Hippie (etymology)

 Hippie (etymology)

According to lexicographer Jesse Sheidlower, the terms hipster and hippie (hippy) derive from the word hip and the synonym hep, whose origins are unknown.

The words hip and hep first surfaced in slang around the beginning of the 20th century and spread quickly, making their first appearance in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1904.   At the time, the words were used to mean “aware” and “in the know.”

In the late 1960s, African language scholar David Dalby popularized the idea that words used in American slang could be traced back to West Africa. He claimed that hipi (a word in the Wolof language meaning “to open one’s eyes”) was the source for both hip and hep.   Sheidlower, however, disputes Dalby’s assertion that the term hipcomes from Wolof origins.

During the jive era of the late 1930s and early 1940s, African-Americans began to use the term hip to mean “sophisticated, fashionable and fully up-to-date”, and the form hippie is attested as jazz slang from the 1940s.  Reminiscing about late 1940s Harlem in his 1964 autobiography, Malcolm X referred to the word hippy as a term that African Americans used to describe a specific type of white man who “acted more Negro than Negroes”. In his autobiography, Harry Gibson claims to have coined the related term hipster in the 1940s for use in his stage name. In the 1970s, Gibson remade his act to appeal to contemporary hippies, and is known as the ‘original hippie’.

In Greenwich Village in the 1960s, New York City, young counterculture advocates were named hips because they were considered “in the know” or “cool”, as opposed to being square. In a 1961 essay, Kenneth Rexroth used both the terms hipsterand hippies to refer to young people participating in African American or Beatnik nightlife.

Thank you to the people who help add all this great information at wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hippie_(etymology)