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I know there are a lot of ways to say it, but what is the most commonly used form?

2

セックス is the most direct word for it. It's likely not the most scientific way to describe it, but using セックス in any circumstance would make sense.

In Osaka, I've also heard people (particularly college students) say えっち as well. However, it's considered slang, and it doesn't quite mean the same thing.

  • I hear えっち a lot, especially in more recent media. – psosuna Jun 2 '17 at 6:23
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    エッチ is not, strictly speaking, copulation. Nor is it properly foreplay. エッチな would be titillating or salacious. エッチする would be more like heavy necking and petting -- making out. – Joel Rees Jul 1 '17 at 9:12
  • Is it derived from the word for the English letter "H"? – Andrew Grimm Aug 1 '17 at 10:10
  • @AndrewGrimm エッチ is not derived from the letter H, but that is related to how both are spelled in kana. I was once told that it means success (in a sexual manner), and I've heard conjugations like 自エッチ。Most of this I picked up from college students. Googling エッチの意味 I found the following definitions: 1.《名ノナ》性的にいやらしいこと。そういう人、特に男。2.《名・ス自》性的行為、特に性交。 – ajsmart Aug 1 '17 at 13:20
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Depends on context.

「[交尾]{こうび}する」 is, I think, a rather clinical expression, applicable to animals in scientific literature, etc.

「[性交]{せいこう}する」 is seen a lot, relative to humans, in somewhat formal or academic contexts.

A lot of the colloquial expressions are borrowed (often mis-borrowed) from foreign languages. None of them come to mind at once, sorry.

I bought a book called, I think, "Making Out in Japanese", or maybe it was "Making Out in Kansaiben" once, so I could try to figure out what my wife was saying sometimes. It didn't really help, which actually was not surprising.

Yet another half-answer, I suppose.

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