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Naturist Camping - Glossary of terms background image

Naturist Camping - Glossary of terms

Naturist or nudist?

Whether you’re a seasoned naturist or just starting out, the terms and abbreviations relating to the subject can be a bit of a minefield. Let us run you through some of the most common.

Naturist or nudist?

Nudists Only
Nudists Only

If your favourite outfit is your birthday suit, then you can be a nudist and/or a naturist The terms can be interchangeable, to a degree, but perhaps a start is to think of all people who like going nude as ‘nudists’. Nudists just like being naked.

You could say nudism is the act of being naked, while naturism is a lifestyle that can encompass various issues like environmental considerations, respect for others, vegetarianism and healthy eating, teetotalism, yoga, physical exercise and pacifism.

The first known use of the term ‘naturism’ was in 1891 – improbably in British colonial India at the height of the Victorian era. British ex-pats of the time set up a club called the Fellowship of the Naked Trust, with the stated aim of allowing social nudity.

Nude or naked?

‘Naked’ is somehow stark and unforgiving. It is more likely to conjure up an image of someone exposed, and vulnerable.

‘Nude’ is more artistic, with less uncomfortable baggage. This is a body that intends to be nude. A celebrity cover shoot, resulting in a nude cover shot, sounds more acceptable, more artistic, more comfortable than a naked cover shot.

Landed Club vs non Landed Club

A landed naturist club is one that has its own physical facilities: a clubhouse with a function room, perhaps a bar and swimming pool, accommodation units and so on. Landed clubs are usually run by members on normal democratic lines, in the same way as a tennis club might be.

A non-landed club does not own these and so travels to meet at venues like hotels, resorts, swimming pools, hot springs and the like.

Top free or topless?

Meaning much the same thing, these are beaches where you are free to go without upper body clothing. Typically this is a bikini top for women. A swimming costume or shorts covering the lower area of the body must be worn at all times.

Clothing optional

Something of a hybrid, clothing-optional areas are places where you can wear conventional swimwear, or take it all off. Or you can remove some of your clothing. Anything goes and you are free to enjoy and express yourself as you wish. So nudity is allowed, or actively encouraged, while the wearing of clothes is perfectly acceptable too.


FKK Signage
FKK Signage

The German Freikörperkultur movement (literally translated as ‘Free Body Culture’) was created in 1898 in Essen. It aimed to celebrate the naked body and not view it as a source of shame or embarrassment.

In 1929 Time Magazine published an article describing the FKK as “the cult of Nudism”, the first known use of the term. The FKK came to endorse a naturistic approach to physical exercise, sports and community living, underpinned by an almost spiritual enjoyment of living life nude.

Free beach

A nude beach can sometimes be referred to as a free beach – a beach where visitors can go nude. Usually a public site, with no requirements for membership or registration, free beaches are either official (recognised and regulated by the authorities), unofficial (tolerated by locals and with police turning a blind eye as long as there is no unsocial behaviour), or illegal.


The International Naturist Federation combines member federations from over forty countries. The aim is to improve the naturist experience by developing a better understanding of the benefits of naturism with the public and to foster business relationships where appropriate and beneficial. The World Congress is held bi-annually, along with sports events and meetings.

Nudist colony

A nudist colony is an antiquated term rarely used these days. It was never an accurate term and implied some kind of displacement of natives – never the aim of any establishment or club intended for nudists or naturists.


Quite simply, the opposite of nudist. A ‘textile’ is how a naturist might refer to a clothes-wearer. In camping parlance, types of campsite might be identified as naturist or textile campsite.