Vagrant/vagabond/hobo/bum/tramp

Discussion in 'English Only' started by javisensei, Aug 25, 2012.

  1. javisensei New Member

    Spanish - Spain (Madrid)
    Hi all,

    Yesterday I heard the word vagrand for the first time, and I found all those words with almost (for some of them exactly) the same definition. Hobo and bum seem to be AE (maybe slang?), both of them defined as "A vagrant". So is vagabond. And what about tramp? Do they have different meanings/connotations?

    Thanks.
     
  2. teksch Senior Member

    San Diego, California
    English - American
    I'm not familiar with"vagrand". A hobo is one who is not constrained by property or kin, he travels at will with little or no money. A bum is similar to a hobo but will ask for money from people. A tramp is similar to a bum. A vagabond may be someone who just likes to travel about, he may or may not have money. Grouped as a whole, these are people who have no permanent home or job. In fact, all will probably ask for food, money, or lodging, from time-to-time. They tend to identify themselves as hobos to escape the stigma associated with being different.
     
  3. javisensei New Member

    Spanish - Spain (Madrid)
    That was really helpful, thanks!
     
  4. pwmeek

    pwmeek Senior Member

    SE Michigan, USA
    English - American
    There is a song lyric that goes "Some folks say that tramps won't steal..." so at one time tramp and hobo were distinguished by their tendency to be lawful or not. (AE) (The song goes on to say: "But I found one in my cornfield," so possibly the distinction was not absolute.)

    Wikipedia has this to say: "Unlike 'tramps', who work only when they are forced to, and 'bums', who do not work at all, 'hobos' are workers who wander." From the article on Hobos. There are also links to articles on tramps and bums.

    Most people group them all together, and use whichever word comes to mind, but supposedly the actual people have a well-defined sense of hierarchy and dislike being called by a name they do not associate with themselves. (This distinction may be outdated.)

    I do question whether "vagrand" in the original post is a typo. I am familiar with the word vagrant which seems to share its abbreviated definition with all these words.

    EDIT: Note that in formal writing, the phrase homeless person seems to have replaced most of these. I doubt that you would see any of the other words in a scientific article, unless it was about the names themselves.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2012

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