Origin of ‘freelance’

The word ‘freelance’ originates from the medieval mercenaries who hired themselves out to the highest bidder.

The term was first used by novelist Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) in Ivanhoe (1820) to describe a ‘free-lance’ (indicating that the lance is not sworn to any lord’s services).

In modern times the term morphed from a noun (freelance) into an adjective (a freelance journalist), a verb (a journalist who freelances) and an adverb (she worked freelance), as well as into the noun ‘freelancer’.