Etymology

deriving from the Greek for 'true' (eteos/etymos) and 'word' (logos)
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Freelancer

If you were born in the Middle Ages and were freelance by occupation, on the offer of a new job you'd be taking up not your red pen, but your lance.

Yes, the long-shafted weapon with a metal head used by mounted soldiers when charging (Macquarie). Back in the day, a freelance was a knight with no political or professional allegiance, who would offer his lance in service to a paying customer. Or so Sir Walter Scott would have you believe: he invented the term for his novel Ivanhoe in 1820. Nevertheless, by the 1860s, the word freelance came to be used figuratively, and it entered the Oxford English Dictionary as a verb in 1903 (other forms came later). Interestingly, many a new historical fact first appeared in Sir Walter's writing, which featured, to put it mildly, a highly idealised view of Scottish culture: Sir Walter is even credited by some to have invented clan tartans, an idea which came about only as recently as the 19th century.