Non-predicating adjectives

Another chapter in the great book of non-predicating adjectives: nude beach, characterized in the Wikipedia entry as:

a beach where users are legally at liberty to be nude. Sometimes the terms clothing-optional beach or free beach are used.

(for comparison, see this posting on naked X composites, with some nude X ones as well).

A race on a nude beach (no full-frontal, to satisfy WordPress):

Obviously, the beach isn’t nude. Instead, the relationship between the modifier nude and the head beach is indirect: people on the beach are (allowed to be) nude, nudity is allowed on the beach.

Naked beach seems to be rare in this sense; nude beach apparently filled the niche first. (You can google up tons of examples of naked beach, but they mostly have naked modifying a compound with first element beach: naked beach fun ‘beach fun while naked, fun on the beach while naked’, naked beach party, and the like.)

The earliest OED cite for nude beach is 1981, in an entry for the verb lifeguard: “lifeguarding at a nude beach in Malibu”.

But OED3 (Dec. 2003) does have two specialized meanings for nude:

Of an activity: carried out without clothes on. Also, of a beach or other place: reserved or designed for nudists.

In the first sense: nude bathing (1884, 1894), a nude sun bath (1966), a nude dash up Grass Street (1986).

In the second (the one relevant here): two cites, the first getting things back to 1978:

1978    K. Tynan Let. 21 May (1994) viii. 613   Dozens of beaches nearby, including a nude one and several topless. [note implicit topless beach as well]

2000    Independent 24 Apr. i. 13/2   Nude beaches were legalised long ago in every state except Queensland.

Google Books can take things back a bit before this, in The Nude Beach by Douglas, Rasmussen, and Flanagan (Sage, 1977); and in a quote from The American Language in the 1970s by Estrin and Mehus (Boyd & Fraser, 1974). I’d be surprised if it couldn’t be taken back at least to the 1960s.

3 Responses to “Non-predicating adjectives”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    And now, a viral video on video gaming in the nude; story here. These events are described as “nude (video) gaming” sometimes, as “naked (video) gaming” other times,

  2. catastrophic planning « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] much a non-predicating adjective (recent examples on this blog: active bottoms here, nude beach here); one hopes that the planning is not itself […]

  3. Shirtless hypallage | Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] are simply non-predicating uses of the Adj nude, and that was the treatment I gave nude beach in a posting on non-predicating […]

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