This article is from the Piercing FAQ, by Anne Greenblatt with numerous contributions by others.
by D. W. Jones
Titrings turn out to have a longer history than most of us seem to
believe these days. A titring is a ring worn through a piercing in (or
just behind) the nipple. Today, such rings are growing in popularity
in certain segments of the population, amon g both men and women. The
required piercings can be obtained, for a fee, in many cities, and
there are jewelers who make jewelry specifically intended for wearing
in such piercings.
Some may object to the name titring, preferring the propriety of the
term nipple-ring. It seems odd to seek a proper sounding name for a
piece of jewelry most people in our society would consider inherently
improper, and I prefer the term titring for the same reason I'd prefer
to call a ring worn through the earlobe an earring, not an
earlobe-ring. I see no point in being annoyingly specific about
exactly what part of the ear is pierced. Similarly, a ring worn
through the nostril is, according to Indian women I've met who
routinely wear such jewelry, a nosering, not a nostril-ring. The
terms I prefer are short, descriptive, flow off the tongue with little
effort, and generally likely to be based on common and sometimes
vulgar English instead of on Latinate or scientific usage.
Adams, Cecil. "Chain Letter", from _More of the Straight Dope_.
Fuchs, Eduard. _Illustrierte Sittengeschichte vom Mittelalter bis Zur
Gegenwart, Das Burgerliche Zeitalter Erganzungsband_. Albert Langen,
This book turns out to be in 6 lavishly illustrated volumes (over
500 pages per volume) and Kern's citation was incomplete. The book
is a complete history and commentary on all aspects of sexuality,
from erotic art to clothing through the ages, along with courtship,
nudism, prostitution, and much more.
The passage cited by Kern is on pages 67 and 68 of the supplement to
Volume 3, in the chapter titled "Erster Teil, Erganzungen und
In 1898 a single Bond Street jeweller is supposed to have performed
the nipple-boring operation on forty English ladies and young girls,
and the lady quoted above also confirmed the spread of this custom
among the fashionable women of London. In fact many ladies, instead of
small chains fastened from breast to breast, and a celebrated actress
of the Gaiety Theatre wore a pearl chain with a bow at each end.
I have not read Pelham's work in its original context, but it appears
that both he and Fuchs made extensive use of the same English source,
one article in "Society," a journal unavailable to me. I would like to
find other sources, but have not yet done so.
Titrings have an interesting collection of names in other languages:
In French, "des anneaus de sein", literally, rings of the nipples or
rings of the breasts. I looked up "sein" in Larousse, and the word
appears to properly translate as anything from bosom to tit, depending
on context or convention.
In German, "der Busenringen", an archaic term, literally "bosom
rings." In German, "Brustwartzenringe" is the common term today,
literally "nipple-rings" (nipples are "breast-warts" in German).
In German, "intimschmuck", or in Swedish, "intimsmycke", intimate
jewellry or decorations, refers to all kinds of jewelry worn "below