You’ve heard the famous song by Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody. Maybe you’ve even taken a particular liking to the bohemian style of interior design. But do you know the full definition of this word or where it came from?
This word is an incredibly useful word, and it has a rich, storied history. Still, many people don’t fully understand what it means or how to use it in their writing or their conversation.
So, today’s word of the day is bohemian. By the end of this short guide, you’ll have a solid understanding of the word bohemian, its definitions, its etymology, and how to use it.
What Is the Meaning of the Word Bohemian?
The word bohemian (pronounced bo ˈhiːmɪən) might look like a bit of a complex word. So, here are the dictionary definitions of bohemian.
- A person who is unconventional in their social life and how they live, especially a person who is involved in the arts
- Relating to a strange, informal, and artistic lifestyle
- A person from the region of Bohemia, an inhabitant of Bohemia
- Relating to the region of Bohemia and its people
As you can see, there are two categories of definitions for the word Bohemian. One relates to the unconventional lifestyle of an artist, and the other relates to a placed called Bohemia, which is now the Western part of the Czech Republic.
Artists have to live very strange and non-standard lifestyles. Because of the nature of their work and their often eccentric personalities, these lifestyles are often considered strange.
As the arts have become more appealing to the general public, a Bohemian style has emerged that has become quite popular, even amongst people who aren’t artists. It’s characterized by free-spiritedness that combines expressions from several cultures, has a bit of an eclectic feel, and focuses on nature.
Bohemia, Czech Republic
There is also the place called Bohemia. Bohemia was its own kingdom for several centuries and became a region of Czechoslovakia from 1918 to 1939 and again from 1945 to 1949, at which point it was broken up into smaller provinces.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, as the Bohemian people, also called Romani people, lost their culture and much of their land, they became somewhat of a nomadic people, or gypsies. So during the 20th century, the word Bohemian was used to describe the Roma people, or gypsies, of much of Western Europe.
Where Did the Word Bohemian Come From?
To help bring more clarity to the definition of bohemian, let’s look at the history of how it came to be.
The word Bohemia obviously came from the kingdom of Bohemia. The word itself comes from a Celtic people, called the Boii, even though the region was dominated by Slavic Czechs in the 5th and 6th centuries.
They bordered the country of Moravia and were introduced to Christianity in the 9th century. By the 11th century, the kingdoms and Moravia and Bohemia were unified under the Přemyslid prince Vratislav II and became a part of the Holy Roman Empire.
The kingdom of Bohemia had its ups and downs, and in the 1600s, it lost its status as a kingdom and by the 18th century, it was firmly a part of the Austrian empire. By the 19th century, the Czech language was replaced with German as the language of instruction in schools in the region, and Czech nationalism was suppressed.
At the end of WWI in 1918, the Slovaks and the Czechs joined together to create their own country, Czechoslovakia, where Bohemia was the largest and westernmost province. In WWII, the region was taken over by Nazi Germany, and it was restored by the Allies in 1945.
The Bohemian Style
Because of the tumultuous nature of the late 19th and early 20th century, many of the Bohemia people became vagabonds known as gypsies. They traveled around Europe as nomads, they loved art, and the Bohemian lifestyle was considered quite unconventional, as it became multicultural, arts-focused, free-spirited, and nomadic.
Today, that style, also called Boho, has become quite a popular trend, and the Bohemian style is well-established today.
What Are Some Examples of the Word Bohemian in a Sentence?
Seeing a word in context can help us better understand its definition and how you can use it in your own life. Here are some example sentences that use the word bohemian.
Her nonconformist, bohemian lifestyle just doesn’t have a lot of the conventionalities that you would expect in a normal life.
I love the bohemian style with all of its bright colors and beautiful nature focus.
He has such a bohemian and unconventional life that it’s just hard to ever find a time to spend time with him.
You might think the bohemian and hippie styles are similar, but there are some big differences in their origins.
She tries to be bohemian and avant-garde, but I think it’s a little overdone, and it’s not really her.
What Are the Synonyms of the Word Bohemian?
Here are some synonyms of the word bohemian that you might find in a thesaurus.
- Free spirit
What Are its Antonyms?
Here are antonyms for the word bohemian.
The Word Bohemian
Now you know everything you need to know about the word bohemian, its definition, its history, and how to use it. Use it confidently in your writing and your conversation. If you need a refresher on this word, come back to this article.