The common reference to those who practice Dominance and Submission.
As in the actual practice, the use of the capital "D" followed by a lowercase "S" signifies the fetish hierarchy.
Ancient History is filled with examples of relationships that revolved around one Dominant character.
Courtly Love, for example from Medieval times, was about Knights who served their lady loves, as they would their King/Queen.
Early concepts of a Man and Wife, have been compared to a lifestyle of D/s in that woman had little or no rights, were subject to the demands of their male partner, without question.
Unlike the Sado Masochism fetish, this is about people who prefer to dominate, or be dominated. Pain is not actually a requisite of this fetish.
It can evolve or cross over into this particular field, or actually be part of it, depending on the parties involved, and their preferences.
Actual physical contact is not necessary for engaging in this form of eroticism.
The concept is about one person dominating, another readily submitting to the demands.
Additionally it is more about TRUST than anything else, and normally does not include inflicting pain.
This can include a lifestyle, that goes beyond mere sexual satisfaction.
Specific contracts are part of this lifestyle choice, that clearly defines the roles each partner plays in the relationship.
Practice (Associated Acts):
Bondage is a popular form of one showing their willingness to be dominated, by turning over their ability to escape, to their dominating partner.
As in most BDSM cultures, a SAFE WORD is a common feature, to insure that the role playing does not go beyond one's personal tolerances, or in placing one in harm's way.
Many submissive partners will show their submissiveness, by the public wearing of a collar.
Other lifestyles also wear collars, but not as a sign of submission to another person.' Goths and Punk are two such examples.
The male dominant partner is usually referred to as DOMS, while the female dominant partner would be called DOMMES. Top can also be used.
Dominatrix is usually referencing a female dominant, for hire.
Subs is the most common term used for those who desire to submit to another person.
Switch is one who can play both roles, in that they can be a Dominant or Submissive partner.