(CNN)Therehe was, the leader the the free world, President lindon Baines Johnson, aboardAir pressure One stand in front of reporters, nude asa jaybird.

You are watching: What does naked as a jaybird mean

But why ajaybird? due to the fact that his initials were, L.B.”Jay”? – and also his wife’s surname was Lady-“Bird”?
Probably not.Early examples of the idiom, “naked together ajaybird” suggest that the idiom initially referred come the nakedness of freshlyhatched birds.
“As naked asa Jaybird” is one American idiom that method essentially the exact same as, “as nakedas a newborn baby.” But, vice versa, theimagery the a naked infant is straightforward and also literal, the link betweennudity and birds is much less obvious.Jaybirds never wear clothes, although your feathers keep them fromappearing completely naked.
The etymologyof the idiom has long been up for debate. words Detectivespeculatedthat it might be regarded the word, “Jay,” definition a rube or nation bumpkin –a native now finest known as part of “jaywalker.”The word, “Jay,” however, may be related to Aesop’s proverbial (orshould that be fabulous) Jay, who dressed self up in peacock’s feathers;only to learn that he to be still just a Jay underneath (but that’s a differentstory altogether - seemy post, Jayhawkers and also Jaywalkers).
ChristineAmmer, the editor of the AmericanHeritage dictionary of Idioms and CoolCats, optimal Dogs and also Other Beastly Expressions, speculated the the idiomreferred come the practically featherless state of an unfledged Jay. Newly hatched perching birds (includingjays) have nearly no down. Early examples the the idiom, and also its british precursor, “naked as a robin” (also a perching bird), indicate that Christine Ammer’s instincts to be correct.
The secondearliest exampleof “naked as a robin” that I might find is indigenous a debate around taxation andpayment of the national debt:
If Sir thomas adhere tohis doctrine, and also if that doctrine it is in acted upon, he will have actually the coat takenoff his back, and also will it is in left together naked as a robin twohours old; and I shall view him in a plight more wretched even than thatof any kind of of those who are now, together he, I dare say, sincerely professes, objects ofhis commiseration.
Cobbett’s Weekly it is registered (London), Volume58, Number 6, might 6, 1826, column 354.
Newly hatched Robin.

The earliestexample that “naked together a Jay bird” that I uncovered is from an open up letter come thethief who stole Malcolm D. Johnson’s pants; that was published under the crypticheadline, “Bolifuqua Cunneya”:
Steal Not, is an expressprohibition consisted of in the revealed law of God, and also D—d it is in he who disregardsit – together an one is the abhorred of man, and the accursed the God. . . .
“He that steals mine pursesteals trash,” but he the filched native me mine breeches, robbed me of the whichmay have actually enriched him; but which left me together naked together anunfledged Jay bird.

Newly hatched Blue Jays.

CharlesWhite, The Cashmere Shawl, one EasternFiction, Volume 1, London, H. Colburn, 1840.
Newly hatched Raven.

Newberry Herald and also News (South Carolina), September 12, 1894, web page 2.

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The phrase shows up regularly, if not frequently, after ~ 1899. Possibly its increase was influenced by the ax "Jay" (bumpkin), which dates to the 1880s, and also became increasingly usual throughout the 1890s and also into the at an early stage 1900s.
The Vancouver people (British Columbia, Canada), January 7, 1910.