The term “hobo” maybe one you are familiar with, especially if you live in the city. However, the term doesn’t mean what people tend to think it means. Here you will find the real meaning of this term and how it is most commonly used today.
You will also find some information concerning the origin of this slang phrase and some alternative meanings. Next, you will see some conversation examples that you can read through to help you gain a deeper understanding of its meaning. Finally, you will see some other words and phrases that you can use interchangeably with this term to convey the same meaning.
What Does “Hobo” Mean?
This term is defined as a transient person who travels from place to place doing odd jobs for money. Often people use the term “bum” to define these types of people, but they are not the same thing.
Origin of “Hobo”
Although this no definite origin that can be pinpointed regarding when this term was first used, it is the best guess that the term originated in the Midwestern United States sometime around the year 1890. The term was used to describe migrant workers and homeless people who would travel from place to place, typically by illegally jumping in a railroad car, to go to different places to perform odd jobs. Today, the term is used more as a synonym for “bum” or “homeless person” even though that comparison is frowned upon by people who consider themselves by this term.
This term was also used to describe soldiers coming home from the Civil War as a shortened way to say homeward bound. The term is also used as an acronym for a well-known clothing line based in Washington, D.C. where it stands for the phrase “help our brothers out.” It is a clothing line geared toward the African-American community.
A text message exchange between two friends.
- Friend 1: My mom wants me to go down and buy some milk from the corner store, but I don’t want to.
- Friend 2: Stop being lazy and just go do it.
- Friend 1: LOL! I am not being lazy. I don’t want to deal with the creepy hobo on the corner.
An online conversation between two Facebook users.
- User 1: When I grow up, I want to be a hobo.
- User 2: Wow, your parents must be proud that you want to become a bum and mooch off them for the rest of your life.
- User 1: Umm, no. That is not what it means. It means I want to work, but I also want to travel around and see the world. I don’t want to call anyone place home.
Synonyms for “Hobo”
There are several synonymous words and phrases that you could use in place of this term to convey the same meaning. Some of the other words or phrases you could use include:
- migrant worker
- homeless vagrant
Hobo Meaning Infographic