Phreak



[freek] /frik/

noun
1.
.
verb (used without object), phreaked, phreaking.
2.
to act as a phone phreak.
verb (used with object), phreaked, phreaking.
3.
to tamper with (telephones) as a phone phreak does.
n.

1972, originally in phone phreak, one of a set of technically creative people who electronically hacked or defrauded telephone companies of the day.

The phreaks first appeared on the US scene in the early 1960s, when a group of MIT students were found to have conducted a late night dialling experiment on the Defense Department’s secret network. They were rewarded with jobs when they explained their system to Bell investigators. … The name “phone phreak” identified the enthisiasts with the common underground usage of freak as someone who was cool and used drugs. [“New Scientist,” Dec. 13, 1973]

The ph- in phone may have suggested the alteration, and this seems to be the original of the 1990s slang fad for substituting ph- for f- (e.g. phat).

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