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.”

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  1. Bunche

    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.

  2. J. Blessinger

    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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