The word is recorded in its modern sense only since 1973. Before that, to streak in English since 1768 meant "to go quickly, to rush, to run at full speed," and was a re-spelling of streek: "to go quickly" (c.1380); this in turn was originally a northern Middle English variant of stretch (c. 1250).
The term "streaking" was coined by a reporter for a local Washington DC news station as he watched a "mass nude run" take place at the University of Maryland in 1973. That nude run had over 500 participants. As the collected mass of nude students exited Bel Air dorm, the reporter, whose voice was broadcast live over the station via a pay phone connection exclaimed... "they are streaking past me right now. It's an incredible sight!" The next day it was out on the Associated Press wire as "streaking" and had nationwide coverage.
Streaking is distinct from naturism or nudism in that streakers usually intend to be noticed and may choose a place with a large audience for their act, regardless of the risk of arrest (sometimes even intending to be remanded into police custody), whereas naturists and nudists generally prefer to be left in peace. It is also distinct from "flashing," in that the intent is generally not to shock or traumatize a victim.
Streakers may streak only once or a few times, possibly as a result of a dare, or may streak so often it can be considered a hobby.
The most public form of streaking is running naked before huge crowds at sporting events. However, many streakers seek quieter venues, such as a neighborhood at night after most people have gone to bed. Some have even found it especially satisfying to streak on rural highways in the very early hours of the morning, when there are not many commuters on the road. A number of streakers do not intend to expose themselves to others, but find it thrilling to do it in places that often have people present, but do not at the time of their streak. Streaking may be an individual or a group activity. It is not uncommon for videos of some of the more daring streaks to find popularity on the internet.
Male streakers are almost always fully nude, while female streakers are usually only topless. It is very rare to see a fully nude female streaker, with the most famous female streakers such as Erica Roe and Linzy Dawn Mackenzie only doing topless runs.
Streaking example from Cricket
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