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Counterculture usage[edit]

  • The term "freak" was in common usage by "anti-establishment" persons in the late 1960s and early 1970s (first out in California, I imagine). "Freak" became popular jargon with those opposed at that time to the values of the American and European mainstream. Back then, the American and European mainstream tended to endorse the popular music, dress, grooming and diet of the World War II generation, support the Vietnam War, and oppose non-traditional pastimes such as rock music festivals, recreational drug use, public nudity and "free love."
  • So in response to the denotative meaning of "freak" in common usage by virtually everyone else in the "modern" world, that of an undesirable oddity, a misfit never suitable for integration into the societal mainstream, the counter-culture adopted "freak" as a means of favorably describing its members.

Ironic use, perhaps? --Ed Poor 16:01, 26 October 2006 (UTC)


There is a quote listed by this date, do we have any earlier instances of this word being used? I am interested in its etymology, finding earliest instances usually helps in pinpointing that right? It looks like all uses in other language are derived from English at this point? Ty 13:45, 24 April 2010 (UTC)


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Not likely to meet the usual tests of adjectivity. DCDuring TALK 18:46, 29 December 2011 (UTC)

As in "a freak [event]", e.g. "a freak accident"? It passes the smell test for adjectivity: I don't know about any others. If it's a noun, we're missing the sense.​—msh210 (talk) 19:33, 29 December 2011 (UTC)
Any English noun can meet that. Therefore it is not a test for adjectivity. Comparability, gradability and appearance as a predicate are sufficient to distinguish an adjective from a noun used attributively. DCDuring TALK 20:31, 29 December 2011 (UTC)
Gradable, at least, which turns the question around: does it pass tests of nounness (as tested against adjectivity)?​—msh210 (talk) 20:54, 29 December 2011 (UTC)
AGF: "a freak" not modifying a noun and/or "freaks" not a verb would suffice.
  • 1907, w:Jack London, Before Adam, page 8:
    And I may answer with another question. Why is a two-headed calf? And my own answer to this is that it is a freak.
  • 1920, Onnie Warren Smith, Casting tackle and methods, page 67:
    There may be good points about a freak reel, but because it is a freak it will stand little show of even a fair try-out
  • 1938, Marian E. Baer, The wonders of water:
    It is a freak that people talk about when they see it. Not everyone calls it by the right name, and few people know how it gets to be what it is. This freak is hail.
-- DCDuring TALK 23:57, 29 December 2011 (UTC)
Great; thanks for the research. Did you mean "Comparability, gradability and appearance as a predicate are together sufficient" or "Comparability, gradability and appearance as a predicate are each sufficient"? And even if you meant the former, is there some smaller set that's also sufficient? (And on what authority?)​—msh210 (talk) 00:13, 30 December 2011 (UTC)
I think that meeting any one of the tests is sufficient for our purposes. I also think others agree, though the whole idea of fact-based challenges to PoS class membership doesn't seem terribly popular here. DCDuring TALK 00:30, 30 December 2011 (UTC)
I've figured out part of the reason that it passes the small test for adjectivity: freak [event] is not stressed on the first word as (I think) [attributve noun] [noun] is usually but rather on the second as (I think) [adjective] [noun] is usually. Is that a test for nonadjectivity? If so, or if not, on what authority?​—msh210 (talk) 00:13, 30 December 2011 (UTC)
That isn't a test I use as we don't have a corpus of pronunciations. It converts the verification process from fact-based to authority-based, IMHO. DCDuring TALK 00:30, 30 December 2011 (UTC)
I would argue that the adj. form from this root is freakish. It was a very freakish accident. for example. Does this strengthen the argument for "freak" being simply a noun used attributively? -- ALGRIF talk 16:42, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
If this is kept, we need to think about whether we need freak accident, too. Chuck Entz 00:21, 13 February 2012 (UTC)
Abstain. I don’t know what to think. If no one else votes in a week or two I’ll close this as no consensus. — Ungoliant (Falai) 00:54, 13 August 2012 (UTC)
Kept as no consensus. — Ungoliant (Falai) 20:01, 4 September 2012 (UTC)

RFC discussion: May 2007–November 2009[edit]

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Verb: still needs a rewrite. --Connel MacKenzie 17:10, 28 May 2007 (UTC)

done. Someone has added citations, clear definitions --Volants 11:47, 16 November 2009 (UTC)