Word of the Day


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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


a student in their first year of university

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary

Origin and usage

The noun fresher comes from ‘freshman’, a compound noun that referred generally to a newcomer or beginner before it started to be used to refer to a first year student at university. It has been in use since the late 19th century.


As students return to or start their university courses across the UK, the experience of this years freshers will be very different from that of students in previous years. The first week of university life for first year students is known as freshers‘ week; this is a time for new underegraduates to familiarize themselves with university life, and get to know other students. While the term ‘freshman’ from which fresher is derived is now generally associated with American English, freshman was used in British English from mid the 16th century. The informal American word for a university freshman is ‘frosh‘ (plural frosh) and frosh week is the name in the US of the week corresponding to freshers’ week. Different names are used in other varieties of English, such as ‘O-week’ or ‘orientation week’ in Australian English. If you know or use different terms please mention them in the comments below.


Massive thanks to everyone who participated in freshers events last week! Thanks so much for making them fun and safe, and a huge round of applause for the Elected Officers for working hard to put on such a variety of things to do in spite of the difficult circumstances.
(Chester University Student Union on Twitter)

Freshers‘ Week is there to help you settle into university life as quickly as possible.

Related words

alumnus, alumna, batchmate, sophomore

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

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Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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