Play punishment is a specific type of punishment used in a BDSM relationship to spark an erotic encounter. Unlike traditional BDSM punishments, a dominant serves up play punishments for trivial misdeeds rather than true behavioral breaches.
A dominant may administer a play punishment to their submissive for a minor misstep, such as overcooking dinner or forgetting to address their dominant as sir or ma'am. Play punishment does not look to correct these behaviors. Instead, it often serves as an act of foreplay and a way to build a sexual and emotional connection between the submissive and the dominant. A dominant may look for any tiny thing to play punish their submissive for, knowing they will both enjoy the erotic fun it triggers.
While pain may be an element of play punishment, it is not usually too intense or severe. Despite its differences, play punishment can look a lot like traditional punishment. A dominant may spank their submissive, tie them up or use erotic humiliation during play punishment. However, play punishment does not take the same negative emotional toll on participants that "real" punishment can. For this reason, some common BDSM punishments, such as the silent treatment or removal of privileges, may not work for play punishment. Play punishment is for the mutual pleasure of its participants. It can also be an emotional experience, although the emotions tend to be more positive than those "real" punishment triggers.
Play punishment is only used to punish a submissive for small and trivial missteps. It is never used to correct serious issues in a relationship or major problems with the submissive’s behavior. In play punishment, there’s an unspoken rule that, while the dominant is punishing their submissive, they are not doing it to correct their behavior. In fact, they hope the submissive repeats the behavior so they can play punish them again.
Play punishment is also sometimes called funishment—a portmanteau of "fun" and "punishment".