General English

  • noun an unusual type of person, animal or plant
  • noun a person who is extremely interested in something


  • noun a hippy, a long-haired (if male), non-conformist member of the ‘alternative society’ of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Freak was originally a term of abuse directed by straights at homosexuals and later at those guilty of outlandish behaviour and/or bizarre appearance. The term was quickly adopted by the objects of abuse and used as a badge of pride in themselves. (Hippies almost never referred to themselves as hippies after 1966; freak remained the acceptable epithet until the movement faded in the early to mid-1970s.) The word has now reverted to its original derogatory sense and is applied for instance to sexual deviants.
  • noun (as a suffix -freak) an enthusiast, devotee. From the mid-1970s the word was used in this sense, as in health-freak, eco-freak, etc. It was originally a hippy usage, as in acid-freak. The term now sounds dated and has partially been replaced by the less radical buff.
  • noun a sexually active or promiscuous person. This item of black street slang may be used pejoratively or appreciatively.
  • verb to lose control of oneself, become hysterical. A shortening of freak out, this term came, in hippy usage of the late 1960s and early 1970s, to have a negative connotation of alarm or over-reaction.