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I've found a lot of ways to describe sex, but can someone point me to the verb or verb phrase used to describe having sex in a way that isn't dirty, you know: "to have sex."

  • do you mean the word that literally means "intercourse" or just if you want o ask like "have you had sex?" if its the latter, casually you can just use やる. やったことがある? usually means "have you had sex?" but it is context dependent. – frei Mar 7 '17 at 3:50
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There are too many indirect expressions to write down so I will write some examples.

同衾する (どうきんする) to 'share' the sheet

This is pretty old fashioned way to say English equivalent would be to get shacked

e.g. 「彼女と―して居たら」〈荷風・あめりか物語〉

枕を交わす (まくらをかわす) to exchange pillows

This is also kinda old fashioned way but makes sense to most adults. A literary expression.

e.g. 「とほ妻と-・してねたる夜は/玉葉 恋二」

バッテリーを組む (バッテリーをくむ) to form a battery

This is a kinda slang but not so dirty. I often hear single middle aged women using this expression.

e.g. 「昨日Aとバッテリー組んでみたんだけどさぁ、ー」 < friends of my mother >

一戦(を)交える (いっせんまじえる) to fight a battle with

I like this expression. Sounds formal at the same time humorous.

e.g. 彼女とー前に、シャワーを浴びる。

アバンチュール (あばんちゅーる) aventure from French word 'l'aventure'

Young gal word I suppose. Often seen in world of popular song. Men rarely use this expression.

e.g. アバンチュールを期待してバーに行く。

  • Thanks mate! Also "adventure" is not a French word, "l'aventure" is. – Tirous Mar 7 '17 at 5:00
  • 1
    sorry mate, I mixed up. I corrected. – Wataru 'Watson' Subridge Mar 7 '17 at 5:03
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We usually say セックスする. And you can also say エッチする、愛し合う. They can imply "to have sex" and less dirty.

やる, 寝る can also imply it but I feel they are a bit dirty.

2

性交{せいこう}"to intercourse" is what I could think of.

0

Japanese has this phrase: 夜{よる}の営み{いとなみ}

How to discover

The phrase seems to be understood by Japanese adults and sometimes used in Japanese TV drama or animation series (I have heard at least twice from both real life and TV series).

Phrase variations

性行為 on Wikipedia has mentioned similar phrase that uses the verb 営み (text in bold):

表現例 [...] 夫婦同士による性交は子作りや夫婦の営み、夫婦生活などと言われる。 [...]

Weblio類語辞書 has listed other similar words and phrases, which supports the meaning "to have sex" however, may not be suitable for "non-dirty" usage:

性交 ・ 性行為 ・ エッチ ・ 合体 ・ 性交渉 ・ 交尾 ・ セックス ・ 性的行為 ・ 猥褻行為 ・ 同衾 ・ 共寝 ・ 交合 ・ まぐわい ・ 事 ・ ナニ ・ 情事 ・ 交接 ・ ファック ・ 房事 ・ 秘め事 ・ 男女の交わり ・ 男女の営み ・ ベッドイン ・ 肉体交渉 ・ 性の交わり ・ 性的な営み ・ 男女の契り ・ SEX ・ 愛の交歓 ・ 性愛行動 ・ 夜の営み ・ 濡れごと ・ エロごと ・ 色事 ・ 営み ・ 肉体の交わり ・ 情交

Additional notes

While the phrase is well understood by adults, some youngsters may not be familiar at all. There is one instance i.e. this thread on Yahoo!知恵袋 that someone asked for its meaning.

2015/10/3116:50:41

夜の営みって何ですか??

さっき男友達と話してたらでてきて・・・

[...]

中学生は深夜徘徊したら捕まるし、まず働くことさえできないと思うんです。

だから夜に営む(会社を??)って不可能なことじゃないですか??

[...]

The question seems to be asked by a clueless student from middle school, who wanted to know the meaning of 夜の営み; other friends only hinted that "of course you have experienced it, right". Then, someone posted an answer that writes, "It's about sex".

While the phrase 夜の営み is common, either the verb 営み or the noun 営む can be used to describe "to have sex" or "sexual intercourse". The closest translation in English is "nightlife", which refers to either sex parties (non-retranslatable in Japanese) or night amusement (retranslatable as 夜遊び).

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