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[hoh-boh] /ˈhoʊ boʊ/
noun, plural hobos, hoboes.
a tramp or vagrant.
a migratory worker.
Origin of hobo
1885-90, Americanism; origin uncertain
Related forms
hoboism, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for hobo
Historical Examples
  • I had been readin' the papers, and I had seen a lot about hobo Harry in 'em.

    A Woman at Bay Nicholas Carter
  • They think only that she is hobo Harry's wife, or sister, or sweetheart, or something like that.

    A Woman at Bay Nicholas Carter
  • hobo stretched himself upon the folded rug with a groan startlingly human.

    Peggy Raymond's Vacation Harriet L. (Harriet Lummis) Smith
  • hobo miners, the most expert of their craft, and begging their grub on the trail!

    Silver and Gold Dane Coolidge
  • The emphasis on the last word roused hobo, who was sleeping in the next room.

    Peggy Raymond's Vacation Harriet L. (Harriet Lummis) Smith
  • hobo growled softly, the hair on his neck bristling and giving him a peculiarly savage appearance.

    Peggy Raymond's Vacation Harriet L. (Harriet Lummis) Smith
  • hobo keenly felt the responsibility of the family he had adopted.

    Peggy Raymond's Vacation Harriet L. (Harriet Lummis) Smith
  • Down-stairs the girls looked at one another aghast, and hobo whined uneasily, as if asking permission to interfere.

    Peggy Raymond's Vacation Harriet L. (Harriet Lummis) Smith
  • Then as hobo took his stand where he could view proceedings, the boy turned abruptly to Peggy.

    Peggy Raymond's Vacation Harriet L. (Harriet Lummis) Smith
  • hobo, too, made his appearance, and he alone of the company gave no sign of mental disturbance.

    Peggy Raymond's Vacation Harriet L. (Harriet Lummis) Smith
British Dictionary definitions for hobo


noun (mainly US & Canadian) (pl) -bos, -boes
a tramp; vagrant
a migratory worker, esp an unskilled labourer
Derived Forms
hoboism, noun
Word Origin
C19 (US): origin unknown
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for hobo

1889, Western U.S., of unknown origin. Barnhart compares early 19c. English dialectal hawbuck "lout, clumsy fellow, country bumpkin." Or possibly from ho, boy, a workers' call on late 19c. western U.S. railroads. Facetious formation hobohemia, "community or life of hobos," is from 1923 (see bohemian).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for hobo



A person who wanders from place to place, typically by riding on freight trains, and who may occasionally work but more often cadges sustenance •The hobo is sometimes distinguished from bums and tramps by the fact that he works

[1889+; origin unknown; perhaps fr the call ''Ho, boy,'' used on late 1800s Western railroads by mail carriers, then altered and transferred to vagrants; perhaps putative hoe-boy, a migrant farm worker in the West, who became a hobo after the harvest season]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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