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Words Matter: Dominant v. Domineering

SirsBabyDoll​(sub female)
2 weeks ago • Jan 17, 2023

Words Matter: Dominant v. Domineering

SirsBabyDoll​(sub female) • Jan 17, 2023
In order to not derail another thread < "Is there such a thing as punishments for Dominants" https://thecage.co/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=4992 >, I'm moving the discusion surround definitions here.

A side discussion evolved surrounding the differences between "Dominant", "Domineering", "Submissive", and "Subservient". I had questioned someone's use of the word "Domineering" in place of "Dominant". I had pointed out that "Domineering" and "Subservient" had negative connotations.

To be concise, here is the definitions in question:
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dominant
Dominant (noun) :an individual having a controlling, prevailing, or powerful position in a social hierarchy.
dominant (adjective) : commanding, controlling, or prevailing over all others

domineering (adjective) : inclined to exercise arbitrary and overbearing control over others

Google seems to use "Oxford Languages" dictionary (I do not know if they are connected to the trusted "Oxford Dictionary") and their definition is:

domineering (adjective) : asserting one's will over another in an arrogant way.

(and for the sake of comparison, here is the definition THEY have for "Dominant":

Dominant (adjective) : most important, powerful, or influential.
(what' funny is that they do not have a definition for the noun form in regards to sociology).

It is MY view that the attitude that is inherent within the definition of "domineering" is the most important factor. "in an arrogant way", "overbearing" are NOT positive traits. There is a HUGE difference between describing yourself as a "dominant" person (commanding, controlling, or prevailing over others) and a "domineering" person (asserting one's will over another IN AN ARROGANT WAY).

Now lets compare the other side of the slash...

Merriam Websters definition was, shall we say, "lacking in clarity" so I'll use google's "Oxford Languages" definition because the example sentence fits with THIS author:

submissive (adjective) : ready to conform to the authority or will of others; meekly obedient or passive.
submissive (noun) :a person who takes the submissive role in BDSM sexual activities.

example sentence:
"she's a submissive who likes to push the limits of the dominant partner's rules" icon_biggrin.gif icon_biggrin.gif icon_biggrin.gif icon_biggrin.gif

Why do words matter? Because words carry inherent emotion AND intent. A person can be Dominant and NOT be domineering..and vice versa. How many times have we ranted about "fake doms" here on the Cage? I think I've seen plenty and ranted plenty in my time here.

When considering a dynamic with someone or even just in conversation with someone, do you take the time to ensure you are both using the same dictionary? Words matter....but so does DEFINITIONS and I think that sometimes, its necessary to ensure that you both have the same understanding of a term, even ones that seem obvious.

What are YOUR views? How do you define words such as "dominant", and "domineering"? Do they have an emotional intent for you?
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Steellover​(sub male)
2 weeks ago • Jan 18, 2023
Steellover​(sub male) • Jan 18, 2023
Speaking from observations as a submissive male (so take that for what it's worth): "Domineering" to me sounds like a relationship a good buddy of mine had with his wife. I was close with both of them. It was a relationship that evolved into to a "FLR" (Female Led Relationship) by default, based on her compulsive need to be in control at all times. She was the classic domineering wife, nagging at him and at their children constantly and excessively, to the point where it was actually awkward for other people to be around them.

There was, however, no kink involved, and in no way could their relationship be described as BDSM or D/S related. In fact, she would probably be upset if people used those terms to describe their relationship. Eventually he couldn't take her constant nagging, browbeating, and belitting and took the kids and divorced her.

I think that the difference involves both consent and communication among both partners that this is what they want, and the method of dominance has to be such that it isn't constant public nagging but quiet and confident strength. Otherwise, it is just an emotionally abusive relationship.
Defender​(dom male)
2 weeks ago • Jan 18, 2023
Defender​(dom male) • Jan 18, 2023
To me, the difference between "dominant" and "domineering" is a mile wide.

I have noticed that to some, it isn't!

New submissives beware.......
Kurai Mori​(dom male)
1 week ago • Jan 22, 2023
Kurai Mori​(dom male) • Jan 22, 2023
I utilize a copyrighted 1967 Random House unabridged dictionary for my word sources so, my definitions are a little out of date - but if I was to utilize these definitions for practical usage - then I would have to look heavily upon who I was as a practitioner as well as those in the lifestyle as well.

But I tend to look at what the writer is saying and how they are saying something. And basing my judgement upon the context of the narrative versus the definition of the words being used. Because based on definition only text, then a lot of what is being said could be taken out of context and ultimately misconstrued...

For example:
sadomasochism listed as a noun is defined as; a disturbed personality condition marked by the presence of both sadistic and masochistic traits.

If I base my definition on the definition alone - then... we are all disturbed personalities. But I know that this is not the case.
So... do we base our decisions upon the words and their definitions? Or how the words are being used?

It is up to each of us to make that decision.
SirsBabyDoll​(sub female)
1 week ago • Jan 22, 2023
SirsBabyDoll​(sub female) • Jan 22, 2023
Kurai Mori wrote:
I utilize a copyrighted 1967 Random House unabridged dictionary for my word sources so, my definitions are a little out of date - but if I was to utilize these definitions for practical usage - then I would have to look heavily upon who I was as a practitioner as well as those in the lifestyle as well.

But I tend to look at what the writer is saying and how they are saying something. And basing my judgement upon the context of the narrative versus the definition of the words being used. Because based on definition only text, then a lot of what is being said could be taken out of context and ultimately misconstrued...

For example:
sadomasochism listed as a noun is defined as; a disturbed personality condition marked by the presence of both sadistic and masochistic traits.

If I base my definition on the definition alone - then... we are all disturbed personalities. But I know that this is not the case.
So... do we base our decisions upon the words and their definitions? Or how the words are being used?

It is up to each of us to make that decision.


The Oxford Languages dictionary defined sadomasochism as:

(Noun) psychological tendency or sexual practice characterized by both sadism and masochism.

Notice how the definition became more concise with the removal of the word "disturbed"?

The DSM5' introduction to the definition of sexual masochism disorder includes this caveat:

"Milder forms of masochism between consenting adults, sometimes also referred to as "BDSM" or dominant and submissive, are not classified as disorders by the DSM-5. Diagnosis occurs when certain criteria are met."

This wasn't always the case. Previously, Sadomasochism WAS considered a "personality disorder" but that's not the case nowadays (except in severe cases with specific criteria).

Definitions get updated as greater understanding of psychology happen. Society can also change a word's definition AS WELL AS the perception and attitude towards a behavior.

I'd suggest getting an updated dictionary and only use older versions for historical reference.
Kurai Mori​(dom male)
1 week ago • Jan 24, 2023
Kurai Mori​(dom male) • Jan 24, 2023
@SBD, therefore definitions of words can and do change... as we describe here with sadomasochism. But when and where do publications fall out of contemporary usage?
SirsBabyDoll​(sub female)
1 week ago • Jan 24, 2023
SirsBabyDoll​(sub female) • Jan 24, 2023
Kurai Mori wrote:
@SBD, therefore definitions of words can and do change... as we describe here with sadomasochism. But when and where do publications fall out of contemporary usage?


The Oxford English Dictionary's database is republished with new words and older words every 3 months.
https://public.oed.com/history/rewriting-the-oed/

Merriam-Webster's gets revised completely about every 10 years (with the Collegiate version updated annually).
https://www.merriam-webster.com/about-us/ongoing-commitment

And Randomhouse Webster's Unabridged-second edition, was published in 2002.

Definitions and language changes by a process called "Semantic Change". Wikipedia defines Semantic Change as: "a form of language change regarding the evolution of word usage—usually to the point that the modern meaning is radically different from the original usage. In diachronic (or historical) linguistics, semantic change is a change in one of the meanings of a word. Every word has a variety of senses and connotations, which can be added, removed, or altered over time, often to the extent that cognates across space and time have very different meanings."