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Glossary of Terms: Exposing the Basic Nudist Vocabulary

We have heard from many first-timers at our monthly Meet-ups that they are confused by the correct usage of some of the colloquial terminology used at nudist venues and events. Nudists’ vocabulary, like the language in all areas of culture, morphs over time, and clubs in different regions of the country or members of specific clubs use some terms of these differently than members of other groups. However, the terms below should shed a little light on general definitions and help you navigate your way around the lawn during your first visit to a naturist event:



While this may seem pretty self-explanatory, clothing optional resorts often require visitors who wish to use the swimming pool, Jacuzzi, or sauna to do so naked. People who remain dressed during their entire visit to a clothing-optional facility may be viewed as a voyeur and, appropriately, asked to leave. Check the club’s policies before assuming that the choice is yours throughout the place.



Most nudists practice “dressing for comfort” – putting on or taking off clothing according to weather conditions, for example. However, clothing-free resorts, cruises, etc. expect members and visitors to remain nude as much as possible.


Naturist vs. Nudist

Although many use these terms interchangeably, especially in the United States, “naturist” is the preferred term in Europe. Naturist also implies a person with a greater appreciation for nature in general. Many naturist sites are campgrounds and beaches, focused less on the high-end amenities than other nudist resorts. Naturists are more active physically (volleyball, hiking, etc.) and practice healthy eating and a minimal impact on the environment. Many (but not all) also are non-smokers and drink very little (or no) alcohol.


Nude vs. Naked

Art historians have been debating the differences between the words "nude" and "naked" for centuries. Traditionally, "nude" is a term used to describe an unclothed person who has a degree of body acceptance and who is comfortable in his/her surroundings. Uninformed people like to use "naked" interchangeably with "nude", which is not the same.  We define "naked" as meaning "exposed" or "vulnerable."  Example:  “She was buck naked on the beach” implies some jeopardy. "She was nude on the beach" does not.



A term invented by AANR (the American Association for Nude Recreation) a few years ago as a play on the over-used term "stay-cation" (staying at home during one's vacation). On a "Nakation" the participants are partially or totally nude during all or part of it, usually at some nudist resort or on a cruise with other nudists.



Nude swimming.


Topless vs. Top-Free

“Topless” brings images of dancers on poles with dollar bills in their G-strings.  The term preferred among nudists is “top-free.”



This term refers to clubs or organizations that do not own property on which they gather. Members of non-landed (otherwise known as “travel”) clubs often meet for special events, such as a camping trip, volleyball tournament, or beach outing, or may gather at members’ homes to enjoy each other’s company. SCNA is a "non-landed" club.



A clubs or destination resort which owns land on which they may or may not have club houses, swimming pools, or other amenities which members and guests enjoy without clothes.  Outdated terms from the 1940's to describe landed clubs were "nudist camp" or "nudist colony."  We are not lepers!  Please do not use these archaic terms as nudists deem them offensive.



This word is often a “code” for “swinger clubs” in which sexual behavior in front of others is condoned. While people often refer to a nudist’s "lifestyle" when discussing the general attitude of naturists or nudists, talking about a “lifestyle resort” typically refers to one patronized by swingers. Many nudists use the phrase "chosen way of life" instead.



Those who wear bathing suits.  Nudists use this pejorative term to describe a non-nudist who endlessly speculates as to what is beneath the cloth of others, who peeks whenever possible, who believes on faith without ever having been to a nudist place that nudity equates to sex.



A fun commentary on a newbie's tan lines as opposed to the veteran nudist who has none. It is not meant to be insulting but be careful who you say it to!



A person who shaves much of his/her body hair off. Hairless genitals has become a popular form of self-expression during the past decade, as is body jewelry (placed in various places besides ear lobes) and tattoos.  Remember, it’s not polite to stare (or to make a comment).

Stay true to yourself, join the American Association of Nude Recreation  today!


The American Association for Nude Recreation - Western Region

The American Association for Nude Recreation

Western Region

23679 Calabasas Road, Suite 966

Calabasas, CA 91302

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