In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the word "freak" was used for heavy marijuana smokers (other drugs might be involved as well) in New England boarding schools and as far south as Pennsylvania.

My 16 year old son (public school New Jersey) and 50 year old colleague (public school NY) had never heard the term used.

I believe "freak out" is still used for a bad experience on drugs. But in this case, I mean simply "freak"--without any modifiers

1) Was this term used more widely than in boarding schools 25 years ago? 2) Is it still used anywhere? 3) When was it first used to mean stoner? (BTW "stoner"--a synonym, was not in use in those days, although the verb form "to get stoned" certainly was) 4) When was "stoner" as a noun first used?

  • 1
    See The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. – tchrist Nov 1 '14 at 14:10
  • Chic "Le Freak" 1978, big hit in the UK, and in the discos. Had no idea it meant drugs, thought it meant to go crazy :) – Mari-Lou A Nov 1 '14 at 20:00
  • I remember “speed freak” and maybe “acid freak”; and of course the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, who dabbled in all kinds of drugs though the green stuff was their favorite. – Anton Sherwood Nov 25 '19 at 18:24

Freak was common in the 70s and I was in public school.

"Freak" in slang usage connotes sexual activity or kinky sex. Urban Dictionary

  • I have heard freak used in both these senses but have only heard the sexual meaning in the past, oh, thirty years. I remember a counter culture type being called a freak back in the seventies and there is an old expression "let your freak flag fly" that refers to long hair on men, see urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=freak+flag - be careful, the last definitions on urban dictionary are NSFW, and don't strike me as authoritative. – Valerie Clark Dec 3 '14 at 2:13

To answer number one: Steely Dan has a song on their album Pretzel Logic called Charlie Freak. The song revolves around a man who sells everything he owns for drugs. So, with this example, we see that the word was used beyond boarding schools. (The album was recorded in New York, 1974.)

EDIT: Added year of song

  • So question #1 is settled by Gary and Arradras. I was surprised when I heard from talking to two colleagues (one 30, one 50), both from the NY area, that they had never heard the word. How about the remaining questions? – WhiskeyPapa Nov 1 '14 at 19:23
  • I'll continue looking, because I find this fascinating. If I find anything else out, I'll add it to my original post. – Arradras Nov 1 '14 at 19:26
  • Could you add the year the song was written/recorded? – Mari-Lou A Nov 1 '14 at 19:43
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA Added the year :) – Arradras Nov 1 '14 at 19:55

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