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My daily newspaper doesn’t often feature naked bodies — it’s not that kind of journal — so on opening it a few days ago I was mildly surprised to be faced, if that’s the right word, with a large photo of a naked guy’s bottom.

The male in the pic had been snapped while protesting against a ban on nudity in San Francisco in 2013. But the text alongside was a review of Mark Haskell Smith’s new book, Naked at Lunch: The Adventures of a Reluctant Nudist, in which he investigates non-sexual social nudism, as he is careful to describe it.

The most striking part of the review, ignoring the cheeky pic, were the words nakation and nakationing, both new to Brits. In context, it was obvious the words were an amalgamation of naked and vacation. That had to make it an American word; despite the increasing popularity of staycation in the UK, vacation is not the usual term for a break from work. We take holidays. (A uniregional version might help transatlantic communication. Anyone up for trying holication? We may reject vacaday as being silly.)

Nakation hasn’t achieved even the same small popularity as staycation, though it pops up from time to time. It seems to have appeared first in the Washington Post in February 2008. A piece about words for holidays cited a press release from the American Association for Nude Recreation (newsletter The Undressed Press). Their website attaches an R in a circle for a registered trademark to it wherever it appears, so presumably they invented it, though if they were hoping for big things from it they’ve been disappointed.

I also learn from the site that I’ve missed this year’s World Naked Gardening Day. Not in my rose garden, thank you.

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 1 Aug. 2015

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The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
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Last modified: 1 August 2015.