In modern English pornography is a collective noun for suppressed material with sexual content i.e. pornographic material. Pornography can be novels, poetry, short stories, film, painting, sculpture, audio-visual or even performance art. There is, however, a deep ambiguity in meaning in the word pornography. As Webster 1913 points out the second part of the word is derived from the Greek word meaning to draw and the first half indicates woman when in a sensual or sexual aspect. It is not, however, clear that whether pornography originally meant drawing on women (lipstick, eye-liner etc) or drawing of women (the modern sense of pornography).

Material is labeled pornographic for several reasons:

The permissiveness and definitions of pornography varies from culture to culture. Some cultures such as the Japanese have tried to construct applicative rules to define pornography, thus banning pubic hair and images of penises, leading to the tentacle porn industry. Determining whether tentacle porn is any better or worse than any other kind of porn is left as an exercise for the reader. Many countries consider nudity to be perfectly normal in warm weather.