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Freddy Krueger

What does Freddy Krueger mean?

Freddy Krueger, sometimes referred to simply as Freddy by horror fans, is the villain of the Nightmare on Elm Street movie series. The spirit of a dead child-killer, Freddy is capable of killing kids in their dreams.

He has a set of visual trademarks including a burn-scarred face, a knife-fingered glove, and a red and green striped sweater. Long fingernails, a similar sweater, or a face the speaker considers ugly all might invite a comparison to Freddy Krueger.

image of Freddy Krueger

Where does Freddy Krueger come from?

Freddy Krueger first appeared in the 1984 horror movie A Nightmare on Elm Street, directed by Wes Craven. Robert Englund played Krueger in Nightmare and its sequels.

Craven based the idea of a killer who could kill even in dreams on an LA Times article about a child who died in his sleep while apparently having nightmares.

In terms of the killer’s appearance, Craven wanted his villain to stand out from those in other horror movies. He noted “I wanted my villain to have a ‘mask,’ but be able to talk and taunt and threaten. So I thought of him being burned and scarred.” Craven also wanted to outdo other slasher villains in the weaponry department, saying “A lot of horror villains used knives as weapons, and I didn’t want to duplicate that. So I thought, How about a glove with steak knives?”

Even Freddy’s sweater was designed to be “subliminally unsettling.” Craven read in Scientific American about a particular pair of red and green shades that the human eye has difficulty distinguishing from one another.

Nightmare on Elm Street ended up grossing over $25 million at the box office. Since the first movie, seven sequels (all with Englund playing Freddy), and one remake (without Englund) have been produced. The film magazine Empire named Freddy Krueger the second best horror movie character, after Ash from Evil Dead.

Freddy Krueger has been referenced in other horror movies, in TV shows like South Park and The Simpsons, and in songs by Will Smith and Nicki Minaj.

For example…

“He comes to me at night after I crawl into bed / He's burnt up like a weenie and his name is Fred!”

Will Smith, “Nightmare on My Street,” He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper (August 1, 1988)

“Being told your sweater looks like Freddy Krueger. Is that a win?”

@Gii3 Twitter (March 7, 2017)

“My nails are so damn long I look like Freddy Krueger tf”

@killaudra Twitter (March 16, 2017)

This is not a formal definition of Freddy Krueger like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of Freddy Krueger that will help you expand your word mastery.