The name is generally considered to mean excessive modesty, and hence unflattering, and is often used as an insult. A person who is considered a prude may have reservations about nudity, participating in romantic or sexual activity, drinking alcohol or consuming other drugs, or participating in mischief. These reservations may stem from shyness or strict moral beliefs. Actions or beliefs that may cause someone to be labeled a prude include advocating or practising abstinence, advocating prohibition, advocating censorship of sexuality or nudity in media, disapproval of being nude in public, avoiding or condemning public display of affection, or exhibiting unusual levels of discomfort with sexuality, alcohol, drugs or mischief.
Like modesty, one's perceived prudishness may vary according to who is present.
In contrast, prude was originally a noble compliment. Throughout history, it was usually associated with wisdom, integrity, usefulness, and profit.
Sexually repressed or sexually repressive are other terms used to describe people who might be labeled prudes. The term Puritan is sometimes used in the same way, reflecting the stereotype image of members of the Puritan religious sect.
The degree of being prude can vary among different cultural frames.