A particular phrase was brought to my attention yesterday during the course of a conversation about an individual who was taken into custody sans clothing. That's right he was naked. However, was he butt naked or buck naked?

It turns out he was both but like the chicken and the egg conundrum which one of those phrases that both mean "completely without clothing" came first?

It was actually buck naked. Historians seem to believe that the term came about as a reference to buckskin, the leather early Americans made from the hides of animals such as deer. The light brown/tan color certainly could be misconstrued as uncovered flesh from a distance or in a fleeting glance.

Butt naked probably was noted to make its first appearances in our modern lingo during the 60s and 70s. While there were a few flower children who still donned buckskin at the time most people modified the term because when most people got nude you could see their bare buttocks.

So, what do linguists suggest as the most proper and best term to use when describing an individual who is dressed au naturel? Whichever one brings you the most joy. Seriously, you can't and won't be wrong using either term unless you make a poor choice of where you use the term. Then you could have some real explaining to do.