Prefrosh is a word used by some colleges to refer to high school students who were admitted to their institution but are not attending yet. This term is usually first applied during the admitted students' weekends, and lasts all the way until classes begin. Pre- obviously means "before" and frosh is another word for freshman, which has recently had a resurgence in usage since the 1990s. But how did that term develop? It's a pretty natural etymological clipping to lose the -man suffix, but the weird vowel swap in fresh to frosh is quite confusing and even irritating if you don't know the reason behind it. Turns out it's a pun! There's a German word, frosch, which means "grammar school pupil" but also "frog", so a frosh is simultaneously a freshman, a metaphorical frog, and a pupil, while a prefrosh is even worse off.
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Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.