Ewan McGregor was on hand to present the Dark Knight Rises star with the prize at the Los Angeles awards show.
"Thank you," Freeman said on being presented with the accolade. "When I found out that I'd been nominated for the first ever People's Choice Movie Icon Award, I decided to look up 'icon'."
He proceeded to read the various definitions of the word 'icon' that he had found online, starting with the definition of a computer screen icon.
"If I represent something, here's what I hope it is," he concluded. "To all of you who were kind enough to vote for me, I hope I represent a working actor who is ... forever grateful for this honour."
Freeman beat fellow nominees George Clooney, Harrison Ford, Robert De Niro and Tom Hanks for the prize.
More from the People's Choice Awards 2012:
> Betty White gets standing ovation at People's Choice Awards 2012
> 'Water for Elephants' wins 'Favourite Drama Movie' at 2012 PCAs
> Jane Lynch blasts Kim Kardashian, Ashton Kutcher at 2012 PCAs
> 'Big Bang Theory' cast open People's Choice Awards 2012
> People's Choice Awards 2012 - The winners
Watch Morgan Freeman's People Choice Awards acceptance speech below:
Browse a gallery of images from the People's Choice red carpet below: