clo·​chard | \ klō-ˈshär How to pronounce clochard (audio) \

Definition of clochard

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Why such a fancy French word for a bum? The truth of the matter is, nine times out of ten, you will find clochard used for not just any bum, but a French bum - even more specifically, a Parisian bum. And, sometimes, it's even a certain type of Parisian bum - a type that has been romanticized in literature and is part of the local color. Nevertheless, as "français" as this word (which comes from the French verb clocher, meaning "to limp") may seem, its regular appearance in English sources since 1937 makes it an English word, too.

Examples of clochard in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In summer the clochards like to live along the quay, sleep under the bridges. Bruce Dale, National Geographic, 17 Apr. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'clochard.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of clochard

1937, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for clochard

French, from clocher to limp, from Vulgar Latin *cloppicare, from Late Latin cloppus lame

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The first known use of clochard was in 1937

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Cite this Entry

“Clochard.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Oct. 2021.

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