What is the difference between the following sentences?

  1. I caught them watching tv in the nude.
  2. I caught them watching tv nude.
  • 1
    Irrelevant side note: 'naked' means you have no clothes on. 'nekkid' means you have no clothes on and you're up to something – Mitch Oct 8 '17 at 20:01
  • @Mitch And increasingly, both mean that you do actually have clothes on, just less than expected. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 28 '17 at 9:43

The two sentences have the same meaning, but the grammar is different.

I caught them watching TV in the nude.

The adjective "nude" is here a fused determiner head in the preposition phrase "in the nude" -- an idiom meaning "naked". Indirectly then, "nude" is a kind of predicative adjunct (or complement) with “them” as predicand.

I caught them watching TV nude.

Again, "nude" is an adjective, though here more clearly functioning as a predicative adjunct with the object "them" as predicand.

  • I realise that you have exactly answered the question, but do you, personally, have a preference for one or the other ways of expressing the wording ? – Nigel J Oct 8 '17 at 16:43
  • I prefer the first one, possibly because of the idiomatic use of "in the nude". – BillJ Oct 8 '17 at 16:50
  • Alternatively with “I” as predicand, if you’re into that sort of thing. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 28 '17 at 9:44

It would be more correct to refer to the persons in the incident as 'naked', actually. 'Nude' refers to an unembarrassing situation, not one which is inappropriate.


'Nude' refers to the human form, as such. 'Naked' draws attention to the fact that it is unclothed, and - generally speaking - it would be expected to be clothed.

'Naked' derives from the Old English meaning 'bare, empty, not fully clothed'.


'Nude' is the late Middle English from the Latin nudus, meaning 'plain or explicit'. [Quoted from my Oxford Dictionary of English]

  • 1
    More correct? No, it's just a nuance of meaning. – Mitch Oct 8 '17 at 16:13
  • 3
    This doesn't actually answer the question, which was what is the difference between "nude" and "in the nude". – Peter Shor Oct 8 '17 at 16:17
  • Admittedly so, but I think it is relevant and interesting, myself. – Nigel J Oct 8 '17 at 16:20

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