What Does Bodice Ripper Mean?

Bodice Ripper Meaning

Definition: A romance novel or show with a historical setting about the seduction of the main character.

Origin of Bodice Ripper

The expression first appeared in the year 1980. A bodice is a clothing item that women wore more frequently in the past, which covers their chest.

Therefore, a bodice ripper would refer to a person ripping off, or removing, that clothing.

Examples of Bodice Ripper

What is a bodice ripperThe dialogue below shows two university students discussing the novels they are reading.

Nisha: Hey, what are you reading there?

Alan: This? This is Fahrenheit 451. It’s really good.

Nisha: Oh, yeah, I read that a few years ago. It’s a classic. We had to study it in school. It’s got a really important message that I think everyone should learn about. I loved it. Let me show you my favorite part. Give me that book.

Alan: No, wait! Don’t take it!

Nisha: What’s this? Are you hiding another book inside the cover of Fahrenheit 451? Why would you do that? Whoa! You’re actually reading a bodice ripper!

Alan: I didn’t want anyone to see what I was really reading, so I tried to disguise my romance novel with the cover of a more serious book. I was embarrassed to be seen reading it in public.

best bodice ripper The second dialogue shows a father and son discussing what present to get the mother.

Son: I was thinking about getting Mom a book for her birthday. Do you know what kind of books she likes? I was thinking about getting her a cookbook.

Dad: I don’t think I’d get her a cookbook. She hates cooking, and it might seem like a hint that you think she should cook more, or be a better cook. Honestly, your mother really likes to read bodice rippers.

Son: Gross! I don’t think that’s an appropriate gift for a son to give a mother.

Dad: You’re probably right. Maybe we should get her a new purse instead.

Son: Okay, fine.

More Examples

The excerpt is about a TV show with romance, among other things.

  • After a very slow start, “Outlander,” from the book series by Diana Gabaldon, is a bodice-ripper with a sprinkling of science fiction, a fantasy drama with a bit of action-adventure. –Denver Post

This excerpt is also a review of another TV show.

  • “Addicted” doesn’t know whether it wants to be a modern-day bodice-ripper, a morality-tinged cautionary tale or a serious snapshot of sexual compulsion. Whatever the case, it fails on all fronts. –LA Times


The term bodice ripper refers to a genre within literature and film that involves a heroine who initially dislikes the male character but, over time, succumbs to temptation.