mmf, m/m/f, mfm, mm, what the?


Ever since I received an odd review on one of my books, I have wondered how much readers know about the weird terminology that abounds in the erotica world. “What the bloody hell are all those slashes?” some might have wondered a few years ago. Then the slashes disappeared and all that was left were letters. What’s with all those letters? The reader who posted the review probably didn’t know what mmf meant. Here is a primer:

The slashes originated with fan fiction, specifically when a cadre of enterprising writers began writing stories about certain characters on a beloved television show *cough* Star Trek *cough*. Seems many of the fans of this show decided that there was a ton of delicious romance going on under the surface and they categorized their stories with a sort of shorthand so that everyone would know what they were getting into when reading them. So, Kirk/Spock attached to a story meant that it detailed a romantic relationship between those characters. Yes, yes, a male/male relationship. M/M. Or as we would say today: mm.

Fast forward to 2012 and voila! Tons of mf  and mmf and mm and mfm and even mmmmmmmf all over the romance novels at Siren-BookStrand as well as other publishers. What  the hell? The slashes are gone and instead we’ve got a pile of letters. Personally I think everyone just got tired of typing all the slashes, especially when the abundance of mmmmmmmm’s began to come out (heh, punny).

Basically, the m stands for male. The f stands for female.

mf –> male with female

mfm –> male with female and another male, male/female/male. The guys don’t touch! Classic menage. Often involves brothers with one woman.

mmf –> male/male/female. The guys often do touch each other, as well as the girl. True menage!

ff –> female/female. Femme slash. Femslash.

mmm –> male/male/male. Guys all touching each other.

mmmmf –> male/male/male/male/female. Could also be mmmf or mmmmmmmmf or whatever. Everyone touches everybody. Most of the time. With trapeze (kidding! or wait, really?)

Crazy, huh? It’s code! It’s code just for us! Personally I think it’s cool to have a type of code that details exactly which body parts touch or do not touch in erotica. It makes buying the books much easier if you know what’s going to happen inside. It makes avoiding your squicks much easier. There are other codes too:

BDSM –> bondage discipline sadism masochism but it basically means a novel with any or all of these and included submission as well. There are a whole pile of fun codes that go with this!

BD –> bondage and discipline

Ds or D/s or D&S  –> dominance and submission

S/M or SM or S&M –> sadism and masochism

There’s a bit more involving tops and bottoms and switches. These terms aren’t really just used in BDSM however, they’re also used in mm fiction and sometimes in mf and ff fiction.

top –> the one who gives

bottom –> the one who receives

switch –> someone who is capable of both

A lot of these terms seemed to originate in the fan fiction communities across the internet, at least when applied to writing. There are also a ton of genres and tropes like sex pollen, bonding fic (ahem, like my Dream Marked series), kinks (knife play, fetishes, etc.), angst, fluff, and on and on. If you’re curious, check out Fanlore. It’s a great resource.

Anyway, maybe this will help when perusing the shelves at your favorite online bookseller. If you know what you like or don’t like, remember to check the book description for the erotica code. It might save you some money and quite a bit of angst.

7 thoughts on “mmf, m/m/f, mfm, mm, what the?

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  2. OMG!! Thank you so much!! I been reading books for so long but haven’t jumped into goodread til two years ago. Let me tell you, I was getting confused with all the abbreviation! Having to look up meaning online is so annoying…

    Reading through your explanation is so much fun and humorous.. definitely want to check out your books! If anything, I’ll bet it’s gonna be a jaw dropper!

    Again, thank you so much for the rundown of our erotica codes ;D

  3. I’m attracted to f/m books but always back out of reading them. A fantasy seems to lead nowhere but wasted time. I will have to adjust and enjoy what I do have in marriage.

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  5. What about fmmn, do the males touch. Looking at a book and it says only that but doesn’t say if there is interaction between the men.
    I buy mf, mfm, mfmmm. So I’d like to know what this would be

    • I think that once things get more complicated (fmmmm), like with reverse harem books, the question of intimacy between the men is less clear, and there’s no way to really tell. I wish we had an easy symbol to show that, but the labels are limited.

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