“Bohemia” was an actual place – it was the western end of the current Czech Republic, though it’s not technically named this anymore.
The word “Bohemian” has come to refer to a carefree, counter-cultural, often traveling lifestyle.
This usage comes from a French reference to the Romani people of “gypsies” of Europe. These were itinerant people who the French believed (perhaps incorrectly) hailed from Bohemia.
Why I Looked It Up
I’ve heard the word in the cultural context for years, and I remember a band from the 80s called “Edie Brickell & New Bohemians.”
But in a book about Europe before World War I, I encountered the word in its geographical and ethnic sense – the Bohemians were referred to as a specific group of people, rather than a lifestyle choice.
I wanted to know how the word jumped from a geographical or ethnic reference to a cultural reference.