertion of some kind some where."

Crude and simplistic, yes, but it seemed to resonate well with those around him.

Posted by: J-Money Yo at May 10, 2005 10:40 PM

"Petting" = touching a girl.

"Heavy Petting" = touching a big fat girl, e.g. Rosie O'Donnell, Kirstie Alley, the late Nel Carter.

Posted by: Dan at May 10, 2005 11:03 PM

"Fourth base"

You people are soooo not American! ;)

Posted by: Colin's Hot Sister at May 10, 2005 11:07 PM

"I have come to the conclusion that petting was pretty much everything above the waist (under or over clothing) and heavy petting involved anything below the waist."

I couldn't disgree more. Touching your partner's groin OVER their pants (or trousers) is still just petting. You've got to get in there for it to cross the line into "heavy" land.

Posted by: Bjoangles at May 10, 2005 11:07 PM

Petting is just groping. Heavy petting is when she slips your franger on for you , leading to a root. Then you wipe your dick on the curtains and go home.

Posted by: Aussiekevin at May 11, 2005 4:32 AM

petting=over the clothes
heavy petting= under the clothes

around here, when I was a kid, we had the 5 Fs-
Find Her
Finger her
Feel her
Fuck her
Forget her

we were an unfeeling bunch. As for 'rubbing the clint', I'm still wiping away the tears of laughter.
as for 'FLICKER', I remember being a kid and watching Barney Miller (an American comedy police show), and during the closing credits, the names are all in capitals, in a hand-written font, and I swear, there's a guy listed as Theodore J. Flicker, and I thought it said Fucker, and asked my parents out loud if that could be a guy's last name. I was about 10 years old.

Posted by: peculiar hailstone at May 11, 2005 5:51 AM

Looks like the sneeze has dislodged a booger.

/Spammers suck

Posted by: ben Requena at May 11, 2005 6:56 AM

uh, I thought of asking my dad, but then I realized, he might actually tell me...eww

Posted by: Kathy at May 11, 2005 7:18 AM

"I couldn't disgree more. Touching your partner's groin OVER their pants (or trousers) is still just petting. You've got to get in there for it to cross the line into "heavy" land."

My definition is based upon a mostly random sampling of CNN staffers in verbal conversation May 10, 2005. It was agreed by most that since males have "the one major erogenous zone" as someone put it, dealing with that, over or under clothing was generally defined as heavy petting. I'm at the whim of the masses on this one, but you are perfectly free to disagree.

Posted by: J-Money Yo at May 11, 2005 7:41 AM

petting/heavy petting - same as consensus of above. When I was growing up , copping a feel wasn't part of making out (petting), it was a singular act in and of itself. Touching a girl's breast, butt, (or if you were really brave) her crotch while sitting on the bus, or in the hallway, etc.

Posted by: Bob at May 11, 2005 8:36 AM

Hey Steve, wheres this update with your Dads response that you promised?

Posted by: AngelCat at May 11, 2005 9:55 AM

More euphemisms from my West Texas high school years:

Bumping uglies

Bumping fuzzies

Frosting the Danish


Posted by: JC at May 11, 2005 12:17 PM

I'm 52 so here goes. Petting was what happened when one ventured south of the neck (necking). Petting and heavy petting could and often did lead to whoopee (depending if you were discovered or how many dates you had already had). There was a progression those days and something to look forward to. Nowadays relationships are so short one has to proceed at peak velocity.

Posted by: Whizzzard at May 11, 2005 12:53 PM

I've been thinking about this all day, and actually asked another woman at work to define it, she just told me to shut up. I never remember anybody using the terms petting when I was growing up. (I'm 44 and grew up in Maryland) we used the base system. funny but it was always about what a guy did to a girl, nobody every cared or mentioned what a girl did to a guy...hmmm I'm trying to remember when I first heard the term "pet" and I mainly remember it from Roseanne...I remember using the term "messing around" which in my crowd meant just about anything that did not involve intercourse...
our bases were
1st kissing
2nd being felt up
3rd fingered
4th intercourse
frankly french kissing was maybe a 1 1/2 because generally if you were french kissing you were being felt up too.

Posted by: Kathy at May 11, 2005 1:46 PM

When I was in high school I was forced into the evangelical church crowd by my parents. My friends and fellow hostages and I would read throug leviticus while in sunday school. The penance they had to pay in levical times was hilarious.

Anyway we noticed a trend that anytime a sexual sin was commited a person had to burn a bull. So we called anything sexual burning the bull.

Friend 1: How you do last night?
Friend 2: oh you know, I burned a couple a bulls.

As for petting, my parents never used it and they were a lot more vulgar in their terminology than when I was in high school.

Posted by: Joey at May 11, 2005 2:32 PM

My mom is 60 and an old hippy. She defines the two as:

Petting: Over the clothes groping. No groin area contact.

Heavy Petting: Under the clothes groping of the boobies and butt and dry humping. No actual skin to skin contact with the genitals though you could get touchy, feely, strokey outside the clothes in the groin area.

Posted by: Pinkie Lee at May 11, 2005 3:04 PM

My comment is not about Petting, though I'll say whatever it is, it's good.

But I can't eat a banana anymore without first splitting it into three.

Posted by: Aaron at May 11, 2005 6:16 PM

>My definition is based upon a mostly random sampling of CNN staffers in verbal conversation May 10, 2005.<

Whoa! Can it actually be possible to learn something from CNN?

Posted by: MilkBone at May 11, 2005 6:49 PM

LOL! Aaron!

Posted by: LL Locke at May 11, 2005 7:01 PM

so I asked my English teacher who is 42 and she refused to tell us, but said that we could "use our imaginations" and figure it out. However, when we began to use our imaginations out loud she told us to shut up and that heavy petting refered to any touching without clothing. But we still imagined outloud. It was really funny. I guess you had to be there.

Posted by: Kgc17 at May 11, 2005 7:20 PM

I grew up in Northern New York, where winter begins in September and lasts through May. For a guy, petting meant touching a girl above the waist and over her snowmobile suit.

Heavy petting meant the two of you were breathing hard enough to steam up the Zamboni's windshield.

Posted by: Paddy O' at May 11, 2005 8:47 PM

I don't like my grandmother. I haven't talked to her since the summer. I live in South Korea (from USA - very SOUTHERN) so it's not like I'm avoiding her or anything. I haven't called her in YEARS. This whole line of thought makes me want to call her up just to ask the question though. I'm pretty sure she was a tart.

Posted by: Jane Ansible at May 12, 2005 2:01 AM

All I know is that when I went to highschool (an all girl catholic one), Sister told us in our religion class (on the history of the church, incidentally), to "pet your dog, not your date".

I am still highly disturbed by the suggestion, even 12 years later, that some form of bestiality is better than whatever petting means to us humans.

Posted by: Mandalei at May 12, 2005 3:33 AM

I think someone needs to make another teabag remark. Something like "OMFG! My mom was goin through my digital camera and she found pictures of me teabagging my passed out friend!"

Posted by: Nathan at May 12, 2005 5:39 AM

OK, I have a little different spin for you:

Asked my husband his definition of petting, since I often look to him for both maturity and wisdom. He defined petting as "Touching the boobies!" (that's right, boobies) So I asked him what heavy petting would be, to which he responded "Touching the boobies!!!" What's the difference? His answer: "Gusto!"

Posted by: Kerry at May 12, 2005 9:14 AM

Ok Nathan - here ya go:

I was leafing through a magazine the other day and found an article about alternative uses for different household items. It recommended rubbing (wet) teabags over scratches in wood furniture to hide the imperfections.

Oh.... you meant.... sorry... nevermind.

Posted by: momsoops at May 12, 2005 9:32 AM

Well, I don't know what it means. And I am not ashamed to admit that, especially since it is likely one of you will relieve the poverty of my ignorance...

Posted by: LL Locke at May 12, 2005 10:07 AM

"Finger-tappin the browneye."
-Grandpa, age 94
p.s the "clint?"

Posted by: Chonky McSatchel at May 12, 2005 10:24 AM

Please Chonky,

Could you send us contact information for your Grandpa - I think a lot of us would LOVE to talk to him!

finger-tappin the.....

oh my.

Posted by: momsoops at May 12, 2005 11:04 AM

I must have been sheltered. I always thought that "petting" and "necking" simply meant "making out". I've never understood what "teabagging" means.

Posted by: Laura at May 12, 2005 1:13 PM

Oh, yes, teabagging. What a great college sport!

The motion you make with a teabag when making a cup of tea? Imagine that, only the cup is someone's face or mouth who is passed out, and the teabag is somebody else's testicles.

Posted by: Nathan at May 12, 2005 3:33 PM

Thanks Nathan!

See, that's what I luv about this site: Funny, Educational, and Disgusting. What more could anyone want?

Posted by: LL Locke at May 12, 2005 3:39 PM

Ok - I asked my two friends in the office - a hippie 38 year old male (J) and a cool 29 year old female (S). What is petting? J- making out. S - stroked her upper thigh (she's very visual). What is heavy petting? J - making out with boobs and dicks. S - elongated the stroke to include a wider region. I also asked what teabagging was and J said it was eating a woman out when they were on their period - he referred to it as "getting your red wings".

Pretty interesting day at the office I'd say.

Posted by: Jane Ansible at May 12, 2005 6:35 PM

I'm from the Philippines, and we never use the term "petting". I've only heard it last year when I was scanning my mail. We're into the "base system". Sounds way easier to define, no?

But the people here have an even better term for petting. it's called "Forbidden".

BTW, i also used to go to a catholic school, and i got into rEALLY deep trouble... just for hugging my then-girlfriend. The school officials called it "intimate hugging". i asked them what's wrong with that, and they said, "From our point of view, you kids looked like you were doing something immoral".

they were like 7 meters away when they saw us.

how do you define "intimate hugging"? isn't hugging intimate ALREADY?!? and for chrissakes, how can hugging be immoral?!

Posted by: Ade at May 12, 2005 6:59 PM

"Whoa! Can it actually be possible to learn something from CNN?"

Learning from CNN staff is entirely different and should be kept as separate as possible from what actually goes out on the air.

Posted by: J-Money Yo at May 12, 2005 8:41 PM

Sorry for the delay, guys. On the phone, my dad (64) first said (with much cute fumfering)

"That was something we usually associated with frustration. It usually meant a lot of huffin' and puffin' and smoochin' and stuff like that. But that was it. A lot of smoke.

It was a nice way of saying it without using a lot of words we didn't want to use."

He then followed that up with this email:

Hi, That term was used, as far as I can remember, back in the forties. In the fifties we use to call it making out. Different degrees like heavy etc. mostly with clothing still on but perhaps not covering the same parts of the anatomy that you started out with.

Then of course, the next day you had the baseball talk, how far did you get? 1st base, 2nd base, 3rd base and the ever elusive homerun.

love poppa

Posted by: Steve at May 12, 2005 9:46 PM

wait... i was thinking about this assignment you've given us, and then, i realized, you don't really want to know what petting is, do you? you just want all of us to embarrass ourselves by asking awkward questions to our parents and grandparents. and you want to fill us with disgusting visions of them engaged in these activities... you sick, sick man!

Posted by: chang at May 13, 2005 6:24 AM

"and you want to fill us with disgusting visions of them engaged in these activities"

AHHH! I hadn't thought of that until you said it!

nasty...where do I get soap to wash that image out of my mind...


Posted by: Dave at May 13, 2005 10:06 AM

has anyone ever walked in on their parents/grandparents "petting", "heavy petting" or otherwise? If so, what did it look like? Jello?

Posted by: gregory at May 13, 2005 3:17 PM

I don't know what it would look like, because I've never seen my parents bumping uglies (eeewww), but here's what it would sound like: Hold your hands in front of your face, about 6 inches out, palms and forearms facing each other, and repeatedly smack your hands and forearms together while allowing your wrists to go slightly limp.......that's what the olds would sound like.......also, eeeewwww.

Posted by: Jennifer at May 13, 2005 7:26 PM

i asked my grandmother if she would explain to me her understanding of the term petting and how that differed from heavy petting, and this was the response i got... "Ok,maybe I'm wrong,but to me,petting is kissing a lot and feeling up the boobs.Heavy petting is drawing the line before intercourse.That’s french kissing and (feeling up) each other.This is really crude termonology,but I hope it gets the terms across.I don't know where to place oral sex?Hope this helps,love ya,G,ma

Posted by: gil at May 13, 2005 7:58 PM

Now, you want a strange sexual slang... snogging... I have to slap my british friend everytime he says it, because if I don't, I will start to say it...

"That's all I needed to see, Will and Jess snogging"

I Just want to kill him sometimes. Apparently it means the exact same thing as making out, but being british, he has to put a really disgusting sounding euphemism into place... either that or a pun.... damn that boy, I'll fry his fish! I gare-un-tee!

Posted by: Matt at May 14, 2005 11:07 AM

and another thing, where the hell do you people get these grandparents? Seriously. I think we have to update our euphemisms, because seriously, when we have to ask our GRANDPARENTS about them, we have really fallen behind... I move to bar the term "petting" from all sexual practices, who's with me!?

Posted by: Matt at May 14, 2005 11:08 AM

Zach is right on the money. First base is french kissing, second is feeling her boobs, third is inside the pants and home is getting your jimmy waxed.

There was also the modifier "sloppy," which meant using your mouth. So sloppy second was licking her tits, and sloppy third was oral sex.

There was also the highly controversial "sloppy home," which (in defiance of the proper definition of sloppy) some people took to mean buttsex. The fact is, though, that these euphemisms ceased to have any utility long before anyone was actually having sex. By that point, we were no longer too embarrassed to just say "fucking."

Oh, and as far I ever knew, "petting" meant second base and "heavy petting" meant third base. Heh.

Posted by: David at May 14, 2005 2:02 PM

I always thought of petting as a very 1950's educational film kind of phrase. Kinda like the makout version of Mary Jane for marijuana. No one outside of educational materials has ever said Mary Jane. Also, no one works as a drug pusher. Drug dealers don't traditionally like infrastructure so why have a level inbetween user and dealer, especially someone just pushing or as I picture it, suggesting drug use. Anyway I called mt grandmother who just turned 70 and she said they never called it petting heavy or otherwise. She did tell me that "the fast girls played backseat bingo" but she wasn't like that.

I wasn't around in the 50s but lots of people say "Mary Jane" nowadays; the phrase is even in mainstream movies. Also, there are tons of middlemen in the drug industry. I don't know how you came to these conclusions. lol

Posted by: HollyBerry at May 14, 2005 5:10 PM

Clearly I have not done enough drugs then.

Posted by: will at May 14, 2005 8:15 PM


I think your hippie friend might be a little offbase on teabagging...

Posted by: Steve at May 15, 2005 7:19 AM

while we're on the subject of sexual slang could someone please tell me exactly what "felching" is.All i know is that its wretched and features a straw.

Posted by: Irish Hugh at May 15, 2005 1:13 PM

Felching: sucking semen out of vagina or anus; or inserting animals into anus or vagina

Posted by: HollyBerry at May 15, 2005 2:56 PM

Late response...

Bouke, pronounced "book," but not as in book. As in, "booook."

Now that I have you thoroughly confused, I take my leave.

Posted by: Captain at May 15, 2005 3:46 PM

HollyBerry- I can't believe those two distinct activities have to share one slang term....

"My girlfriend and I did a little felching last night".
" The felching with small animals? or the other kind with the sperm sucking?"
"The small animal one, of course! The other felching is sooo gross!"

Posted by: felix at May 16, 2005 12:41 PM

I think you might be a bit confused felix. Felching is sucking cum. Fletching is shooting arrows. Does that clear things up a bit? I must say, I have no experience in the first and little in the second. I would like to bag a bird though.

Posted by: gregory at May 16, 2005 3:28 PM

I miss the good old days of petting...I can't seem to only pet. The other day an old 8th grade fling and I were talking about how much fun we had and how it could last for hours. Ahh, the innocence.

Posted by: betty at May 16, 2005 4:05 PM

OH MY GOD! I have found my people. I felt like i have been walking thru this world all alone with this strange view of the world..then i read the posts here! I am Home!! Thank you!

Petting ~ Over the clothes
Heavy Petting ~ Under the clothes
playing parchesi ~ Doin' It
going to the mall ~ Doin' It

(my friends and I could make anything dirty)

P.S. The other night my husbands 89 year old grandmother thought we were "making sweet love" the other day cause we were in another room together for a few minutes.

Needless to say she said that, I vomited.

Posted by: Carrie at May 17, 2005 9:57 AM

I have had sooo much fun reading this! I’m 31 and from Michigan, US. Who needs to have an intimate understanding of petting when there are other terms out there that mean so much more and get right to the point? Petting has so many grey areas. Here are some of the more interesting terminologies that I’ve come across:

Groping - clothes on but getting frustrated
Mutual Masturbation – bringing your partner to orgasm and at the same time receiving; usually with the hands; also ‘fingering’
Oral – either giving or receiving stimulation through oral contact with the nether-regions
69 - would indeed be swapping spit with the others nether-regions while also getting yours “spit” on; ie. simultaneous oral stimulation
Anal - truly fun interchange between a penis and an anus
Fisting - totally disgusting – no definition necessary
Fucking - doin' the dirty, ...nasty, ...deed, bumpin uglies, et al.
Felching – I’m trying to contain my gag reflex while reading its’ definition on wikipedia

And of course this is not an all inclusive list. If you think I’ve omitted anything of pertinent importance then please feel free to fill in the blanks or add on to the list :^)

Posted by: Stacy at May 17, 2005 7:15 PM

boy am i glad i asked what felching was.

Posted by: Irish Hugh at May 18, 2005 2:46 AM

its fun to learn cos knowledge is power!

Posted by: Irish Hugh at May 18, 2005 2:48 AM

Considering that I "pet" my dog...this is disturbing. Am I being sexually explicit with my dog? Lord help us...also, perhaps we can clear up what "making your body talk" means...because that also qounds questionable.

Posted by: Vanessa at May 18, 2005 12:17 PM

shit..i hit the "Q" yea, you should have figured that I mean "sounds"

Posted by: Vanessa at May 18, 2005 12:18 PM

BTW, I'm from Anguilla in the Caribbean, and we have a term called "duxing" which means fucking. This has always been amusing. Also, we call the penis a "Lingy" (pronounced with a hard "g") or "Taloo". Since in the Caribbean children are very explicit from young, we used to play this game called "Find and Grind" in primary school as well as one called "House" can only imagine. I of course did none of this... (evil grin) and no I'm not a whore. Lol

Posted by: Vanessa at May 18, 2005 12:45 PM

To the person who doesn't like the term 'snogging', I think 'snogging' sounds really cute, and not at all disgusting.

Snog snog snog. I am reminded of Hobbes saying "smock smock smock".

Posted by: Jamie at May 19, 2005 5:14 PM

" . . . so many funny people in the world!"

Classic. (I'm STILL laughing.)

Indeed there are, and Steve has graciously given them all a home. Thank you, Steve, thank you.

This has been a most illuminating and entertaining discussion. I am SO gratified to have learned so many new and fascinating sexual slang words -- and I'm also more than a little horny now, so it would be great if someone could finish me off (e.g. heavy petting), speaking of gratification. It's kinda cool to be exposed (so to speak) to all the different terms and definitions people use depending on what region or country they're from, isn't it. "Frosting the Danish!???" Wow, that's good stuff. Y'all talk kinda funny in Texas, but ya shore have sum colorful ways ta express yerselves! I'm 51 and originally from the Midwest. To us, petting just referred to any and all touching and caressing of your partner anywhere EXCEPT the primary erogenous zones -- if you got your hands on the boobs and/or genitals, THAT'S when it became "heavy petting." Simple as that. We didn't really distinguish whether it was over or under the clothing. Minor detail. You're havin' fun either way, but you can only get your rocks off if you're heavy petting.

So now, can we get back to the youngsters teachin' US the NEW slang? (And yeah, Jennifer, I guess that IS pretty much how it sounds when we do it. Why -- does it sound different when you do it?? Please elaborate. The more details, the better.)

Posted by: Big Dog at May 19, 2005 5:23 PM

You know, my elementary school friends in the 70s talked abut petting, so it's not THAT passe'. Right? RIGHT??! But the reason it's hard to define is that the crucial thing to the user of the term is to NOT have to define it - on the playground at Congress you HAD to appear to just "know" or else you were toast.

I was toast, but I never did let on that I didn't know. Later it didn't seem to matter because as Austin said, "the whole smorgasboard of naughty sexual delight" could be called anything (except, maybe, snogging - ick!). I always liked petting because it is such a nice thing to do non-sexually (like with my doggy kids) that I figured it had to be nice sexually too.

Now before the sleazemeisters come down on me for various reasons, I'd like to defend myself against 2 angles in advance:
1 - if you're too nasty to think of petting other than sexually even with dogs, let me ask you, "do you kiss your mom with that mouth?"
2 - Hornhead is my real married name. Hubub didn't want Moorehead (and I never liked it much, I have to admit, especially on the aforementioned rather tough playground), and I was not anxious to become Mrs. Horning.

Posted by: hornhead at May 20, 2005 9:29 AM

Steve, firstly, I love your site, I haven't laughed this much in a long time, and, will be on the lookout for things for you to eat :)

Now, I asked my grandmother, who says she's 72, but, has been known to lie about her age (she's been 72 for the past ten years or so), and fancies herself a comedienne.

She said--
petting is when you stroke the chihuahua
heavy petting is when you stroke the great mastiff.

I believe she just coined some heretofore unknown sexual euphemisms of her own, lol

Posted by: Pill at May 21, 2005 1:32 PM

You are providing a valuable public service here. My wife told me she was taking my son's Boy Scout troop to a peeting zoo Friday. I'm divorcing the bitch.

Posted by: slimey at May 23, 2005 10:38 AM

Whatever it is, it's the same as it's always been. My parents HAD to get married. My wife's very religious parents HAD to get married. My wife's very religious grandparents HAD to get married. My wife's other grandfather had a child out of wedlock.

In short, there ain't nothin' new under the sun. Whatever YOU call petting or heavy petting is the same as they would have called it. It's sex, and sex is fun!

However, I would prefer that my three daughters abstain. At least till they're out on their own. "Don't be like mom and dad, kids."

Posted by: Slim at May 24, 2005 6:58 AM

Basically petting is the act or practice of amorously embracing, kissing, and caressing one's partner. Or in simpler terms, to make love by fondling and caressing.

Posted by: dave at May 24, 2005 9:15 AM

i am an idiot and i am lead by richard simmons

Posted by: idiot at May 25, 2005 9:26 PM

I'm not British, but even though I do know what both terms mean, I think "snogging" sounds worse than "shagging". I don't know why.

I do know that it disturbs me when my 13 yo daughter goes to Planet Smoothie and orders a "Shagadelic". Eeek.

Posted by: Chris at May 26, 2005 7:24 AM

I will wax scholarly here, but only because I happen to have the book at hand. According to the book "The Body Project; An Intimate History of American girls" the author says about petting the following:
"...we now understand that hymens tear for a variety of reasons (such as strenuos exercise...petting, or masturbation)" page 144. To me this implies that petting includes at least manual penetration.
"Tampons, like petting, widened the twentieth-century adolescent girl's experience of the body and, ultimately, made it easier to have both internal exams and intercourse" page 165. Another implication that petting involved insertion of fingers into the vagina.
One teenager of the 1930's referred to petting as the "greatest American sport" page 155, implying it was a common practice that our grandmas aren't fessing up to, although they may have called it something else. The author concludes that petting paved the way for the modern gynological exam, because the young women had already experienced vaginal penetration, even if they were still technically virgins. So it seems that scholarly literature defines petting (though it doesn't differentiate heavy petting from regular petting) as including what is now commonly referred to as "fingering". It broke or stretched the hymen and allowed easier future penetration by penis or speculum.

Posted by: Gabrielle at May 28, 2005 1:10 AM

Hello, very nice page, keep on. Greetings from C.A..

Posted by: Cathy at June 1, 2005 3:35 PM

esta muy bien!un beso para los abuelitos

Posted by: judith at June 3, 2005 12:09 AM