Is the Word ‘Freshman’ Going Out of Style?

Frosh, freshmanAnd first year are all terms that are growing in popularity (instead of history freshman) to describe a freshman. Frosh is the only one of these to have an entry in our dictionary.


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The traditional word for a student in the first year of high school or college is freshmanbut since then there has been some competition in recent decades:

As every freshman in my department knows by the end of freshman year, “Little Ice Age” isn’t like that. It’s a small glacial. – Harm of Blij, Chronicle of the Association of American GeographersJune 2002

One of the main summer jobs of Res Life juniors is to run the individual characteristics of each newcomer through a program that matches a non-smoker, occasional drinker white person. beer from the suburbs, wear old Navy clothes and keep an extensive Phish collection. on his iPod with a cultural soul mate. — Barrett Sailor, binge drinking2005

Last fall, a group of freshmen interested in starting a Smith Quidditch team held an interest meeting and created a Facebook page, which attracted enough attention that they quickly established themselves. a team. — The Smith Alumnae quarterlySummer 2011

The last of the three seems to have the most institutional force behind it, but it doesn’t come naturally to everyone:

Popularity of ‘Freshman’ Alternatives

freshman (and its plural freshman) doesn’t do nearly as well as the other two (in print it mostly appears in a political context, referring to newly elected members of parliament), but it does make some enhancements in the language —though not enough to be included in our list. dictionary. Froshcoined in the early 20th century, has been more successful, although its slang feel means it’s best suited in informal contexts. First year (also styled as first year) is somewhat conspicuous in meaning, which makes its entry in our dictionary a lower priority than it would otherwise be, but it is likely to appear on our pages in the future. very close hybrid because of its growing popularity.

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But what about the old tried and true word freshman? It goes on, regardless of that particular gender -man part?

The answer to that question is yes.

References to an entire group of students during their first year at a high school or college are more likely to use the phrase “freshman class” than “frosh class” or “fifth grade” the first”. And the Internet is flooded with people posting pictures of themselves (or children) “freshmen”.

(Note: singular is freshman and plural freshman; when using the word as a descriptor, go with the singular, as in “their first year.”)

While some -man words have fallen out of favor since the late 20th century, when opposition to this form was first noticed by the mainstream media, it still exists in some terms — although usually with the kind of competition we see with freshman. Chairperson And vice president there is strong competition from chair And vice president (and the competition is not too strong from chairperson And vice president); And servants significantly less common now than service member (or military).

While freshmen, freshmen, freshmen and freshmen are short-lived, from freshman no sign of leaving.

Categories: Usage Notes

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