Period euphemisms or “slang” has been around forever. People use this “secret code” to refer to their menstrual cycle, mostly because periods have been and remain taboo, especially in certain parts of the world.
Origins of the word “period” — why do we call it a period?!
The word “period” is rooted in the Greek words “peri” and “hodos,” which translates to “around” and “way/path.” This eventually transitioned into the Latin word “periodus,” meaning “recurring cycle.” The English word period wasn’t actually used until about the early 1800s to describe a woman’s menstrual cycle.
Slang words and euphemisms: periods are taboo
The euphemisms used to describe your period go even further back than the 19th century. In the 17th century, both men and women described menstruation by referring to a period cycle as “them” or “those.” Since then, there’s been tons of different words or phrases to describe being on your period without actually saying “I’m on my period.”
Why period taboo can be bad
I’ve admittedly used many different terms over the years, and while they’re all pretty funny and entertaining to use, they can also be dangerous as they reinforce the idea that your period or menstrual cycle is something to be ashamed of or something that should be hidden from others.
Despite this, I understand periods can be uncomfortable to talk about at times, so sometimes using slang is easier.
It’s important to separate out genuine period taboo and using period slang.
Period euphemisms from around the world: weird menstrual words
I was amazed by the amount of menstrual euphemisms that exist. In fact, the period-tracking app Clue conducted a survey involving 90,000 people across 190 countries on their favourite period euphemisms and they compiled a list of 5,000 different phrases. Some of them are super weird. In Denmark, one of the common phrases for your period is “there are communists in the funhouse.” In Finland, people refer to their time of month as “mad cow disease.” Somewhere in the world people refer to periods as “birthing a blood diamond,” but the origin for that specific period slang term was unknown.
20 funny ways to say you’re on your period
As much fun as it would be to type out 5,000 different period phrases, I’ve narrowed my list down to my top 20 favourite “period slang” phrases:
- Aunt Flo/Flow
- Time of month/TOM
- Shark week
- Strawberry week
- On the rag
- Crimson wave/tide
- Mother Nature
- Code red
- Bloody Mary
- The blob
- Lady business
- Checking into the Red Roof Inn
- Red wedding
- Girl flu
- Monthly friend
- Having the painters in
- Moon time
- Cranberry woman
- The curse
There you have it! Next time your monthly present arrives, you’ll be prepared with this arsenal of ways to refer to your little red friend. On the theme of hiding your period, I’d also like to point out that if you add a pair of Knixteens to your wardrobe, you can stop leaks and keep your period to yourself.