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I see a lot of folks on Stackoverflow using fresher when describing themselves as beginners at any given topic.

I have never really heard of "fresher" as a synonym for beginner. I know "freshman" as a term used at American schools, but where does "fresher" come from? Where is it used frequently, and is it considered proper language, or more of a slang expression?

  • When I was at secondary school in the UK a fresher was someone who'd just arrived in the bottom year. Freshers were usually treated with derision, laughed at and made to feel awkward - this was in their own interest so that they could learn to behave to new kids who were going to arrive the following year. – Araucaria - Not here any more. Oct 14 '14 at 16:44
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    The term 'Fresher' is also regularly used for those in their first year at University in the UK. 'Fresher's Week' or 'Fresher's Fortnight' is commonplace for new students to settle in and find their feet (and the local pubs) – Alo Oct 14 '14 at 16:49
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    This looks like it might be a BrE thing. As far as I know AmE students still use Freshman. – Jim Oct 14 '14 at 16:50
  • It's also science fiction slang for a restroom. – John Lawler Oct 14 '14 at 17:39
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    Due to English colonial history, "fresher" is also widely used in Indian English. – Greg Hewgill Oct 14 '14 at 17:52
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According to dictionary.com, the term "fresher" is British slang for a freshman. I assume that's why they're using it to describe themselves as beginners.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/fresher

3

Fresher is a perfectly acceptable British word for someone in their first year at university, especially just just starting. It's perhaps somewhat informal but really slang. Another term for a fresher is first year. Freshman is the US equivalent.

Whereas freshman may be used by extension for a novice or amateur, I've not seen fresher used this way.

Fresher is originally university slang, using something known as the Oxford -er. Other words originally Oxford slang include rugger (from rugby) and soccer (from association football).

  • Over time it has become clear that due to the nature of the rules, as well as to its overwhelming preponderance over other sports which use the name football, that the game that is played by eleven on each side with a round ball, has the overwhelming right to the name 'football' (fussball, fotbol etc) above all other challengers. Thus the word 'soccer'is obsolete. – WS2 Oct 14 '14 at 21:10
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    @WS2 Over time it has become clear that...the word soccer has zero potential to be misinterpreted, whereas use of the word football serves only to engender ambiguity when used in North America. Thus purple things are always upside down. – Dave Magner Oct 14 '14 at 21:22

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