What is the Difference Between a Bum, a Hobo, and a Tramp and What Do the Words Mean?

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, Godfrey Irwin published American Tramp and Underworld Slang, within which he explained the difference.

Bums loaf and sit; tramps loaf and walk; but a hobo moves and works.

The word “hobo” is derived from “hoeboy”.

The term originated because many of the young men traveling the rails were from farms and carried a hoe with them so that they could work the gardens of those households that might employ them.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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