After thirty-nine consecutive days of editing countless pages of legal nonsense, gobbledygook, gibberish, galimatias; listening to pompous attorneys and egomaniacal experts spout meaningless ipse dixitisms, as soon as I resumed my journey on the Road to Homonymy, I ran out of gas. As I felt myself begin to buck and sputter, I shook my head and muttered, “What a pain in my butt.” I was certain that there wasn’t a thing anyone could do or say that could turn my frown around, that could make me chortle. Completely certain … until I received this timely note:
“Is it butt naked or buck naked? These are the kinds of questions I come to you for.”
So, while we are stalled on the Road to Homonymy, once again waiting for roadside assistance to arrive to save the day, let’s all take this opportunity to rest our minds that are weary from all the deep, philosophical pondering we do, the contortions we put our brains through, and let’s sit back and think about this simple conundrum for a few moments.
Is it butt naked or buck naked?
Buck naked means completely naked. This phrase dates back to 1915 and there are some who believe it has southern roots. Despite what some sources may think (southerners, perhaps?), butt naked is not wrong. It’s just a newer rendition with a less defined geographic origin. Its meaning is rather obvious and it is used three times more often than its elder counterpart.
So to answer my fellow conundrumian’s query, both are perfectly all right, perfectly okay. From my cursory investigation, the only thing I found was that buck naked is a tad bit more neutral; editors consider it more acceptable for print.
With that said, if you are so inclined to use one of these two idioms, colloquialisms, phrases, buck naked might be the safer way to go. But if you like being the butt of pranks, jokes, and snarky comments; if you can handle the brunt of the fallout, then say what you will. Just be ready to accept that the buck stops with you. Don’t try to pass the buck. And you might want to think twice before you buck the system.
(Oh, yeah – did you really think I wouldn’t work a little homogeneous homonymic magic into this short post? After all, we’re still on the Road to Homonymy.)
“Estelle Costanza: Every day it is something else with you. I don’t know anything about you anymore. Who are you? What kind of life are you leading? Who knows what you are doing? Maybe you are making porno films.
“George Costanza: Yeah. I’m ‘Buck Naked.'”