The Naked Truth About “Gym” and “Gymno”

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Our word gymnasium comes from a Greek noun meaning “place to be naked,” or “place to exercise.” The adjective was gymnos, “naked.” Greek athletes exercised in the nude.

The Greek gymnasium was for more than just working out. It was also a place for bathing and having scholarly discussions.

The founder of the “cynic” school of philosophy, Antisthenes, taught in a gymnasium in Athens. The name of his philosophical school is usually explained as a reference to the “biting” sarcasm practiced by its proponents. Cynic is from the Greek kynikos, “dog-like.” However, the name could have originated from the name of the gymnasium in which Antisthenes taught: Kynosarge, “Grey Dog.”

The prefix gymno– (gymn– in front of vowels) is frequently encountered in the study of botany and zoology.

gymnosperm: “naked seed” (evergreens like the pine, hemlock, and fir)

gymnorhinal: “having naked nostrils” (some birds have feathers on their nostrils; some don’t)

gymnogenous: “naked when hatched” (some birds are born with feathers; some aren’t)

The ancient Greeks gave the name gymnosophist to a sect of vegetarian Hindu philosophers who wore little or no clothing.

Some gymno– words refer to attitudes towards nudity.

The obsession of the “peeping Tom”; male voyeurism.
2. A compulsion to be naked.
3. An abnormal interest in nakedness.
Note: A male voyeur is called a gymnogynomaniac.

A reference to a desire to see naked bodies.
gymnoscopy: Sexual pleasure derived from viewing the nakedness of the opposite sex.

1. Having a special fondness for being in the nude.
An abnormal interest in nakedness.

1. A pathological fear of being naked.
A morbid dread of seeing a naked person or of an uncovered part of the body.

The sense that someone is mentally undressing you, or that a person is viewing you naked even though you are clothed.

There’s are even gymno– words you can use when talking about the Bible.

gymnobiblism: The opinion that the bare text of the Bible, without note or comment, may be safely put before the unlearned as a sufficient guide to religious truth. gymnobiblical (adjective) pertaining to, or holding, this opinion gymnobiblist (noun), a believer in gymnobiblism.

All the gymno– words you could ever want to see.

Fascinating article on the history of social nudity.

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