Mooning means to expose the bare buttocks as a challenge or a taunt. Although it was undoubtedly used previously in some settings, the word first came to national attention after it appeared in a report in the Chester, S.C., News and Reporter on 23 Apr. 1974. It was picked up and included in the 1989 edition of the Oxford English Dictionary , where it was defined and described as a slang word.
The act of mooning, although at the time not named as such, was reported to have occurred in eighteenth-century North Carolina. The journal kept by Benjamin Elledge of Wilkes County  recorded that on 8 Sept. 1776, the local militia  under Brig. Gen. Griffith Rutherford was on an expedition against the Cherokee Indians . "Some of Our troops saw 7 or Eight Indians this day," Elledge wrote. "One Indian flung up his Arse Clout & Smack't his arse at Our Men Tho [they] took Care to be On a Mt too far for Bullitting."
This early episode was brought to light on 26 Aug. 1997, after an incident of mooning reported by a resident of Charlotte  was publicized. Walking up the stairs to her condominium early one morning in July 1995, the woman encountered the bare backside of a man bent over at the waist and wearing no underwear. He was charged with indecent exposure, and the case languished for three years as it made its way through a lengthy appeal procedure. Finally found guilty, the accused appealed again, and this time mooning was ruled not to be indecent. The case ultimately went to the North Carolina Supreme Court , where the defendant's conviction was restored.
State of North Carolina v. Mark Edward Fly. No. 472A97. (North Carolina Supreme Court, July 9, 1998). http://appellate.nccourts.org/opinions/?c=1&pdf=MTk5OC80NzJBOTctMS5wZGY=  (accessed August 9, 2012).
Fowler, Thomas L. "Of Moons, Thongs, Holdings and Dicta: State v. Fly and the Rule of Law," Campbell Law Review 22. Number 2. Spring 2000. p. 253-315. http://scholarship.law.campbell.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1363&context=clr  (accessed August 10, 2012).
Wickman, Forrest. "Mooning: A History." Slate.com. Wednesday, June 27, 2012. http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2012/06/27/mooning_a_history_when_did_people_start_baring_their_butts_as_an_insult_.html  (accessed August 9, 2012).
Coan, John L. Letter to the editor. [Raleigh, N.C.] News and Observer, August 20, 1997.
1 January 2006 | Powell, William S.