beatniks

beatnik

[beet-nik]
noun
1.
(sometimes initial capital letter) a member of the beat Generation.
2.
a person who rejects or avoids conventional behavior, dress, etc.

Origin:
1955–60, Americanism; beat (adj.) (as in Beat Generation) + -nik

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Collins
World English Dictionary
beatnik (ˈbiːtnɪk)
 
n
1.  a member of the Beat Generation (sense 1)
2.  informal any person with long hair and shabby clothes
 
[C20: from beat (n) + -nik, by analogy with Sputnik]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

beatnik
coined 1958 by San Francisco newspaper columnist Herb Caen during the heyday of -nik suffixes in the wake of Sputnik. From Beat generation (1952), associated with beat in its meanings "rhythm (especially in jazz)" as well as "worn out, exhausted," but originator Jack Kerouac
(1922-1969) in 1958 connected it with beatitude.
"The origins of the word beat are obscure, but the meaning is only too clear to most Americans. More than the feeling of weariness, it implies the feeling of having been used, of being raw. It involves a sort of nakedness of the mind." ["New York Times Magazine," Oct. 2, 1952]
" 'Beat' is old carny slang. According to Beat Movement legend (and it is a movement with a deep inventory of legend), Ginsberg and Kerouac picked it up from a character named Herbert Huncke, a gay street hustler and drug addict from Chicago who began hanging around Times Square in 1939 (and who introduced William Burroughs to heroin, an important cultural moment). The term has nothing to do with music; it names the condition of being beaten down, poor, exhausted, at the bottom of the world." [Louis Menand, "New Yorker," Oct. 1, 2007]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

beatniks definition


Members of the “beat” movement in the United States in the 1950s. Beatniks frequently rejected middle-class American values, customs, and tastes in favor of radical politics and exotic jazz, art, and literature. The movement was often classified as bohemian. The poet Allen Ginsberg and the novelist Jack Kerouac are examples of beatnik authors.

Note: “Daddy-O” (a term of address); “Cool, man, cool”; and “strictly dullsville” are examples of slang expressions used by beatniks or by people trying to sound like beatniks.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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