This is a repost from "Thoughtful Naturist" wordpress blog
Difference between nudist and naturist
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
Every now and again, someone will ask about the difference between nudist and naturist. Much earnest debate goes on, conclusions are arrived at, opinions stated as fact, arguments swapped, anecdotes and examples aired, definitions from a range of sources given as proof.
But the problem is, they all miss the point. Simple observation shows that both in and outside of the naturist/nudist world, people hold a very wide range of opinions about these words, often coloured by complete ignorance of the lives of those of us who embrace social nudity; they know that we do x, y or z. Fact. Certainty. It’s obvious isn’t it? No it isn’t. Those words are a problem.
As we need to let them know of the joys of our lifestyle, its benefits and advantages, we need effective communication, but there lies the trouble, at the very outset we are presented with the barrier of those two words.
Some see the solution as finding a definition and a widespread view is that dictionaries contain those definitions, often quoted in the periodical discussions. But dictionaries are works that quote usage, they report how a word is used and try to show that usage by examples, comparison, context. The Oxford English Dictionary was set up and still runs on that basis, it is not a source of definitions nor should it be. If it were, people said to be gay would refer to happy, cheerful folk, those wishing to use the more recent meaning would be told by the definiton hunters that they are wrong and be referred to the dictionary for a definition. The OED now reports the modern usage, not the definition.
What is wrong is the desire for a definition, there isn’t one. All that can be found is a range of meanings made clearer by example and these meanings change, sometimes quite quickly. Then there are those who insist that language is governed by rules rather than guidelines. Luckily no-one told Shakespeare that or his work may have been rather less engaging. Language and words change over time, they evolve. Here is a good example, if one were to be governed by the dictionary, I should not use the word evolve, here is no survival of the fittest, no evolution of the gene pool by natural selection yet the word evolve has come to mean slow change, often with no easily understood reason for that change. So how did gay come to mean homosexual? Who cares, it just did.
The danger sign is someone saying “To me, the word naturist means……”. That contains the very essence of my case, “to me”, not the person to whom the communication is addressed. The meaning that follows may be heartfelt, it may be an outward sign of a passionately held view but as it is a personal view, it is of no use for communication to someone whose opinion ones wishes to change- someone who may doubt the benefits of social nudity and who thinks “naturist” means something quite different.
So I would make a plea, for all those who seek a definition of a word and then to convince others that their found definition is “correct”, give up now, you are wasting your time. No-one has ever managed to confine, define or control language, just look at the failure of the Institut Français to control “proper” French. They still use the terms le camping, le parking or le camera despite the efforts of those keen on definitions.
Language evolves. Let it.