Freshman

at college, is a man not salted. It was anciently a custom in the different colleges to play practical jokes on the new-comers. One of the most common was to assemble them in a room and make them deliver a speech. Those who acquitted themselves well had a cup of caudle; those who passed muster had a caudle with salt water; the rest had the salt water only. Without scanning so deeply, “fresh-man” may simply mean a fresh or new student. (See Bejan.)

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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