What is the difference between nude/naked?

As for me both has same meaning

Naked - (of a person or part of the body) without clothes.

Nude - wearing no clothes; naked.

How to use these words separately?


I think it was Robert Heinlein who said, "Nude is sexy. Naked is defenseless."

This is one of those cases where dictionary definitions of the two words might well be the same, but there are subtle differences in shades of meaning.

As others have noted, we generally use "nude" to refer to art. It's generally used to refer to lack of clothing in a "positive" sense: artistic or sexy. "Nude models", a "nude scene" in a movie, "nude beaches", etc.

"Naked" is usually used to refer to lack of clothing in a "negative" sense: defenseless, embarrassing, exposed. "Caught naked", "naked and helpless", "the prisoner was stripped naked", etc.

Also, "nude" is, I think, exclusively used for human bodies, while "naked" can be used in many contexts. You can say "the naked blade of a knife". No one says "the nude blade of a knife". Or, "When he realized the danger he felt raw and naked terror." No one would say "... nude terror".

  • Getting naked for the doctor or even getting naked with a lover is not negative, yet you wouldn't use nude in those cases... – oerkelens Jun 5 '15 at 8:13
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    Naked for a doctor: Yes, "negative" and "positive" probably weren't the right words; I was groping for the right words. (No pun intended on "groping" in this context.) Presumably you're not trying to be sexy for the doctor. You're being exposed, visible, so that he can diagnose your ills. – Jay Jun 5 '15 at 13:18
  • Still, when I'm with a lover, she's probably naked, not nude. And I wouldn't mind if she tried to be sexy. It would be very different from the doctor-situation, but still, unless the doctor wants to paint me, or I the girl, I wouldn't use the word nude :) (and if the doctor wants to paint me I am not paying for the consult!) – oerkelens Jun 5 '15 at 13:21
  • When I'm with a woman, she's usually wearing an overcoat and a chastity belt, but that's another story. Yes, you have a good point, that usage doesn't fit the thesis I was trying to build. I'm not prepared to abandon it entirely, but it needs refinement. – Jay Jun 5 '15 at 13:25

This is purely in the context of a person who's either naked or nude (not naked eyes, truth etc.).

While both mean the same (as dictionaries suggest), I think 'naked' is a bit offensive as compared to 'nude'. Because in art colleges, they have 'nude' paintings.

Said that, if a girl is nude, maybe, the purpose could be artistic. But, if a girl is naked, probably you peeked through some hole! That is the reason that someone may pose nude, but never 'naked'.

Again, I repeat that both are interchangeable in many cases unless you want to stay totally clear.

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    "if a girl is naked, there's something horrible happening." Do you have any reference for that bold statement? I may have to warn a lot of people, you see. Doe sthis go for naked males as well? Because then I should personally make amends to my shower rituals... – oerkelens Jun 4 '15 at 14:11
  • @oerkelens: Yeah, I've been known to do some quite (mutually!) enjoyable things with naked women :-) – jamesqf Jun 4 '15 at 18:28
  • @oerkelens cannot find other example, intensity withdrawn though! What I mean is 'nude' is open, willingly done. Naked is a bit offensive, unbeknownst or unwillingly done. But that's looking through microscopic eyes as I already mentioned. – Maulik V Jun 5 '15 at 6:36
  • If the doctor asks me to get undressed, I get naked, not nude. When I am with a lover, we may get naked, not nude. Both times are not offensive, certainly not unbeknownst and they are willingly done. To see a naked girl, most men don't have to peep through holes. There is nothing inherently bad about naked, there are plenty of completely normal situations where one get's naked. Waking up next to a nude girl sounds certainly less attractive than next to a naked girl... unless I'm an avid artist that wants to paint her. – oerkelens Jun 5 '15 at 6:58
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    Certainly not. There are cases where they are certainly different, but I don;t think that naked is always negative. As I said, I'd rather wake up next to a naked girl than a nude one. Your assumption that there is something negative about naked seems too generalised. If anything, naked just means "uncovered", whereas nude has, indeed, symbolic or artistic implication. The absence of symbolism or art doesn't mean anything bad. – oerkelens Jun 5 '15 at 8:12

OALD explains nude is mostly used in reference to art: a nude model, a nude painting, a nude photo.

  • Mostly yes, but certainly not exclusively. – Chenmunka Jun 4 '15 at 14:29

Along with artistic, nude is also a legal term, which naked isn't. In most states, indecent exposure (nudity) laws pertain only to post pubertal persons.

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