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[hoh-boh] /ˈhoʊ boʊ/
noun, plural hobos, hoboes.
a tramp or vagrant.
a migratory worker.
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
  • It smells not of fresh water but of hobo urine, slaughterhouses and factories.
  • His rise to geek fame through his unique humor and insight into tech and hobo matters is wrought with little controversy.
  • They're the scourge of hobo encampments and hot-sheet motels.
  • As deep unemployment continued, hobo's developed their own language and routines to try to make it through until the next job.
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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