Butt Naked vs Buck Naked

Which version did you say? We favored "butt naked," but were aware of "buck naked."

Historically, "buck naked" emerged circa the 1920s (earliest print reference I could find was 1928), and "butt naked" came a bit later. There's a print reference to "bare-butt naked" dated 1959, and "butt naked" began to appear in print frequently in the 1960s and 70s. I always sort of assumed "butt naked" was a corruption of "buck naked," but I suppose it could always be the other way around. What "buck" meant is a bit of a mystery to me, unless it's a major corruption of the earlier "stark naked."

2 comments:

  1. My family hails from the south, specifically Alabama and Mississippi, and they have used "buck naked" since Day One. And though I grew up in Connecticut in the 1970's, I always heard locals using the "buck" variation.

    And I'm not certain, but I believe the term "buck naked" may date back to slavery, when young, sellable black males were referred to as "bucks" and were often appraised for sale while nude. I have no source to verify this theory, but it's not outside the realm of plausibility.

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  2. My family lived in Montana, but via San Diego with roots in both the Ozarks and New Bedford, Massachusetts, and I only heard "buck naked" growing up. I assumed it was a reference to the semi-naked natives encountered by Europeans, the males of that group being sometimes called bucks. My wife is from Kansas, and her family always says butt-naked.

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