A Description of Nipples

I did a lot of vacation reading last week, and one thing that jumped out at me (not literally but if it had been it would have been awesome) is the relentless pursuit of cliches when describing nipples.

I'm sure you know what I'm talking about here: there's a sexy scene, and the characters undress. The sex scene – which is, it seems to me, more often from the male point of view than the female – includes a catalog description of the heroine's body.

First, I don't know why there's a need for a list of descriptions for each part, particularly the breasts. There are times when I see the catalog of naked parts and skim right over it, because it seems necessary only because the reader might need to be reminded THEY ARE NAKED NOW SEE THE NIPPLES?

Lately, the nipple descriptions are the ones that catch my attention… because they're all the same. The female nipples are pert, rosy, ruches, puckered, taut, and most often compared to fruit, like cherries, strawberries, or berries in general (no use of kumquat that I've found).

The monotony and sameness of these nipples is starting to bug me. It reminds me of recipes that suggest a dish might be great with a “crisp salad” or a “loaf of crusty bread.” No, thanks, I'll have a salad that's three days old and limp, possibly slimy, and I prefer my bread inside out, no crust.

Overstating the obvious is one thing, but I keep running into these nipples of monotony. Here, a handful of cherrypicked (snrk) examples.


Cool air kissed her skin, and Lucy was mortified to discover her breast bared, a small little apple cupped in his hand, with a dark berry for a nipple.
“Cherries,” he murmured as his thumb and forefinger gently pinched….


Pride & Passion
Charlotte Featherstone
December 2011

Pink nipples. Like ripe cherries. He'd always liked cherries.

Eternal Flame
Cynthia Eden
November 2010



If anything, her nipples were harder – ripe cherries begging to be plucked.

Fire Wolf
Anh Leod


He bent to take one nipple in his mouth. She tasted sweet, like ripe cherries, like a ripe pomegranate he'd tasted once in Mexico.

Lady Lavender
Lynna Banning
February 2011

Luc's eyes glittered darkly as he looked down at her breasts, the areolae surrounding the nipples a deep dusky pink, those nipples dark and swollen, like two ripe berries waiting to be tasted. Eaten.

His head lowered so that he might taste one of those berries.

Annie and the Red-Hot Italian
Carole Mortimer
January 2011


Her nipples felt like ripe berries rolling between his fingers, and suddenly he was overwhelmed by the need dot taste her, to draw her nipple deep into his mouth.

The Touch of Fire
Linda Howard
September 1997



He tore the fragile lace, but her breasts were released to him, her hard little nipples like ripe berries. A delicate, fragile pink. Hard, stiff.

Coyote's Mate, Book 2
Lora Leigh
February 2009


I do have to give a few props to Karen Anders, who worked actual cherries into the nipple scene:


Her nipples puckered, tightening into hard beads that looked as delicious as two cherries.


She curled her hand around the nape of his neck and drew his head downward….


Reaching into the colander, he grabbed a few cherries and crushed them, releasing the juices locked inside. Then he smeared his fingers over each of her nipples and heard her suck in a breath.


Deliciously Dangerous
Karen Anders
April 2010


While many of the women in romance have berry nipples (which sounds like the name of one of Strawberry Shortcake's less savory friends) men are not execpt from nipple cliche, either.


One flat male nipple came into view and she circled the areola with a fingertip.


Beyond Lust
Mary White
August 2005


Leaning forward, she braced her hands on the mattress next to him and licked first one flat male nipple, then the other.


Primal Male
Sasha White
November 2008


She found his flat, male nipples and teased them.


Still Mine
Mary Wine
May 2008


She looked down at her breasts, then over to Eirik's flat male nipples.


The Tarnished Lady
Sandra Hill
June 2011


I'm personally not a fan of the “flat male nipple” because if it were not a “male” nipple, WHAT THE HELL ELSE WOULD IT BE?

Copper pennies, that's what. Duh.

His skin gleamed like brown satin, the small flat nipples like dark copper pennies.


Somebody Killed His Editor
Josh Lanyon
April 2010

She toyed with his male nipples that were flat as copper pennies and felt delight when they became erect.


The Dark Earl
Virginia Henley
September 2011


His chest was wide and smooth, the muscles defined and his nipples as dusky as two copper pennies.

Secrets & Seductions
Pamela Toth


Do yourself a favor, and do not search for “nipples ripe berries” or any other variation of nipple monotony on Google:Books. It's worse than excerpts from Longarm, let me tell you.

So what to do with all these nipples, all this nipple monotony?


Ergo, it is Nipple Contest Time. Your task: come up with a description for nipples, male, female or both, that can stand in place of the cliched description. You don't have to reference fruit, flatness, or currency. You can compare them to whatever you want. Your job is to describe them as best you can.

I will be judging the entries in 48 hours, but you can “like” the ones you like best to try to sway my voting.

The winner shall receive the people's ovation and fame forever, and a $25 gift card to the bookstore of their choice. Whee!

Standard disclaimers apply: I'm not being compensated for this giveaway. Must be over 18 to win, while wearing flat cherries. Your nipples may and should vary. Sometimes they even look like thumbs.

Now: go forth and describe nipples with better descriptions!



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  1. Amy Lane says:

    I shit you not, I just finished writing this last night:

    Engall sort of wished Chandler would leave off the cap and the scarf, because he liked the color of Chandler’s hair and because Chandler worked out in the same gym Engall did (the one with the massive student discount!) and Engall knew from the showers that the guy’s chest was so tightly defined you could do an ink rubbing on it when he flexed.  That, and his little brownish nipples seemed to have little baby perma-boners, and Engall could see them poking through his T-shirts. 

  2. You asked for it.

    Somehow it didn’t bother him that her breasts sagged, like partly filled sandbags. The flush of her desire had him too caught up in the moment. Yet for such huge breasts, her nipples were surprisingly small. She could easily hide them with the tips of her pinkies, and they were like two flesh colored dehydrated peas.

    He loved peas.


    His body was far from romance cover model perfect. Tall and scrawny. What muscles there were weren’t well defined. Yet all she could think about was getting that body as close to her own as she could. He was so much taller than her. Grey sprinkled his chest hair.

    Actually, for a man who was close to 70 he looked damn good to her.

    His nipples were at the height of her eyes. They weren’t like they were described in books. Slightly raised with desire, like small pillows under a bedspread. They weren’t dark either, but pink in color, the pink of a crayon that had seen a lot of use, sprinkled with color from the other crayons.

    Oddly enough, that just made her want him more.

    This should prove you should be careful what you ask for!

  3. His eyes were closed, but his nipples stood erect, watching her, their areolae as dark as the deep chocolate pools of his irises, undressing her with their hungry gaze as she walked toward the bed.

  4. Inez Kelley says:

    SHAZAM!!  I actually wrote a blog post on this very thing. LOL So allow me to repeat myself with more elaboration.

    No more pink titty talk! Embrace diversity. Try a tangerine tip, a mocha morsel, a blackberry bud, a caramel crescent, or plum peak. Lave(not lathe) the cinnamon from her rigid nips, lick a glistening sheen along her pebbled flesh, tweak the extended buttons until they throb. Roll the rampant evidence of her passion. Mouth the succulent mounds. Suckle the sweetness from her taut skin and please, by all that’s holy, nibble the nectar of her succulent swells.

    Do not turn the knobs, flick the switch or honk the hooters. 

  5. SB Sarah says:

    Wait, his nipples are watching her?! AWESOME.

  6. Jorjalovett says:

    My hubby’s contribution to my nipple scenes – ‘Her nipples stood out like JCB starter buttons’ and the classic ‘With nipples so hard you could hang a wet raincoat from them.’ And I won’t even go into the character names…

  7. Aubrey Watt says:

    Her breasts were the kind of rocket tits that appeared during Cold War Playboy spreads, the smooth lines of skin tapering down to nuclear pink tips. His tongue wandered over into the demilitarized dark zone of her areola, skimming lightly over the tiny raised bumps as though trying to work his way through a particularly hazardous minefield.

  8. Jody Wallace says:

    Nipples like two left-over hot dog tips, the part nobody wants to eat because they look like wrinkled anuses.

  9. Alina says:

    Oh, the flat male nipples. Even the authors I love fall prey to that. Why? The breasts are different. Nipples, on the other hand (in the other hand? hee), are nipples.

    I love the metaphors and euphemisms used in Sheherazade’s tales: sand dunes and fountains. Why fountains? Maybe women in fairy tale medieval Arabia are permanently lactating?

    My entry:
    Her nipples beckoned him like elevator buttons. He pressed one to go down…

  10. Joni says:

    In Pamela Clare’s “Surrender” – Iain describes Annie’s breasts as “fruit..waiting to be plucked”. And in the anathology “All Tied Up” by Angela Knight, Galen comments her nipples are like cherries and they are his favorite fruit (twice!). Then puts them in nipple clamps.

  11. Kat Latham says:

    I just did a search on my manuscript and was glad to see that the only cherries are actual fruit. I don’t really mind the monotony of description when it comes to how nipples look. What does irk me is the outlandishness of nipple tastes. If my nipples really were as sweet as cherries/chocolate/caramel/toffee, I wouldn’t leave the house. And I’d be put a hell of a lot more effort into improving my flexibility.

  12. Ninjapenguin says:

    She smiled to herself as she bent her head to nibble at the perfect chocolate chips of his erect nipples. Mark gasped out a ragged breath and tightened the hand in her tangled hair. Not as sweet as chocolate, but equally as addictive, Jane thought.

  13. Wordgeeksarah says:

    She gasped as his palm grazed her bare breast and the sensation awoke her nipple, which had been sleeping like a hairless mole rat beneath the surface and now poked its fleshy muzzle out from the sandy lair of her aureola.

    His own nipples strained against his tight cotton shirt like a pair of over-excited rice krispies.

  14. Okay, guilty as charged. You’ll get no nip descrips from me… But the word that bugs me, and you see it everywhere, is “pebbled.” Her nipples pebbled, her pebbled nipples, yadda yadda. WHAT THE HECK DOES THIS MEAN??? To me pebbled means hard and lumpy, and I don’t want my nips to be lumpy!

  15. Tiffany Yelitza says:

    HAHAHAHH I am laughing so hard at my desk in work right now, THIS IS WHY I LOVE romance books, and this is WHY I love this site so much! <3 it !

  16. LG says:

    I don’t have a nipple description contribution, just wanted to say this post made me laugh. Anymore, the only way I notice nipple descriptions is if the nipples are something other than pink (I have seen at least one description that I can think of where the woman had brown nipples). Then there are the rock hard nipples, nipples as hard as diamonds (ouch), pebbled nipples…

  17. Darlynne says:

    Not an entry, but, man, I am off cherries now, possibly forever.

    This, however, made me snort:

    One flat male nipple came into view and she circled the areola with a fingertip.

    Is this like a ship as it hoves into view? Up or down periscope? Under sail? How does a nipple, flat or otherwise, come into view? The image of someone ranging over a naked male chest with a telescope and then circling the spot as it rounds a cape (or horn!) is just too nautical for me.


  18. KBR says:

    Where her chest once harbored two gorgeous cupcakes complete with a plump raisin on each tip, she now laid claim to a pair of prodigious bananas that seemed woefully bent on staring at her new pink bunny slippers.

  19. Jody Wallace says:

    Maybe the male nipples that came into view actually migrate on the dude’s chest, as needed. Is it a paranormal? It might be what the males of his species do when they’re in heat, as opposed to merely flexing their chesticles.

  20. Alice M. says:

    Her body glowed with innocence: an undiscovered Renaissance fresco, hiding behind the altar of a forgotten chapel. No man had marveled at it since it was painted there. Her nipples suddenly hardening with exposure to the air—like craquelure…

  21. Karolin Schmidt says:

    Hilarious!!! Made my day. 🙂 Thanks for this post. Greetings from Berlin!

  22. SB Sarah says:

    I cannot breathe, I am laughing so hard. OMG.

  23. MelanieK69 says:

    “Her nipples beckoned him like elevator buttons. He pressed one to go down…”

    Hope you were intending to be funny cause I’m still laughing! Thanks for that. 🙂

  24. SB Sarah says:

    Also: Inez Kelley’s column about nipple color from Leah Braemel’s blog back in 2009 is hilarious –



  25. Joni says:

    And not all male nipples are like flat copper pennies. Some are pointed, some are flat, some are weird and some are best not to be described.

    My husband’s contribution – sparkplug tips, points on a car engine (Jorga’s husband said JCP Starter buttons so they are brothers I’m assuming).

  26. SaraE says:

    I’m at work and reading the comments made me laugh so hard that I spit my lunch out! Fine job!

    I don’t have any suggestions for alternative means of nipple description, but I do get sick of the many, many “rosy, pert nipples” that I’ve come across recently. Perhaps the heroine could have nipples like lumpy tapioca. Yum.

  27. Joni says:

    A little off topic but these aren’t even close to being as bad as describing the southern regions of a woman or man. My favorite being “venus mound”. Or as Chelsea Handler says “Peekacho”.

  28. Joni says:

    Was the author trying to make us gag with that? I’ll never eat hot dogs again.

  29. Male nipples dotted his chest like two flat copper pennies. And she couldn’t shake the feeling that Abe Lincoln was leering at her from behind them…

    Her erect nipples tasted of two gummy Dots, the kind that came in the big box at the movie theater in sweet candy colors like pink and red and orange. As he closed his mouth over one of them, the feeling reminded him of those special times of discovery—of finding the last one in the box was the rarer, more flavorful green.

  30. The sight of her erect nipples haunted him like two troubling melanoma that really needed to be looked at by a professional…

  31. Jody Wallace says:

    Joni—if you never eat hotdogs again, my work here is done! Well, that’s probably a lie, I keep coming back to see what other descriptions have been posted.

  32. I have to go ask my hubby if they taste like cherries. or berries. or chocolate. he’s never brought it up before as being of importance. LOL

  33. Vcp6582 says:

    My husband suggested calling them bullets, but then he usually manages to turn almost everything back to weapons or cars…

  34. Brooklyn Ann says:

    I often compare my husband’s nipples to Hershey Kisses…they’re so little and cute. 🙂

  35. Eyes are TEARING I’m laughing so hard at these comments!!! The elevator one…DYING

  36. Jenny Lyn says:

    Talon strode up behind her, pressing his naked chest to her back. Two stiff, protuding points stabbed her in the shoulder blades. She jerked then realized what an oppurtunity this was to get that unreachable spot in the center of her spine scratched, so she did a little shimmy against him, like a bear against a tree. This only seemed to turn him on even more. Groaning, his palms came up to cup the swollen, ripe globes of her breasts, fingertips tweaking until her nipples stood out like two brand spankin’ new pencil erasers. Wait…did the channel on the radio just change?

  37. Suzanne Enoch says:

    OMG I’m guilty and laughing all at the same time. You guys are awesome and deadly.

  38. ksattler says:

    Or creepy? What kind of being can see via its nipples!

  39. India says:

    I hate the “flat male nipples” thing. We’ve invariably been hearing for x hundred pages how male this guy is, but—horrors!—if the author were to refer to those ubiquitous copper pennies as just “his nipples,” we might suddenly think that the dude looks like a lady?! Who are these hypothetical romance readers who don’t know that men have nipples, too?

    Elevator buttons FTW.

  40. There are literally no words awesome enough to describe this post and comments thread. They have completely made my day! Hot dogs, rockets and perma-boners for the win! 

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