Tramp vs drifter vs vagabond

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Petrita2408

New Member
Croatian
Hi, can someone tell me is there any difference between the nouns vagabond, tramp and drifter?

Thanks in advance
Bye
 
  • se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    There is.

    Have you tried looking these words up in dictionaries, such as the "English definition" dictionary at the top of this page? I am sure contributors will be happy to help with any particular definition that you find there and do not understand well; but there are too many definitions there to explain in a single forum thread.
     
    Last edited:

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Welcome to the forum, Petrita2408!

    Roughly, the three words mean the same thing. But they may be used in different ways, or used in different situations. There is no simple, clear difference to explain briefly. There are other similar words: "hobo", "bum", "vagrant". All six of these words have overlapping meanings, but they are not identical.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Of the chosen words, only vagabond does not imply poverty. None of them have a home or a job, but a vagrant, tramp, or drifter always imply to me abject poverty.

    A vagabond chooses to have no job or home, but might have money; the others are homeless for reasons beyond their choosing.

    Jack London, Jack Kerouac and Joseph Conrad were all vagabonds. I would not call them vagrants, drifters or tramps.
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    I think there are some variations between US and UK too.

    In the past (in the UK) we frequently talk about tramps, but I think that word has lost favour and "homeless person" has come into use. Unlike Packard, I think that "Drifter" seems to denote something more romantic and less poverty-stricken, like a free spirit who maybe has some cash to support a lifestyle on the move.

    Vagabond sounds quite old-fashioned. Many of these words seem to denigrate the person, or at least carry negative connotations, especially "bum" which someone else mentioned. I'd say bum and hobo were more American than UK in origin and use.
     

    MarcB

    Senior Member
    US English
    Suzi, your UK definitions match my definitions, except Drifter often denotes a troublemaker. Hobo often implied, since it's not used much anymore a person who lived traveling by freight trains rather than passenger trains.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    I think there are some variations between US and UK too.

    In the past (in the UK) we frequently talk about tramps, but I think that word has lost favour and "homeless person" has come into use. Unlike Packard, I think that "Drifter" seems to denote something more romantic and less poverty-stricken, like a free spirit who maybe has some cash to support a lifestyle on the move.

    Vagabond sounds quite old-fashioned. Many of these words seem to denigrate the person, or at least carry negative connotations, especially "bum" which someone else mentioned. I'd say bum and hobo were more American than UK in origin and use.
    Maybe I'm influenced by the High Plains Drifter who went around shooting people.:D

     
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