Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A person, especially a member or follower of the Beat Generation, whose behavior, views, and often style of dress are pointedly unconventional.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun a member of the Beat Generation; a nonconformist in dress and behavior.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A person associated with the Beat Generation of the 1950s and 1960s or its style.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a member of the beat generation; a nonconformist in dress and behavior

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Beat (Generation) + –nik.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Coined by San Francisco columnist Herb Caen in 1958. From beat (generation) + cutesy or ironic use of the Slavic -nik (Russian: -ник). This suffix experienced a surge in English coinages for nicknames and diminutives after the 1957 Soviet launch of the Sputnik satellite. Compare jazznik.

Examples

  • In the collective mind of the general public, the word beatnik became synonymous with juvenile delinquent.

    The Typewriter Is Holy

  • In the collective mind of the general public, the word beatnik became synonymous with juvenile delinquent.

    The Typewriter Is Holy

  • Although he never embraced the word beatnik, he never failed to identify himself and his friends as members of the Beat Generation.

    The Typewriter Is Holy

  • Shortly after the coining of the term beatnik in the late fifties, the paths of the Beat Generation and what most of America believed to be beatnik culture began to diverge exponentially.

    The Typewriter Is Holy

  • In a North Beach bar one day, Caen happened to overhear poet Bob Kaufman playfully invent the word beatnik.

    The Typewriter Is Holy

  • In a North Beach bar one day, Caen happened to overhear poet Bob Kaufman playfully invent the word beatnik.

    The Typewriter Is Holy

  • Although he never embraced the word beatnik, he never failed to identify himself and his friends as members of the Beat Generation.

    The Typewriter Is Holy

  • The aging beatnik from the psychedelic van, with his smelly tracking dog.

    Archive 2007-03-01

  • So you see, "gone" in beatnik slang means "really good" as in, "that Charlie Parker is one gone cat".

    "Dig It! Give Me Two Slices!"

  • * Of course, the beatnik is not actually calling Charlie Parker a cat.

    "Dig It! Give Me Two Slices!"

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • The "Beat" generation was the brainchild of Jack Kerouac who despised the word "beatnik" and the distortion of his ideas. Kerouac was respecting of and devoted to the Catholic religion:

    "It is because I am Beat, that is, I believe in beatitude and that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son to it... Who knows, but that the universe is not one vast sea of compassion actually, the veritable holy honey, beneath all this show of personality and cruelty?"

    "I went one afternoon to the church of my childhood and had a vision of what I must have really meant with "Beat"... the vision of the word Beat as being to mean beatific... People began to call themselves beatniks, beats, jazzniks, bopniks, bugniks and finally I was called the "avatar" of all this."

    --Kerouac article: "The Origins of the Beat Generation" (Playboy, June 1959).

    September 1, 2007

  • Interesting, oroboros. I wasn't aware of Kerouac's devotion to Catholicism (not that I'm well-read on this subject).

    September 1, 2007