Where does the term ‘beat’ come from? Jack Kerouac gave the term, which possibly dates back to the Civil War, its most enduring meaning. ‘Beats, beatniks, bohemians, and all that jazz’ examines the terms of the Beat Generation and explains what they meant for its members. Even though the Beats are most famous as writers and poets, their identity was broader to encompass the label of bohemians who wanted to challenge the social norms of the time. The word ‘beatnik’ was invented by a journalist, Herb Caen, who wanted to poke fun at the Beats, and the term stuck.