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Mooning is the act of displaying one's bare buttocks by removing clothing, e.g., by lowering the backside of one's trousers and underpants, usually bending over, whether also exposing the genitals or not. Mooning is used mostly in the English-speaking world to express protest, scorn, disrespect, or provocation but can also simply be done for shock value or fun.

Word history

Moon has been a common shape-metaphor for the buttocks in English since 1743, and the verb to moon has meant 'to expose to (moon)light' since 1601, long before they were combined in US student slang in the verb(al expression) mooning "to flash the buttocks" in 1968.Formerly, "mooning" was slang for "wandering idly" and "romantically pining."

Legal status

The legal position of mooning varies between legislations, from indecent exposure to legal self-expression. Some example cases include:


Two brothers of Zimbabwean descentmarker were charged and jailed for indecent exposure in 2006, for wearing traditional African loinclothes which leave the buttocks exposed. Whilst not strictly mooning, it illustrates the legal view on mooning in that country. The BBC reports that whilst this "reignited" a debate, "not many people in the capital are on their side".


A 2003 case saw two British tourists convicted and fined €920 each on indecent exposure charges.

United States

In 2006, a Marylandmarker state appeals court determined that mooning is a form of artistic expression protected by the United States constitutional right of freedom of speech. The court ruled that indecent exposure only relates to exposure of the genitals, adding that even though mooning was a "disgusting" and "demeaning" act to engage in, and had in addition taken place in the presence of a minor,"If exposure of half of the buttocks constituted indecent exposure, any woman wearing a thong at the beach at Ocean Citymarker would be guilty."

Defense attorneys had cited a 1983 case of a woman who was arrested after protesting in front of the U.S.marker Supreme Court buildingmarker wearing nothing but a cardboard sign that covered the front of her body. In that case, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals had ruled that indecent exposure is limited to a person's genitals. No review of the case by a higher court took place since prosecutors dropped the case after the ruling.

Notable incidents of mooning

  • In the Siege of Constantinople in 1204, the Greeks exposed their bare buttocks to the Crusaders after they repulsed them from the walls.
  • During the Battle of Crécy in 1346 when king Edward III of Englandmarker took Caenmarker, on the way to Crécy, several hundred Norman soldiers exposed their backsides to the English archers and many of them paid a high price for doing so.
  • The Etchemin tribe of Maine were noted for this custom by a number of early explorers of the Atlantic coastline.
  • In June 2000, a mass mooning event was organised outside of Buckingham Palacemarker in the United Kingdommarker by the Movement Against the Monarchy (M'AM). The idea was for anti-monarchists to show their dislike of the British monarchy by performing a mass mooning at their home. However, a large police presence prevented a large scale mooning, but even so, a few individuals mooned (although there were many more who turned up to the event but were put off mooning by the large police presence). Some of them were arrested, but others managed to pose for various newspapers, etc. This event is known as the Moon Against the Monarchy event.
  • The Annual Mooning of Amtrak is a long-running annual tradition in Laguna Niguelmarker, (Orange Countymarker) Californiamarker, United Statesmarker, where many people spend all day mooning at Amtrak trains; some even ride the trains on that day just so they can witness the event. This mooning has spawned a chain of "train moonings" throughout the entire country. On July 13, 2008, local authorities cracked down on the practice after a reported 8,000 people participated in the festivities.
  • In the 2003 World Athletics Final in Monaco, Tim Lobinger mooned the crowd on the podium after winning the pole vault. The IAAF deducted US$5,000 from his winnings for the stunt.
  • At the 2005 UK Music Hall of Fame awards ceremony, musician Ozzy Osbourne decided to moon the crowd after a set he played with his group Black Sabbath.
  • Patrick Devine, 19, from County Donegalmarker, Irelandmarker was arrested on 27 July 2007 for allegedly dropping his trousers as a dare in Saint Louis in Senegal. Devine, a student of Queens University Belfast, spent one month in jail for his alleged actions.
  • Englishmarker Premiership footballer Joey Barton was fined £2,000 for mooning Everton fans.
  • A tradition of thru-hikers Mooning the Cog has developed on Mount Washingtonmarker in New Hampshiremarker.
  • On January 9, 2005, Randy Moss of the Minnesota Vikings pretended to moon Green Bay Packers fans following a touchdown he scored. He was fined $10,000 by the NFL for the incident.
  • Roy Scheider, in a 1990s interview with Jay Leno, mentioned that he had mooned President Ronald Reagan
  • Three of the T-birds mooned a bunch of people in the 1978 film, Grease


  1. )
  2. .
  3. McBride, Sarah, "A Mooning Festival Is Something The Mayor Just Can't Get Behind: As Town Turns Its Back on 30-Year-Old Event, Will Train Flashing Go Into Eclipse?" The Wall Street Journal, July 10, 2009, p. 1.
  4. "Police to probe Barton incident", BBC Sport, 30 September 2006, accessed 30 September 2006

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