STD Dictionary: Slang Terms

There are a range of different sexually transmitted diseases and they all have scientific names that can be difficult to get your tongue around. Fortunately, there are slang terms that make things easier for us mere mortals.

In this article, we will have a look at the most common sexually transmitted diseases and common slang terms relating to each of them.


This is a disease that is more common among young adults. It can affect both men and women. It is a type of bacterial infection and can be transmitted during oral sex, anal sex, and intercourse.

It may be asymptomatic, especially at the onset of the disease. As it progresses, there could be a discharge associated with it. Testing is the only way to properly diagnose the condition.

The most common slang term for gonorrhea is “the clap”. Some say that this is based on the French “clapier”, meaning brothel. Others suggest that it is based on the somewhat outdated treatment for the clap in men. This treatment involved ridding the penis of pus caused by the disease by clapping the hands on it.

You might also hear of it being called either “the drip” or “the morning drip”. This is in reference to the discharge that is associated with the disease.

An alternative, more modern term, is “the dose”. This is in reference to the fact that it may be cleared with one dose of the correct antibiotic if the infection is not too far advanced.


This is also a bacterial infection and affects both men and women. Men generally get the infection in their urethra. Women can get it in the throat, rectum or cervix.

The slang-term most often used is “the clam”. This is based on the name of the disease and is also considered something of a play on words. Clam, in this case, also refers to a woman’s genitals.

Another term you may come across is “gooey stuff”. This is based on the discharge that is commonly associated with the disease.


HIV is short for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It may progress into full-blown AIDS. (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.) HIV damages your immune system, making it harder to fight off infection. There is currently no cure for either HIV or AIDs.

The most common slang term is “the virus”. This is in reference to the fact that it is a viral infection and that it is incurable.

Another term that is used is “Hi-Five”. This is based on the term HIV. The “five” being a reference to the roman numeral “V” used to denote five.

You might also hear the term, “the bug”. Again, this is another reference to the disease being a viral infection.

“The deadliest catch” references how dangerous the disease is and is a play on words referencing a popular TV series.

In South Africa, where the disease is rife, it may be referred to as “the slow puncture”. This is in reference to the fact that most sufferers start to lose weight and the disease takes a long time to progress.


Whether you have genital herpes or oral herpes, they are caused by the same Herpes Simplex Virus. It can be passed through contact and can spread even if the sores have not formed yet. It can be passed on through intercourse, anal sex, oral sex or kissing.

You cannot get rid of the virus and can expect outbreaks of the blisters periodically. Outbreaks are more likely when you are under stress or your immune system is weak. Aside from the blisters, there are no other symptoms.

A common slang term for this is “the gift that keeps on giving.” This is in reference to the repeated outbreaks and the fact that the virus stays with you for life.

The blisters are usually referred to as “fever blisters” or “cold sores” as they often follow a bout of colds/ flu.

Pubic Lice

Pubic lice are a type of parasite that usually live in the coarse hair of the genital region. They are passed by contact or by sharing common items such as towels.

The most common slang term is “crabs” which is a reference to what the lice look like. They have a crab-like appearance and are sometimes called crab-lice.


This is a bacterial infection and can affect men and women. It is most common to get it through intercourse. Initially, all you might see is one little sore that doesn’t cause you any pain. The lymph nodes may also swell.

If not treated, you might see a rash develop on the skin, especially on your hands or your feet. The rash will not be itchy. It is important to seek treatment because syphilis may contribute to the development of dementia in later life.

The most common slang term in use is “the pox.” This is in reference to the rash it causes.

Another term that may be used is “the great imitator.” This is a more old-fashioned term and it referenced the fact that the disease can appear to be similar to a range of other diseases. Before blood testing methods were perfected, this often meant that the disease was mistaken for something else.

Another more old-fashioned slang term is “bad blood.” This is in reference to an experiment conducted by the American government. They told subjects that they were being treated for “bad blood” and then infected with syphilis.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

This is actually a collection of different viruses that are inter-related. These viruses cause warts to develop. Currently there are a couple of hundred different types, around 40 of which are sexually transmittable. The virus is spread by sexual intercourse.

The viruses are classified into low-risk, which are responsible for genital warts, and high-risk, which can cause certain types of cancer.

There are several commonly used terms. These include “Jesus pox” in reference to the idea that premarital sex causes the infection.

Another term used is “fungal in the jungle” which derives from the mistaken belief that genital warts are caused by a fungus.

A crass term that is used is “cunt barnacle” in reference to the warts on a woman’s genitalia.

Hepatitis A and B

Hepatitis is the swelling of the liver. It is caused by one of three viruses – Hepatitis A, B, or C. Hepatitis A and B can be sexually transmitted.

The most common slang term used for Hepatitis is “hep.” In the case of Hepatitis B, the “B” will be appended – “hep B.”

And that rounds up our exploration of the common slang terms related to STDs. This is by no means an exhaustive list but it does include the terms that you are most likely to encounter.


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