Sorry, Bay Area. Herb Caen did NOT coin the term “Beatnik”

For the last sixty years, a commonly held belief by many “in the know” San Franciscans is the term “beatnik” was coined by the legendary San Francisco columnist, Herb Caen. Caen, of course, used the term in his daily column in the San Francisco Chronicle on April 2nd, 1958, about six months after Russia launched Sputnik.

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Special thanks to John Natsoulas, James Riggs, and Niko Van Dyke for their contributions to this article.