The various and hypocritical definitions of the word “hippie”

Published on January 14, 2013 by      Print
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By Joslyn Hamilton

vulture_greaseRecently, I made a derogatory comment about hippies to my mom—a hippie—and she, not surprisingly, questioned if I even understand what a hippie is. It made me pause and realize that I hypocritically use the word hippie in several different ways, and they swing wildly from flattering to contemptuous. In my generation, hippie has strayed from its original meaning. So I took the time to define it for her (and myself).

hip·pie noun \ˈhi-pē\


: When speaking about my parents, hippie means that they were part of a revolutionary culture movement in the ‘60s and ‘70s that involved a radical change in fashion, politics and social mores. They were antiauthoritarian, politically progressive, lived off the land, eschewed bourgeois modern amenities like dishwashers and Crisco, listened to Joan Baez and Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie on vinyl, and had long hair. They actually went to Woodstock. They turned on, tuned in and dropped out. This use of hippie is a compliment.

Contextual Example

“My parents were hippies, so my first babysitter was a record player and a bunch of vinyl Woody Guthrie.”




: When speaking about myself or my friends, hippie means that we are laidback, low-maintenance sorts (or pretend to be) who dabbled in mind-altering drugs in college and probably enjoyed a jam band at some point when we were much, much younger. Remnants of our hippie-ness have followed us into adulthood, like our penchant for natural foods, our aversion to fanciness, and our willingness to cleave to nature. We once lived in Boulder or Vermont. We spend a lot of time outside and have to really make an effort to wear mascara to the grocery store. This usage of hippie is self-effacing but ultimately a compliment.


Just plain lazy

Contextual Example

“I’m a hippie, so most of my shoes are boots and flip flops.”


: When speaking about other people, hippie means that are overly groovy. They lack boundaries and a proper sense of personal space, talk in vapid new age platitudes, don’t properly attend to body hair below the fold, if you will, and like to sleep on futons. They wear patchouli and, worse, sandalwood. Basically, this subset of people took the worst and most superficial aspects of the real hippie movement in the ‘70s and appropriated it for their own narcissistic gain. They are vegan, but they smoke. This usage of hippie is derogatory.


Crunchy, granola

Contextual Example

“I ended up with a bag of goji berries after that yoga studio opening, but I’ll just pawn it off on one of my hippie friends.”


About Joslyn Hamilton


Filed under: Soulless Hippies and Tagged:


  1. YogaforCynics says:

    Oh yeah, I often hear “hippie” used to describe political activists and people who are completely apolytical, drug users and people who are fanatical about not touching anything that could possibly be bad for them, etc.

  2. Anita says:

    Goji berries are the worst :P Thanks for this post, I enjoyed it!

  3. Susan says:

    Yes. Exactly.

    Furthermore, I would really, really love to have a dishwasher.

  4. karl says:

    I have to cringe when I hear people refer to “the hippies,”
    I think the use of certain words should be uttered with caution, especially if
    its used in the wrong context.

  5. Jill says:

    What about me? I’ve often described myself, proudly, as a “weekend hippie”. During the week I’m buttoned up tight in a suit, hair up in a bun, crunching numbers in my accounting job in corporate America. But on the weekend, I let my hair down, put on a comfy sack dress, and do things like dry herbs, make my own medical potions, bake teff muffins, and grow my own food in a backyard garden.

    I love straddling both worlds like that. I think I get the best of each. :)

  6. Ed S. says:

  7. Cookie says:

    I enjoyed this, but patchouli is way worse than sandalwood.

  8. eleles says:

    Nothing’s worse than goji berries, though.

  9. Maynard says:

    One way to ward off hippie #3, is to use ridiculous amounts of bleach.
    It’s the only thing that has worked for me. At home, in your car, at work.
    It not only keeps the #3 hippie at bay, but it keeps you from being categorized as one one as well.

  10. Joslyn hamilton says:

    Same. I basically use bleach as a cologne now, and also borax.

  11. Alexis says:

    I use he term for white kids with questionable hygiene.
    As in, they smell.

  12. Craft Wars: Thieves Blend « Outside Eye Consulting says:

    [...] witchcraft was revered as a miracle for warding off sickness and disease. In modern times, hippies (see description #2 here) use it to prevent sickness when around germy things. It’s great as a hand sanitizer, a room [...]

    Response posted on April 19th, 2013 , 1:27 pm
  13. The Past says:

    [...] computer hippie can be many things, and Recovering Yogi‘s post resonated strongly with [...]