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See also: Freak


Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

1560, "sudden change of mind, whim", of uncertain origin. Probably from a dialectal word related to Middle English frekynge (capricious behaviour; whims) and Middle English friken, frikien (to move briskly or nimbly), from Old English frician (to leap, dance), or Middle English frek (insolent, daring), from Old English frec (desirous, greedy, eager, bold, daring), from Proto-Germanic *frekaz, *frakaz (hard, efficient, greedy, bold, audacious) (in which case, it would be related to the noun under Etymology 2). Compare Old High German freh (eager), Old English frēcne (dangerous, daring, courageous, bold).


  • enPR: frēk, IPA(key): /fɹiːk/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -iːk


freak (plural freaks)

  1. A sudden causeless change or turn of the mind; a whim of fancy; a capricious prank; a vagary or caprice.
    • 1815, Jane Austen, Emma, volume III, chapter 17:
      It would be a great comfort to Mr. Weston, as he grew older—and even Mr. Weston might be growing older ten years hence—to have his fireside enlivened by the sports and the nonsense, the freaks and the fancies of a child never banished from home;
  2. Someone or something that is markedly unusual or unpredictable.
    • 1907, 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.
  3. A hippie.
    • 1969 (but cites 1971 source), Eschholz, Paul A., “Freak compounds for 'argot freaks'”, in American Speech, volume 44, number 4, page 306-07:
      When long-haired, outlandishly dressed, drug-using hippies pilgrimaged to Haight-Ashbury in the early 1960s, they were quickly dubbed freaks; the pejorative appellation was both obvious and intended. It was not long before freak had become practically synonymous with hippie. It seems, however, that with the acceptance of long hair, the appearance and popularity of some rather bizarre fashions, and the emphasis placed upon "doing one's own thing," freak is no longer burdened with all of its former derogatory associations. Instead ... the word is beginning to acquire a quality which is favorable, glamorous, and somehow even admirable.
  4. A drug addict.
    • 1969 (but cites 1971 source), Eschholz, Paul A., “Freak compounds for "argot freaks"”, in American Speech, volume 44, number 4, page 306-07:
      Smith and Sturges [June 1969] note in their study of the San Francisco drug scene that freak means "anyone addicted to drugs."
  5. (of a person) A nonconformist, especially in appearance, social behavior, sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or business practices; an oddball, especially in physiology (i.e., "circus freak"); unique, sometimes in a displeasing way.
  6. (bodybuilding) A person whose physique has grown far beyond the normal limits of muscular development; often a bodybuilder weighing more than 120 kilos (260 pounds).
  7. An enthusiast, or person who has an obsession with, or extreme knowledge of, something.
    • 1968, Davis, Fred; Laura Munoz, “Heads and freaks: patterns and meanings of drug use among hippies”, in Journal of Health and Social Behavior, volume 9, number 2, page 156-64:
      Anyone ... who seems "hung up" on some idea, activity or interactional disposition, might be called a "freak."
    • 1969 (but cites 1971 source), Eschholz, Paul A., “Freak compounds for "argot freaks"”, in American Speech, volume 44, number 4, page 306-07:
      Presently ... college students ... use freak to denote any kind of enthusiast.
    Bob's a real video-game freak. He owns every games console of the last ten years.
  8. (informal, sometimes affectionate) A very sexually perverse individual.
    She's a freak in the sack!
  9. (dated) A streak of colour; variegation.
Derived terms[edit]


freak (third-person singular simple present freaks, present participle freaking, simple past and past participle freaked)

  1. (transitive) To make greatly distressed and/or a discomposed appearance
    • 1994, James Earl Hardy, B-Boy Blues: A Seriously Sexy, Fiercely Funny, Black-On-Black Love Story, (Alyson Publishing), page 107
      But after one night turned into five days, I was freaking out. I missed him.
  2. (transitive) To be placed or place someone under the influence of a psychedelic drug
    • 1992, Peter G. Stafford, Psychedelics Encyclopedia, (Ronin Publishing), page 56
      [] Harvard have compiled a list of LSD's contributions—largely missing before then—to our popular language: turned on, straight, freak, freaked out, stoned, []
  3. (transitive) To streak; to variegate
    • 1930, Robert Seymour Bridges, The Testament of Beauty: A Poem in Four Books, (Literary Criticism), page 20
      [] in fine diaper of silver and mother-of-pearl freaking the intense azure; Now scurrying close overhead, wild ink-hued random racers that fling sheeted []
    • (Can we date this quote by Thomson and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      Freaked with many a mingled hue.
  4. (intransitive) To experience reality withdrawal, or hallucinations (nightmarish), to behave irrational or unconventional due to drug use.
  5. (intransitive) To react extremely or irrationally, usually under distress or discomposure
Derived terms[edit]


freak (not comparable)

  1. strange, weird, unexpected
    • 2011 April 15, Saj Chowdhury, “Norwich 2 - 1 Nott'm Forest”, in BBC Sport[1]:
      A freak goal gave Forest the lead when a clearance by keeper John Ruddy bounced off Nathan Tyson and flew in.

Further reading[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English freke, freike (a bold man, warrior, man, creature), from Old English freca (a bold man, warrior, hero), from Proto-Germanic *frekô (an active or eager man, warrior, wolf), from *frekaz (active, bold, desirous, greedy), from Proto-Indo-European *pereg-, *spereg- (to shrug, be quick, twitch, splash, blast). Cognate with Old Norse freki (greedy or avaricious one, a wolf), Old High German freh (eager), German frech, Old English frēcne (dangerous, daring, courageous, bold).



freak (plural freaks)

  1. A man, particularly a bold, strong, vigorous man.
  2. (Britain dialectal, Scotland) A fellow; a petulant young man.




Borrowed from English freak.


  • IPA(key): /frik/, /friːk/
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: freak
  • Rhymes: -ik


freak m (plural freaks, diminutive freakje n)

  1. freak (oddball)
  2. freak (dedicated fan)