In Dune, why is a single Fremen called Fremen and not Freman?

Does the word have nothing to do with men? (In pure grammar context)

1 Answer 1


Because "Fremen" has become a proper name with time.

Does the word have nothing to do with men? (In pure grammar context)

Yes, it was originally "Free Men" - in the early concept for Dune, they were convicts who worked in spice harvesting in exchange for a reduction in their sentence. Frank Herbert then changed this to make them an indigenous people, and turned "Fremen" into a proper name for them.

The backstory in the prequels (written by Herbert's son based on his notes) retcons this, with origin of the name as "Free Men", a group of escaped slaves thousands of years before the time of Dune.

You can make up reasons why the people's name would be a bastardization of an English term when their language is based on Arabic (e.g. the man who came up with it spoke English but most others spoke Arabic, so that became their language and they kept the name because they liked it but then forgot its meaning). Ultimately it's just an artifact of the creative process.

  • 2
    In the 1983 movie, it was pronounced "fremmen", and I liked that. It showed that the word had come a long way.
    – Mr Lister
    Jan 16, 2014 at 17:47
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    The backstory isn't a retcon from Herbert's son - the original Dune novel hints at the nomadic slave past of the Fremen, and this is further established in the original Great Trilogies
    – HorusKol
    Jan 17, 2014 at 1:49
  • @HorusKol: Indeed. In Herbert's original story, Spice Planet, published in The Road to Dune, the "freedmen" were former convict labourers released from their sentence but without the funds to buy passage off 'Duneworld.' Frank Herbert always intended the Fremen to be based on 'free men,' but elected not to bother spelling it out, much as he never outright told the audience that Reverend Mother Mohiam was Lady Jessica's mother; sometimes it's best to let the audience work things out for themselves. Mar 21, 2014 at 10:45
  • 1
    I believe it all started with one man, Gordon Fremen, armed only with a crowbar ...
    – Peter
    Aug 26, 2015 at 16:43

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