• A native or inhabitant of Bohemia. • The group of Czech language dialects used in Bohemia. • An artisan, usually gifted in literature or the creative arts; one who defies social conventions; a gypsy.
While these definitions are technically correct, they don't seem to do justice to describing the Bohemian lifestyle. Being Bohemian is all about living in an alternative space. Bohemians express themselves without regard for social convention. They attempt to experience the mysteries of life through their unique perspective.
The term Bohemian, as it refers to lifestyle, seems to have begun in France with the term La Boheme. It started as a way of describing bands of carefree 'gypsys' that came from Romania; possibly originating in India. As they traveled through Bohemia (now the Czech Republic), the reigning royalty gave them letters of safe passage. These letters indicated that the Bohemian royalty condoned their practices and lifestyle, which afforded them a sense of prestige in western Europe at the time.
Today Bohemian is used to describe free-thinking, free-living people - usually artists. Its modern roots are with the Beatniks of the 1950s. Their poets now stand as icons of progressive libertarian thinking.