Anyone who refuses to stay in the stagnation of the norm. The norm is, of course, relative to each individual person; in the same light, non-conformists are also subjective. The norm is perpetuated by society and culture, sometimes on purpose, sometimes not. Throughout history, non-conformists like geeks have been killed, tortured, ostracized, wrapped in barbed wire and shot into the sun, and been generally inconvenienced simply because they are different and seemingly inappropriate to the people in control.

The issue has surfaced in you nonconformists are all alike etc, but it's worth noting that conformist is a relative term; that is you can conform to a particular trend or you can be a nonconformist relative to said trend. Thus, while a person who lives under a bridge, is twelve feet tall, smells funny, and is known for killing yuppies and feasting on their flesh may be a conformist to someone inclined to say"oh, look! An ogre!", such a person would be considered a non-conformist by the rest of consumer culture.

Nonconformists, in English history, those who declined to conform their worship to that by law established. They were of two kinds: First, those who, being religious, worshiped nowhere; second, those who attended the services of some other religious denomination than the Established Church. It was more frequently used of the latter class. The name was first applied to those who declined to conform to the enactment of the Act of Uniformity of Edward VI., passed in 1549. It was revived and applied to the 2,000 clergymen, who had to surrender their livings on account of their inability to conform to the more celebrated Act of Uniformity of Charles II., first enforced on Aug. 24, 1662. Etymologically viewed, a Dissenter and Nonconformist somewhat differ. The former word denotes that he feels differently from Churchmen, that his sympathies go in a different direction; the latter word refers, not to his feelings, but to his action with respect to public worship. The laws formerly existing required him to conform to that of the Established Church by attending the services and partaking of the Communion. The two words, dissenter and non-conformist, as generally referring to the same individual, became interchangeable.

Entry from Everybody's Cyclopedia, 1912.

Non`con*form"ist, n.

One who does not conform to an established church; especially, one who does not conform to the established church of England; a dissenter.


© Webster 1913.

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