What springs to your mind when you hear the word freelance? The usual suspects are likely to be ‘work’ and ‘self-employed’. Quite rightly so, as to freelance means being your own boss when it comes to choosing who to work for and for how long. In other words, unlike others who stick to their jobs for years and years, freelancers move from employer to employer selling their expertise to those who offer the best pay.
However, a curious English learner won’t overlook the presence of lance, that outdated weapon and a must-have for any medieval warrior on horseback. Metaphorically speaking, a free lance is a hired soldier (or mercenary) who will fight for whoever pays him the most. And this is how the word was first used by Sir Walter Scott in his novel Ivanhoe published in 1819.
Having originated as a noun, with time freelance evolved into a verb, adjective and adverb, whereas the noun got replaced by the newer term freelancer. Its meaning changed as well, though the idea remains the same – it’s just that modern day freelances/freelancers trade their knowledge and skills rather than their loyalty and readiness to die in battle.