Which Is Correct: Buck Naked or Butt Naked?
Alright, I’ve done it again. Done gone and geeked up and put all that English major stuff of mine to work blowing almost an entire day trying to, once and for all, determine which is “correct” between the phrases buck naked and butt naked.
For those looking for the fast and simple answer to use for a paper or other written work, here it is:
Buck naked is correct.
However, both terms are regularly used, and given the frequency of use of butt naked in recent times, an argument can be made that there is nothing wrong with using it either. It may still be in the slang category, but it is slang that is used by a lot of people.
So, that’s the fast summary of my article. Go with buck naked if you need to get a good grade on something that is going to be read by some spectacles-wearing old professor somewhere, or if you want the longer tradition on your side. In fact, if you really want a good grade, just use naked and skip the buck part all together, since that’s not an essential adverb, and it’s practically slang too, just old slang. If you’re writing for yourself, for an audience that isn’t judging you for some stuffy reason, feel free to choose whichever you like better. The point of language is to convey meaning, and either will get your point across.
Reasoning and Approach
Alright, for the two people on the planet who will care beyond just getting it “right” on a paper or something, I spent some time nosing around the college library and in my Oxford English Dictionary. The OED does not have any listing for either term, which I confess was a surprise, because they do have some hyphenated buck-something type terms in there, and I have seen buck-naked written as a hyphenated word rather than a phrase. But, it wasn’t in there, nor was butt naked. So, I was left to my own devices. For the purpose of this article, I have divided the examination in half, with the first half of the article covering the OED trends and implications, and the second half looking at other research.
At first I did the basic Google search to see what I could come up with. I found a pretty cool conversation here and here, but I couldn’t really find anything that satisfied me completely. This second conversation did have some meat to it, but there was too much reliance in the first part on desktop dictionaries using lots of words like “probably” and “possibly” and on OED citations in the second that seem a bit like red herrings with more “probably” and “maybe” stuff in them. So, being the nerd I am, I set to the task of looking around to try to add further clarity. Since the “naked” part of these two phrases is not the issue, I decided to focus on the first word for each to try to find a “rightness” for one over the other. I may occasionally resort to humor or juvenile amusements along the way, but that can’t be helped, this is a research project that I did of my own accord and therefore subject to such things.
That said, I started with buck. In my opinion, there is no contest between appropriateness or most likely evolution of the term. Again, in my opinion, buck naked is clearly the “correct” term. Here’s what I found:
The Research: Oxford English Dictionary - BUCK
Buck in its original forms (buc and bucca) referred to a male deer (buc) and a male goat or “he-goat” (bucca) respectively, or at least all the best evidence and some reasonable thinking determine. The Oxford English Dictionary dates the terms back to at least the 11th Century, saying:
So far as the evidence goes, OE. Buc was used for the male deer, and bucca for the he-goat, but the instances are so few that it is far from certain that the words were thus distinguished in meaning. (“Buck,” sb1 Forms II: 609)
So, what we have on buck--as a prefix for naked--is the beginnings of an association with sex (gender), particularly male, and typically, as I will show, associated with breeding or sexual characteristic. The term goes on to have many definitions, but most are around this idea. Now, I’ll admit that the OED does not make this conclusion, but I don’t believe it is a long shot for me to draw this conclusion. But, you be the judge.
The first definition given is “The male of several animals” and goes on to list in sub-definitions the he-goat (used from 1000 CE through 1869), the male fallow-deer (1000 – 1774); the chamois; “any animal of the antelope kind, the male of the hare, the rabbit and the ferret” (1674-1904); “a ram” etc. (“Buck,” sb1 def 1 a-d II: 610). So, it’s not hard to see the association from long ago.
Further definitions include that of being a vaulting horse for gymnastics (something you “mount”) and of, perhaps ironically, of a “fop” or “a gay” (“Buck,” sb1def 2b II: 610).
Moving down the massive evolution and list are references to behavior that is typically male, and typically youthful male, and also to persons of Indian (S. American “Indian”), “…any male Indian, Negro, or Aboriginal” (“Buck,” sb1 def 2d II: 610).
Now, I have not done exhaustive thesis-intensive research into the historical and cultural roots for this particular entry, but I have had enough ethnic studies coursework and over-all literary and historical reading to venture that this use of buck was pronounced by whites as a condescending term. The first verifiable instance in English writing appears to be in 1800 and the last in 1964, this last a reference from Australia. I find it an interesting coincidence to see the term die out around the time of civil rights victories in the U.S., but, very possibly this is just that, a coincidence. Again, I am not declaring myself the keeper of English and diction, nor am I the person who can proclaim right and wrong regarding this term. I am merely reporting what I found, and tossing in the odd observation here and there.
During slavery, and during the Western expansion, attitudes about white superiority are well documented, and the dehumanization of “the other” with animal associated words are quite in keeping with that attitude. So were fears of sexual unions between “the other” and white women, fear of hyper-sexualized non-white men, and what seems to me a general sexual insecurity regarding the unknown or unfamiliar--which is what racial conflict is usually based in: what we don’t know and understand, we fear.
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In addition, the term “savages” was often used to describe native peoples, and descriptions or images of them being scantily clad abounded. There was at least a visual association with near nudity in this particular use, even if there isn’t a definition written somewhere acknowledging it. I don’t believe it requires a great feat of imagination to at least consider that, given this at least historically circumstantial evidence, using a sexually charged masculine term like buck, one that can be easily connected to scantily clad tribesmen, is in keeping with all these ideas. The professor (Prof. Paul Brians), participating in the conversation that I linked up near the start of this article believes the same, and he is quoted thusly:
“The Cassell Dictionary of Slang lists "buck naked" as early 19th Century and speculates, as did one of your sources, on "buck" as a variation on "butt"; but until someone comes up with an actual early citation, I'll stand by my etymology as more likely. Lightly clad blacks and Indians were commonly called "bucks" in the 19th century.”
His point was that his etymology, like what I’m working at, is based in reasonable evidence, not speculations. This does not make me (or him) right, nor does it make the origins politically correct. My point is not to pass judgment on language formed long before me, or you, or to write some revisionist or apologist history of those origins or likely origins. My point is to point out that there is a line of obvious evidence that points to one version as being the original and therefore "correct" use, and a total absence of evidence pointing to the other when it comes to finding evidence of long and broad use in the English language as widely spoken over a long period of time.
But if that’s not enough for you, I have more. Buck is also defined as “To copulate with” albeit initially said of male rabbits and some other animals. (“Buck,” v2 II: 611). The quote given in the OED is fun, so I’m including it, “Konyes buck every moneth” which is taken from a 1530s text listed only as "Palsgr. 472/1," but it made me laugh. That’s dirty talk from the 1500s. How fun is that? So, besides fun quotes and how fun sex is, the association with sex is proved in my opinion. Buck is not just a sex/gender term, it’s a sex term.
Sex is done naked.
You can argue that I’m making a huge, rabbit-like leap here, but that’s fine. I’m just pointing it out. All the arguments for butt naked are leaps, so it’s fair to include at least the better leaps for buck naked.
Speaking of naked leaps…
An association with clothing, or the lack thereof, can also be made directly. There are three references to clothes and by inference the absence of them, that have to do with linen and laundry:
- A washing tub, a vat in which to steep clothes in lye” (“Buck,” s3 1 II: 610).
- The lye in which it steeped relating to the first definition.
- “A quantity of clothes, cloth, or yarn, put through the process of bucking, in buckwashing or bleaching; the quantity of clothes washed at once, a ‘wash’. To lay the buck: to steep in lye. To drive the buck: to carry through the process of bucking. (“Buck,” s3 3 II: 610)
Now, the OED does not make the association with buck naked that I am. But, you have to admit that being naked is certainly what you would be if you were to have only one set of clothes and they were in the wash, being bucked. I would call that condition buck naked quite by definition.
Again, I am only postulating this. But, since there is a clothes association here, and a sexual association above (sex really is done naked, by the way… just because I’m an English geek doesn’t mean I don’t know that. I've seen porn.), it is at least plausible that the idea of being “buck naked” is a natural occurrence, even if I can’t actually trace it back to the first time someone actually said, “Buck naked,” out loud or wrote it on a page.
And hey, speaking of porn, what is it exactly that you stuff in a stripper’s g-string (or throw on the stage if she’s actually naked), eh?
Why you are quite right, A BUCK. She gets a buck for being buck naked. Hmmm, coincidence?
The Research: Oxford English Dictionary - BUTT
Being perfectly honest, butt naked has no precedent that I can find that isn’t recent. In my estimation, it’s a dialectical evolution that combines the obvious nudity potential that one’s backside brings to mind with a sound-alike or homophonic coincidence. We don’t see one’s butt unless they are naked, so the association there is a pretty obvious one. Plus, there is a near homophonic relationship between “buck” and “butt” that might also come into play. I can’t prove it; I can only assert my authority (whatever of it I might have) based on my formal study of English and my study of language in general as an evolving thing both within a single culture and as it relates to the mingling of cultures, which often create dialectical/colloquial versions of words, phrases and ideas.
The OED has several pages on the word butt just like it does for buck. However, in all honesty, there is not one thing in any of all that reading that I can even playfully associate with the term butt naked beyond simply: “3. A buttock. Chiefly dial. And collloq. In U.S.” (“Butt,” 3 II: 708), and “a mound or hillock” that mostly refers to butte spelled differently (“Butt,” sb5 II: 709).
That’s it. I’ll give it a huge stretch and say, a naked backside does look like a mound (or two) or a hillock, as the images I've included on the right will show. But for that to prove an etymologically viable link is really working too hard.
However, I’ll also concede that one OED definition is pointing out that it’s a backside reference--the backside of an animal like a pig. One violent and humorous old quote from 1450 read, “Tak Buttes of pork and smyte them to peces,” which I will translate for you, as: Take butts of pork and smite them to pieces. Kind of makes you wonder, what in God’s name did that pig do to piss that guy off that bad? I mean, sure, that could be an excerpt from a cook book and “smyte” means “chop up” like as if you’re preparing carnitas or something, but, were they writing cook books in 1450? I’m thinking not, that’s a little to close on Gutenberg’s heels to seem realistic to me. Plus, did anyone in Europe know about carnitas in 1450? I don’t think so, but hey, what do I know?
So, beyond smiting pigs to pieces, a small butt-shaped hill, and the acknowledgement that the use of butt as in “your booty” is “Chiefly dial. [dialectical] And Colloq [colloquial],” the OED is no help for attaching butt to naked. It’s definitely an American thing.
In fact, it may actually be a cultural thing too, although I admit I am really, really stretching here because my research was not exhaustive and is limited to what I was willing to do in five or six hours tops. However, I did run a basic EBSCO search through academic sources to see what I could find on the terms, checking to see who is using it, when and where. Based on my cursory look, there seems to be a black / white division suggested (which did come up in the conversation from my links above too).
The Research – Academic and Peer Reviewed Search
On searching the two different terms, I found twenty-two entries for buck naked and I found seven for butt naked. As I did with the OED examination, I will start with buck naked since it essentially won the contest for being the more correct of the two in my review. The purpose of this second section of my article is not so much to show "rightness" but to show who is using the term, where, when and why. My point is to build credibility for one term over the other given the writing credentials of the authors.
In a New York Times article on blushing, the journalist wrote, “Jane Austen heroines may pink endearingly at a subtle breach in manners; millions more glow like a lava lamp in what feels like a public disrobing: the face, suddenly buck-naked” (Carey). It’s a hyphenated version, but it still counts. So, my first piece of evidence for proper usage is found by this article, covering an academic study on blushing. This is an educated writer choosing this term to use in an academic discourse of a scientific nature. I think that is important to note.
My next example is a book about Doukhobors and, specifically, the Sons of Freedom. My point is not to go into the book itself, but to point out that it is a book written by a highly educated author, peer reviewed in academic journals, and published by a university press (University of British Columbia Press). The book: Negotiating Buck Naked: Doukhobors, Public Policy, and Conflict Resolution, by Gregory J. Cran (Friesen).
This is another example, perhaps a much better example, of a peer-reviewed, academic work written for educational purposes in the ethnic studies field. This is the title of the book, a very stand out position for the term, and one that at least implies a great deal of consideration by a smart author as to whether or not buck naked counts as correct grammar. Given the topic, and the audience, I count this as a strong piece of evidence in favor of buck naked as “correct.”
Next is a piece from mainstream media. In a Rolling Stone Magazine article, the lead singer for Eve 6, Max Collins was reported as having had a bit too much to drink by journalist Austin Scaggs, who wrote:
Collins went straight for the hard stuff after the band's May 26th show in Burgettstown, Pennsylvania — drinking shots of Courvoisier and Grand Marnier. "I was pretty drunk," he admits. Collins adjourned to his hotel room, stripped and ran around the hotel buck naked. At the front desk he asked for shaving cream, which he applied to his genitals. He spent a day in jail, pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and paid a small fine.
Notice that the use of the term here is coming from the journalist, a professional writer, and not part of the quote from the inebriated musician.
For another piece of evidence, I found a reference to an “Ode to a Buck-Naked Cowboy” on this search too, but the link through EBSCO didn’t work. I did find the article though, and besides verifying the use of buck naked it’s an interesting read written by a clever and seemingly well-read fellow. [that link was taken down as of 8/20/11]
Next is a People magazine article covering Brad Pitt and talking about his upcoming movie (Troy), they write:
After a two-year break from moviemaking, Pitt is returning to the spotlight and talking about his marriage to Jennifer Aniston (it's good), their baby plans ("It's time, it's time"), the joys of wearing a skirt in the movies ("They're not bad") and how he whipped his much-gawked-about body into shape for his Troy nude scene. Yes, nude scene. "Buck naked," Pitt says. (Adkins)
Now I admit, that example is almost cheating on my part, because the quote is actually Brad Pitt talking, and not the mainstream journalist. However, when Brad Pitt says, “Buck naked,” he should carry a lot of weight on this topic because, well, he doesn’t carry any extra weight when he is buck naked. Frankly, anyone in that good of shape gets to pipe in about how he should be described disrobed.
And I will point out again, that it is Brad Pitt saying it, not the journalist writing it as his own journalistic choice.
So, with all that written, I could go into all twenty-two sources, but I think I’ve at least made the point that academia, mainstream media and even guys who get buck naked in movies all say “buck naked” when they write for the national and world audience, and for audiences that might frown at unconventional or non-standard use of words. So, let’s have a look at butt naked and see what came up there.
Butt naked gets a rough start with me for being “good" grammar because none of the works in which it appear have the term being used by the writers or journalists themselves, the folks for whom grammar is essential to their careers. The uses I found, all seven of them at least, are more colloquial. It seems more a term of the people rather than of the writing establishment, and it is one that seems to be more African or African-American in use than in the larger populace (this was discussed in the conversation Professor Paul Brians was engaging in above). Here’s probably the best (or worst) example of this:
This is a link to a CNN.com video made by VICE (VBS.TV) that introduces a Liberian ex-general, who is known as General Butt Naked, a name he got for having fought naked at some point in his fighting career. It’s an interesting video, but you need only watch the first minute to get my point. (It gets kind of violent going further, so watch at your own risk.)
Below are the first three links that came up via my search:
After those three references, the next instance comes to me secondhand, but from the New York Amsterdam News. It comes in an article covering the murder of a child, and the community outrage that ensued because The New York Post actually showed the little three-year old in a picture for the article. I’m honestly a little oogy about using it as evidence, but it does add to my “colloquial” point, so I’ll do so with delicacy here. Simply, Councilman Charles Barron was infuriated by the decision to show that image by the paper, and he spoke out in an interview, in which he is quoted thus:
The New York Post is a disgusting rag. That paper needs to be banned. How dare they display that little baby, butt-naked and covered with blood on the front page. It shows that they have no regard for the family or the victim. (Arinde)
This quote is given, first out loud, not written, and secondly, this is an address meant to appeal on a human level, not an academic one. Rhetorically speaking, it makes much better sense for a politician to choose language that is not distant or sterile, and I think there is potential for this term to have at least some dialectical roots in the African-American community, given that all seven of the examples that came up in my EBSCO search are in one way or another, related to African or African-American stories or experiences and that it has been part of other discourses on this front as well, and also not to mention the pejorative nature of the other term. That all may be a coincidence, but I don’t believe it is so much a coincidence that it doesn’t bear at least pointing out. However, the main point I'd like to make with this one is that it IS a quote from someone speaking, not from a journalist writing.
Below are the remainder of the seven butt naked resources that came up:
I couldn’t get the article about Shaq to come up for some reason, so I went to the sixth item on the list, “Two Stage BLUES.” This reference was about blues musician Guy Davis and his album Butt Naked Free. Now I’m not a music critic, so I’m not qualified to discuss that at all, nor have I heard the album, therefore I can offer no opinion.
The seventh, and final article was also a blues music review, and the “butt naked” reference was to Mr. Davis’ album as well. And that was all of them. I only had seven to work with, and I didn’t want to make more of a project of this than it turned out to be. So I will leave it with that.
The bottom line being, for butt naked I can’t find any academic or popular media uses of this term, so it does not appear to be a phrase that is used by the writing community at large, at least not as is readily accessible by my admittedly brief research. I believe the phrase is a slang term, and perhaps one that is more prominent in the African-American community than elsewhere. More research would have to be done to confirm this, so I’ll just leave it as a speculation on my part and move on to my final thoughts.
The term butt naked appears to be mainly a slang term as of now, but one that is gaining popularity. The humorous first entry for buck naked on the website Urban Dictionary reads: “Americanized version of buck naked. Probably arisen from the Yank inability to speak English." I suppose that’s technically spot on, since I can’t find any solid academic or historical references to butt naked at all, and I will admit that we, as Americans, do take great pride in creating or embracing new things, especially when it comes to slang. Whenever an interesting or nuanced idea pops up somewhere, the nation typically leaps on it too, at least for a while.
The buck naked references I gave were taken from academia and popular media sources. These are all mainstream or academic publications who have an interest in not being slang ridden lest they risk losing credibility. Granted, one sites a quote from Brad Pitt, but I already gave my reasoning why that got in (writing stuff like this can be painfully boring if you don’t have some fun, and reading stuff like this can always stand an eye-candy break--I felt the bikini bottom pictures needed to be balanced out).
So, the bottom line is the same one that I made up near the top line of this article. Use by academia and media counts in my book, and the tradition of using specific diction in these types of publications, combined with the numerous and obvious historical connections between the word buck and acts of sexuality and lack of clothing, make buck naked a clear and obvious choice if one is seeking to be grammatically correct. Butt naked is slang. Maybe in twenty or forty years butt naked will become so normalized it will no longer be noticeable when someone speaks it, but for now, I am going to call that slang. Or at least, slangier than buck naked is.
Adkins, Greg, et al. "It's A Brad, Brad, Brad, Brad World." People 61.19 (2004): 17-18. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 29 May 2010. http://web.ebscohost.com.proxy.lib.csus.edu/ehost/detail?vid=3&hid=13&sid=bdc155dc-51cc-4ded-8c11-888a5e6e1cc8%40sessionmgr11&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=aph&AN=13089888
Arinde, Nayaba. "Tabloid's grave bad judgment." New York Amsterdam News 97.20 (2006): 3-38. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 29 May 2010. http://web.ebscohost.com.proxy.lib.csus.edu/ehost/detail?vid=2&hid=13&sid=c18075fd-af34-41a0-8fd8-c2f78190b617%40sessionmgr13&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=aph&AN=20968908
“Buck.” The Oxford English Dictionary. 2nd Edition. 1989.
“Butt.” The Oxford English Dictionary. 2nd Edition. 1989.
Carey, Benedict. "Hold Your Head Up. a Blush Just Shows You Care." New York Times, (2009): 5-4. 29 May 2010. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 29 May 2010. http://www.lexisnexis.com.proxy.lib.csus.edu/us/lnacademic/auth/checkbrowser.do?rand=0.3945620634623779&cookieState=0&ipcounter=1&bhcp=1
Friesen, John W. "Negotiating Buck Naked: Doukhobors, Public Policy, and Conflict Resolution." Canadian Ethnic Studies 39.3 (2007): 236-238. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 29 May 2010. http://web.ebscohost.com.proxy.lib.csus.edu/ehost/detail?vid=2&hid=13&sid=8bd33845-f391-43d7-9887-9587247f28cb%40sessionmgr10&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=aph&AN=37355071
Scaggs, Austin. "EVE 6, SLIPKNOT BUSTED." Rolling Stone 926 (2003): 18. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 29 May 2010. http://web.ebscohost.com.proxy.lib.csus.edu/ehost/detail?vid=2&hid=13&sid=d39a6446-f38f-4b12-b19c-ae47e1dd27b6%40sessionmgr10&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=aph&AN=12018634
David on January 30, 2020:
The term pork Butt came not from the part of the pig but from the barrel that pork we put in.
SO Buck naked could mean no clothes and wearing a barrel.
Dan on June 07, 2019:
Yogi Berra or Norm Crosby was probably the first one to say butt.
Mark Murphy on September 07, 2018:
My copy of the OED (Oxford Dictionary of English Third Edition from 2011) lists them both.
buck naked - adjective informal, chiefly N. Amer. completely naked
butt naked - adjective informal, completely naked
So it probably originated in the US with buck naked and only made it to this side on the Atlantic once it had morphed into butt naked. I can't say I had ever heard of buck naked before.
Karamarika on August 15, 2014:
I hate when language gets changed because people are too lazy or too stupid to say things correctly. A lot of people saying the incorrect version over time does not make it magically become correct. The purpose of language is to communicate effectively, but we cannot communicate effectively when we are saying the wrong things. I shouldn't have to interpret other people's words in my head. I wish others cared as much as I do about knowing what is right and wrong in regards to everything, not just language.
spookym on June 24, 2014:
"Buck" naked. "Butt naked" is a form used by an illiterate segment of the population.
Jody Schmidt on July 19, 2013:
Here comes the Puba and you know we don't fake it
Usually bust records on gettin' butt naked
360-What Goes Around
Shadesbreath (author) from California on October 30, 2012:
I'm with you on the "butt naked" sounding like someone's dropped trou. Maybe they're mooning someone or something, who knows? lol. And yeah, I sort of gathered as I was doing the research on this that "buck" might be a southern thing, so it's interesting to hear you say that. Appreciate the insight on that. (And yes, hoeing the road is hard, much as are towing the line and reaping what you sew.)
L.Harris on October 27, 2012:
Growing up in the American South, the term I always heard used was "buck naked". Not until as recently as the early 1980s did I hear the term "butt naked" and always assumed it was "Yankees" misusing another Southern term , just as Northerners tend to use the term "a tough ROAD to hoe" , when the correct version , which comes from the description chopping weeds from the gardens or cotton fields ,using a hoe , is a "tough ROW to hoe" , which meant that particular farmhand had unluckily been assigned a plowed row in the field that was most overgrown with weeds and was looking at particularly harder work day. One hoes a row , not a road, as roads tend to be made of concrete , asphalt , gravel , etc. and would be impossible to hoe.
Back to the original subject of "buck" or "butt" naked. The word buck is also used as an adjective in other Southern expressions , most notably "buck wild" , which means completely untamed or unmanagable. So , in that context , I had always assumed that "buck naked" means completely naked , whereas the term "butt naked" would sound as if only the backside were exposed.
Shadesbreath (author) from California on February 21, 2012:
Those deer and their persistent commitment to nudity!
And isn't that "smyting pigs" thing to die for? That's why research has not been completely removed from my writing regiment; it's those little gems right there.
Rochelle Frank from California Gold Country on February 20, 2012:
We seem to have a much larger population of deer around her lately-- and a noticeably higher percentage of large-antlered bucks. None of them are clothed.
Yes, we have the big bucks here...buck naked and jousting, buck naked, in our front yard.
I can't believe how much research you put into this-- even going so far as to reference "smyting pigs" to pieces. (Pork butts are so much more likely to be smitten than buck hindquarters.)
I think the first phrase in your title is certainly the authentic one.
Shadesbreath (author) from California on February 19, 2012:
Speechlessness is like like a naked voice. The question becomes, is it a buck naked voice or a butt naked one. Either way, thanks for stopping by, Sues. :)
Sues on February 19, 2012:
Wooow!!m left speechles
Shadesbreath (author) from California on December 20, 2011:
Well, Thomas the Correct, while that kind of thinking won't ever win in court, it certainly simplifies life, doesn't it? I frequently employ that same sort of thing in arguments with my wife, and so long as she is not a stickler for evidence, I often find myself with a 50/50 chance of persuading her.
Thomas the Correct on December 20, 2011:
Academia gone bad, again. Many many words do not a proof make. It is senseless to think of a buck as being naked. It is already, dork. The term properly applied employs BUTT, and to be far more succinct and every bit as logical, it is because I say it is.
Shadesbreath (author) from California on February 11, 2011:
See, you can be didactic and humorous all at once. But, yes, you probably noticed that the ads are gone on this. How sad, eh? It's because of the girls on the beach. But I refuse to take them down. If we are going to pretend that beaches don't exist in the name of appeasing advertising (hypocritical advertising that makes a spectacle of appeasing hypocritical religious sensibilities while at the same time serving up porn ads elsewhere) well, what can I say. I will get not let them pay me. That will show them. LOL.
Bronson_Hub from San Francisco, CA on February 11, 2011:
You sir, have indeed brought the LOLs.
Shadesbreath (author) from California on July 25, 2010:
Chirls, there's a board game called Balderdash that's pretty fun too, especially while drinking! I've never seen that show, but I bet there's some episodes on youtube I can find. So thanks. :)
And yes, "buck naked" totally destroys "butt naked" in a "which one is correct" contest.
chirls from Indiana (for now) on July 25, 2010:
Interesting hub! I find that the word "butt' is sneaking into a few too many words and phrases these days. "Buck naked" beats "butt naked", hands down!
There used to be a program on the BBC in the UK called Balderdash & Piffle - they explored the origins of all kinds of words and phrases to help update the OED. Some of them are very British but I think you might like it. Sadly, I don't think they did one on "buck naked", though!
Shadesbreath (author) from California on July 25, 2010:
I think this question is coming up more and more as the "butt naked" term gains momentum. Slang, particularly slang that is really, really close to the original, often a mispoken variant or a homophonic shift, is the root of a lot of grammar trouble. I'm glad this was useful. And thanks on the followers. Now if I could just get each one of them to send me $100 bucks. Hell, I'd settle for $10 even. :D
Audrey Kirchner from Washington on July 25, 2010:
Actually that question came up in a piece that I am putting together so thank you for that very detailed, marvelous hub to clarify the burning question! Congrats on your followers! WOW!
Shadesbreath (author) from California on July 24, 2010:
RebekahELLE, that Google/Iphone thing is my hope and dream for this effort. I don't mind if people use it wrong, I just want them to use it wrong on purpose. I'm the first person to cast aside grammar at will--I do it constantly in my hubs--but I try to make sure it's always on purpose. And, I am sort of with you on the price of the OED except that, I've come to love mine so much that I totally will spend it again when they come out with the next one, even though I know almost nothing will change AND I have online access anyway. LOL. How's that for being a geek? (BTW, you should click on that and buy one.)
rebekahELLE from Tampa Bay on July 24, 2010:
I just have to say, it could only be on HP that we have scholarly articles and a comment section on the correct usage of buck or butt naked. I think one of the funniest parts of this hub is the price of the OED!
there are important people all around the world this present moment wondering if they should say, buck or butt naked. this article will help them should they find it on their iphone google search! even the comment section is full of fun and good intentions.
well done! I enjoyed reading.
Winsome from Southern California by way of Texas on July 24, 2010:
I'm game. =:)
Shadesbreath (author) from California on July 24, 2010:
Or, if that's how it works, you could be a deer hunter come home without a kill, and, since no self respecting hunter kills doe's, you would obviously be buck naked when you arrived back at your cabin, your missus and lil' ones staring bleekly over the flies crawling amongst the tear sodden black reeds of their eye lashes, hungry and dissapointed that Pa has got no vittles again.
Winsome from Southern California by way of Texas on July 23, 2010:
Well now that you mention money perhaps that is the origin of the phrase--for who could not identify with the raw spotlighted nakedness of reaching for your wallet to pay for your beloved's dinner with the snotty waiter looking on (who already has intimated that your woman could do better) and find that you do not have a single dollar to your name--you are in fact, buck naked. I can just hear the father of our country chomping his wooden dentures in agreement. Any self-respecting citizen giving up all such hallowed symbols of truth and trust in God leaving himself or herself at the mercy of such judgment and scrutiny when legal tender is rightfully required earns the title: "buck" naked. =:)
Shadesbreath (author) from California on July 23, 2010:
Oh, now there is a damn fine response, Winsome. To begin, I hope you do write that article or I'mma steal the idea; that's how awesome it is. I also hope you bought that OED so I can buy some beer with your money... and hope that the proximity of that claim to the title of your article is only a coincidence. I am an optimist, however, so I will be waiting for the check from Amazon.
As for bucking buck naked thing, I can assure you it can't be the cowboy being bucked by the horse naked. I mean, being bucked naked by the horse. I mean, being on the horse naked while he is bucking. He being the horse, not the man. Although the horse could be a woman. Female. Anyway, the point being that a naked cowboy on a bucking horse would find his junk rather unpleasantly and repeatedly wedged between himself and the often prominent spinal bones of the horse doing the bucking, be it male or female, which would be unpleasant at best. So most assuredly it won't be the cowboy who is naked. Which means your original thought is the better one I believe, and the horse must have decided to be the naked one bucking. The real questions then become what the verb means there and how the horse took off his fur. Or her fur. Why do I suddenly have an image of a horse pole dancing out of its skin?
(I know they have hair, but fur is funnier :P )
Winsome from Southern California by way of Texas on July 23, 2010:
Ah Shadesbreath, I picked THIS one of your hubs to read first. I think that says as much about me as it does you. Of the 70 or so poignant and dazzling hubs I zero in on the buck naked truth of buck or butt. I noticed that even your writer neglecting prudence ended his buck naked cowboy article by saying the man was "bare-assed naked." Conflicted to the end as it were. At first I thought the article would be about a rodeo horse who liked to participate sans saddle so it could "buck" naked. Perhaps that is in fact the origin of the phrase referring either to the horse's proclivity or the buckaroo who wanted to show his skills riding bare backed or bucking naked--then shortened to buck naked. Not wanting to butt heads over a buck I'll just say superlative butt-kicking article and I can't wait to get to my OED for preparation towards my article: Which is Correct, Bald-faced lie or Bold-faced lie. =:)
Shadesbreath (author) from California on July 22, 2010:
Hi Wingedcentaur, thanks for reading this. I know I got pretty dang long-winded on it, so it's nice when someone has time to follow the full bootytrain of thought. It was interesting to research and it is one of those little things that, while little, it's nice to KNOW what the answer is, or at least how the answer works with reasonable clarity. And I'd LOVE to make the movie: how fun would that be? Thanks again for the read and comment.
William Thomas from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things! on July 21, 2010:
What can I say? I'm almost speechless! Almost. I've been meaning to read this piece of yours for some time. I laughed; I cried; I blushed.... I was going to make a wiseass comment to the effect of thanking you for addressing this pressing issue (and I do mean pressing, Ha Ha).
Then you got all deep and historical on me, talking about the use of 'buck' naked in connection with slavery of Africans and the indigenous people of America. Then there was that reference to the... child.
You know, I wonder how you'd be as a movie maker. I'd seriously like to see you do a documentary subject on this: BUTT OR BUCK NAKED: A NATION NEEDS TO KNOW!
Well done, Shadesbreath
See ya around.
Shadesbreath (author) from California on July 11, 2010:
Thanks for reading it, Elvaughn. It was informative for me digging this stuff up. Now we both know. :) Thanks for the comment.
elvaughn from California on July 11, 2010:
thank you for finally clearing this up! very extensive article. props!
Shadesbreath (author) from California on July 11, 2010:
Hi AC, thanks for stopping by. I have to tell you, this particular hub turned into way more time than I expected; I just started out to answer the dang question. By the time I was done, it was either humor or suicide. LOL. And I know, those rabbits killed me. I realize it gives away the true nature of my immaturity, but, well, I can live with that. :D And, those hills totally work, don't they? LOLOLOL, I'm glad someone got a kick out of that too.
(For what it's worth, and contrary to what I wrote in my most recent hub, I think including works cited helps with spiders as much as it does for credibility and fair use, etc.)
ACSutliff on July 11, 2010:
When you said, "If you have to write a paper that will be read by a spectacles-wearing professor...." I thought, Who would write a paper with the words 'buck naked' and hope to get a good grade from that bespectacled professor? I couldn't stop laughing.
Then you said you used google, and I imagined what came out of your searches and I blushed a little. ....Now I'm blushing again. How much of those google searches was actually relevant?
Then you jumped from savages to mating rabbits and "Sex is done naked," and I laughed some more. This was truly an awesome blend of humor, education (I will never say "butt naked" again!) and above all, excellent writing skills.
Mounds or Hillocks.... HAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!!
I loved the Sacramento state search results comparisons. The story about Max Collins was a hoot.
And kudos for posting your works cited! I HATED making works cited pages, and I could never do that for fun. You are a devoted writer, my friend.
Shadesbreath (author) from California on July 01, 2010:
That's what I keep telling everyone. I just need more people to listen! :D
Cindy Lawson from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on July 01, 2010:
Genius as always, I'm so glad I found this hub Shades, you are always the best :)
Shadesbreath (author) from California on June 26, 2010:
Hah, I should write one on Stark or Stork. How fun would the drawing be for Stork naked? lol. And I'm not sure what buck sexual attractants are, but I do hope they pay for the adwords or however all that works and put themselves on here. I love when ads appear that add to the joke. THat is one of the unanticipated joys of writing silliness in a commerical forum.
Bill Mello from Massachusetts on June 26, 2010:
I'm surprised you haven't selected any 'buck sexual attractants' for your affiliate ads. Your followers are looking forward to your upcoming hub on the debate between Stark Naked and Stork Naked. Good work.
mysterylady 89 from Florida on June 24, 2010:
I'll be lurking in the shadows!
Shadesbreath (author) from California on June 24, 2010:
Well, there's lots of time to work Aristotle in, Mysterylady. No rush. I'll expect it like Inspector Clouseau expects an attack from Kato.
mysterylady 89 from Florida on June 23, 2010:
Being a teacher - of English, among other things - i loved your correction of the person who tried to criticize your knowledge of grammar. As always with you, I found this to be a wonderfully entertaining hub. I wish I could somehow bring Aristotle into my comment. We still have to do battle on that!
Shadesbreath (author) from California on June 21, 2010:
Thank, William, that is an awesome compliment. To be truthful, I run that line simply because I would have to fall on my pen if I had to be serious the whole time. I just don't have the attention span for hard core seriousness. I am still shaking off immaturity this far into my adulthood. My wife says it may be hopeless at this point and we've resigned ourselves to a life of philosophy and bathroom humor. (sigh) :D
Hiya Habee, nice to see you. I noticed you had hit 1000 fans even yesterday, that's very cool, so grats on that! And I try really hard not to do stuff like correcting people, but you're right, it's pretty hard not to notice things, especially in writing. Spoken word is totally different (although I have some issues there too lol... okay, I guess it's not totally different. heh heh). Thanks for reading and commenting.
Holle Abee from Georgia on June 21, 2010:
This is awesome! I totally relate to the English-major thing. Sometimes it's a curse! Have you ever corrected a love letter??
William F Torpey from South Valley Stream, N.Y. on June 20, 2010:
Nicely done, Shadesbreath. Making etymology interesting takes a lot of talent, and so does riding the line between a scholarly treatise and a "fun read" (which I hope you don't dissect etymologically in your next hub.)
Shadesbreath (author) from California on June 19, 2010:
Hi Katiem2: You are certainly right, the real importance is on the naked part, the rest is superflous. I took some heat from a comment earlier on regarding my calling "buck" an adverb, but your point makes mine for me. Buck or Butt are indeed unnecessary modifier to what really maters... NUDITY! WOOT! :D
Hi Mighty Mom. Yes, I'm not here to defend Brad Pitt's character, and I can't say as I blame you for poo-pooing my use of him as a source. I did attenuate his importance though, relegating him as little more than well defined meat standing nebulously in support of my point. I was hoping to bring the simple-minded into my camp with that one, which may still work out, but yes, you caught me. I stand by the decision rhetorically, and just grin and raise my beer at you and your you-ness. Cheers. (Great to see you popping in again. It really, really is. It's like some of the things that matter in the universe are still at work.)
Susan Reid from Where Left is Right, CA on June 19, 2010:
A most interesting and informative read -- up until the quote from Brad Pitt. How can anyone trust him as a source on ANYTHING? Just read what he has to say about his marriage and baby-making plans with poor, innocent, soon-to-be-cuckolded Jennifer Aniston. Ha! You don't even have to read People or US Magazine regularly to know hhe may be naked, but he's hiding something (in the case of Troy, that would be any acting talent he may have displayed prior to or after)...
Sorry, but IMHO that OBVIOUS fabrication thrusts his credibility on the subject of buck-nakedness right into the toilet.
But other than that dubious source, a fine, fine treatise, indeed, sir. Well done!
Katie McMurray from Ohio on June 19, 2010:
What a detailed and information bit of knowledge on Is It Buck Naked or Butt Naked... I prefer to give power to one word and say it with emphasis "NAKED" the word is so beautiful way add anything at all to it... oh no do you feel another hub coming on? Imagine is there more to say about being naked? Great read, loved it! :)
Shadesbreath (author) from California on June 12, 2010:
Thanks Gerg. In some circles, they call me "anal retentive." LOL. I'd argue, but they're probably right. But, why not. I'm with you on that last part, now it can be one less imponderable to tax my brain too.
Appreciate the comment. Thanks. :)
Gregory S Williams from California on June 12, 2010:
Wow - when you decide to take on a subject, there is little doubt you are the definitive source...love it! One less imponderable to tax my brain ~ much thanks.
Shadesbreath (author) from California on June 04, 2010:
Well, yes of course, we must not forget that!
De Greek from UK on June 04, 2010:
No,no, no, not just ANY "someone". A "someone" who is older, wiser and HANDSOMER, let us not forget!
Shadesbreath (author) from California on June 04, 2010:
Nellieanna: Thanks once more for your kind words and for reading my long-windedness. I did end up doing more research than I expected when I started, but, well, that's how it goes for us anal-retentive types. lol.
As for the adjective thing, hah-ha! I love a grammar challenge. :) However, I am terribly sorry, but I must disagree with you on this. Buck is an adverb because it is modifying an adjective. Adjectives modify nouns; adverbs modify verbs, adjectives and other adverbs. So, examine the sentence: A buck naked man walked past our window. The subject noun is "man." That noun is being modified by the adjective "naked." It is a "naked man" that walked past our window. "Buck" is not modifying "man." It's not a buck man walking by the window. "Buck" is modifying "naked," telling us what kind of naked he is. He is buck naked as opposed to stark naked or hardly naked, etc. I am open to your rebuttal on this, but I am reasonably confident on this, so I'm interested to see what you think.
De Greek, I think your suggestion to let Goldman Sachs finance it is a grand idea, and I happen to have an in with a fellow that works in their aquarium department tending the vampire squids. I will call him and see if he can hook us up, perhaps making a vote unnecessary. I would also like to say I just chuckled at seeing Christoph's name in the same sentence with "illiterate populace" and "mundane." I lol'ed. I'll be calling the squid keeper right off, good thinking. Always nice to have someone keeping their minds on the day to day things as we dreamers tend to drift off.
De Greek from UK on June 04, 2010:
Naturally, I shall bow to your superior knowledge with regards to tutus. Let it not be said that the De Greeks are bullies, as implied by Christoph Reilley elsewhere. Pink it is then. Now as the older, wiser and handsomer man here, may I just point out the cost involved in this venture. As much as one would like to educate the illiterate populace (and here I again refer to Christoph Reilley as a case in point), one MUST consider the mundane, such as base coin. I therefore propose to this meeting that a vote be taken to invite a company renowned for its Christian business ethics and its desire to contribute to world education, to subsidise the venture. As you must have gathered already only one company can be on top of such a list, and that of course is Goldman Sachs. Mr Chairman, I ask that you put the matter before the rest of the inmates for voting purposes.
Nellieanna Hay from TEXAS on June 04, 2010:
oh oh. Either way, it's an adjective, rather than an adverb. (sorry - I couldn't resist - so seldomn does one catch an English language expert in a grammar goof. - hehe)
I'm awed by the article. You've researched as though it were a study of grand proportions, and with every nicety generously and perfectly accomplished!
As mentioned, to be able to proceed to elaborate and keep interest going is extraordinary! But I'd expect nothing less from you!! I just love to read your works! Never anything but fantastic.
Shadesbreath (author) from California on June 03, 2010:
Yes, me and the other two do stuff like this all the time. The rest of Sacramento drives to Tracy for the barbecued squirrel parties.
Laurel Rogers from Bishop, Ca on June 03, 2010:
I enjoy bucking far more often than once a moneth, I must admit. And say, you've done a superior job of utilizing your education, Shadesbreath! So this is what scholarly Sacramentans do on rainy days, huh? I drove through your town only yesterday on my way to Tracy-where they definitely say "Butt Naked."
What can I say?
Shadesbreath (author) from California on June 03, 2010:
Hi again, Pam. On the lazy thing, I suppose if I told you I should be working on my novel not these silly hubs of mine, you would purse your lips and raise your eyebrows in that knowing sort of "ah hah" sort of things, nodding slightly and realizing how sloth seeps in. As for the rest, well, Thanks. :)
Hi Zsuszy Bee, and thanks! I'm glad you laughed. I seriously wondered coming through this thing if it would work or be a heinous long-winded train wreck. I suspect there will be some opinions that think so, lol, but, well, I'll deal sarcastically with them and pretend I am shocked!
De Greek!!! That's an awesome idea. I think we should unveil it formally like a corporate announcement. All this slang slowly seeping into language thing is annoying in its glacier crawling into popular use. Let's rent a big studio, bring in some high end producers, get a big ass hart and a cute pink tutu (I prefer pink, don't you? It looks so nice and it has a traditional yet vibrant feel that white just doesn't do. Sky blue just irks me.) and we'll just send out the formal annoucement of "hart naked" to the entire world. Maybe get some dancing gang bangers to be in the back ground with switch blades, and they can step forward during the chorous and yell, "I'll cut you" in musical threat to anyone who tries NOT to use our new term. What do you think? A new grammar commercial to make Apple jealous!!!!
De Greek from UK on June 03, 2010:
Apropos to nothing and just my two cents worth to show that I am paying attention: Why not Hart naked? With all the introductory reference to horned deer and goats, why is it that the most ancient terminology, that of the Hart, has not left its mark? A male red deer traditionally hunted under certain specific conditions, one of them being its age (five years) and another its antlers (again age related) and one which would fight back if cornered, therefore admired for its maleness in its willingness to die fighting. Plus it has the distinct advantage of being referred to by Shakespeare? Definitely going around naked, as there are no reliable reports of its wearing a tutu. Shall we not try to introduce the new term Hart Naked to an expectant world, holding its breath for new language innovation?
Zsuzsy Bee from Ontario/Canada on June 03, 2010:
Shadesbreath the Funny, strikes again. Only you would come up with a hilarious hub on wordings that most people really do not give a hoot about.
I loved the works, as always a super hub
kindest regards Zsuzsy
Pam Roberson from Virginia on June 03, 2010:
You made me laugh again! This much work does not represent a person who is lazy!
The really amazing thing that I didn't mention last night (probably because you already know this!) is that it takes a really fabulous writer to be able to answer the main question very early yet keep the reader engaged through to the end, but you do it like a master. :) I enjoyed observing how you did it.
Shadesbreath (author) from California on June 02, 2010:
Well, Randy, I thought I "knew" too, until I did the Google search and found so much crap defending the worst examples of research. I don't even care where the grammar goes, my problem is with the people trying to pretend they have a leg to stand on with the arguments they make. And you're right, there's "right" and there's "cute" or slang. It's the people trying to say there is no difference that irks my sense of order in the grammatical universe.
As for the pulling of ads... when I was drafting this, I noticed an announcement telling me that ads had been suspended "possible violations... get a moderator to review" type of message, but by the time I hit publish, that message was gone. I can only hope the algorithms they use recognize key word density, word count, link quality (.org, .edu, vs. .com) etc. We shall see. I'm sure I'll have a cow on the forums if all this work gets wasted because spiders are stupid and can't tell the difference between a smut pictoral and a research piece. lol
Randy Behavior from Near the Ocean on June 02, 2010:
I can not believe you put this much work into this... you could have just asked me. It is buck if you want to be correct and it is butt if you're trying to sound cute. Problem being, so many people tried to be cute, it no longer is.
p.s. Let me know when and if they pull your ads. I'd like to know if butt is o.k., since ass obviously is not. Not that I can switch out butt for ass, as it does not rhyme with sass, but I'd still like to know for future writing I might do.
Shadesbreath (author) from California on June 02, 2010:
Sup, Reilly. I have to say, you have pointed out one of those delightfully nuanced, real life things that only a man with your perspicacity spots. This is why you are, above most, a true artist. We do, in fact, look at a naked chick's ass when we see it, rendering her condition, by definition, "butt" naked. Yet, when seeing a naked man, a truly disgusting sight that no one wants to see, "buck" naked gives us the sexual distance we need to talk about it.
The profundity of your observation is, uh, profund!
And, I thought we had a deal about, our little, well, agreement regarding my identity? Don't think that's not coming out of your cut.
Pam: 1) It's great to see you! 2) I'm just glad someone read to the end. I am pretty sure this is going to end up being a scanned hub, which is too bad because I tried to make it funny while dealing with the issue I had on this front. It's too unimportant for anyone to have done any real research, and too big and recent for there to be solid evidence anyway... so, yeah. I wish I had a Ph.D., but I'm far to lazy. So, instead I write anonymously, thus rendering all my work meaningless, to flout what I preach. LOL. But, in keeping with the older siblings in _Ender's Game_ I'll keep at it. :D
Pam Roberson from Virginia on June 02, 2010:
I have to say this is the most amazing hub I've ever read. The depth!! My expectations were surpassed. I wasn't expecting to laugh and be educated at the same time, but I was. I'm pretty sure this qualifies as one of those fancy doctoral thesis thingies. We'll be able to call you Dr. Shadesbreath or Dr. Buck Naked or whatever you wish. ;)
Christoph Reilly from St. Louis on June 02, 2010:
I can only agree, but enjoy the slang "butt naked" a little more perhaps. I've always used it with this guide: When a man sees another man naked, streaking, e.g., he is "buck naked." When you see a woman without clothes, she is "butt naked," since obviously you can't help looking at her butt.
What I want to know is why the laundry video is "In loving memory of the laundry room girl?" Has she met her demise? Now there's a hub.
I had to laugh at your "I am familiar with porn." Ha, ha. If everyone only knew that you are actually Ron Jeremy! Oops. I wasn't supposed to tell that, was I?
Shadesbreath (author) from California on June 02, 2010:
Haha, I know, this was supposed to be a little two hour hub while I waited for my wife to get ready for our road trip. I think it's up around 4200 words. If I'd known it was this big a project, I would never have started. But, I did, and, well, that anal-retentive thing kicked in and, well, two days later... lol.
And yes, I agree that, technically, you can make a pretty good argument that "buck" naked is redundant these days. SImilarly, so is "stark" naked as I saw it somewhere early on poking around the easy to find conversations on this.
Lela from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on June 02, 2010:
OMG! How many words is this hub? I have to go back to my Texas childhood to even hear the phrase buck naked. Butt naked would be redundant. Help!
Shadesbreath (author) from California on June 02, 2010:
See, you're like Brad Pitt then. If you look good that way, you get to pick how you want to be described. Me, well, it's more of a train wreck back there, so I have to rely on English precedents and stuff to defend myself. A few less beers and a trip to the gym would have saved me doing all the work for this hub (sigh).
Milla Mahno from Florida on June 02, 2010:
LOL I always go BUTT naked. But then my butt is pretty ;)