ho·​bo | \ˈhō-(ˌ)bō \
plural hoboes also hobos

Definition of hobo 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a migratory worker

2 : a homeless and usually penniless vagabond

3 also hobo bag : a large shoulder bag shaped like a pouch To punctuate the all-blue outfit, the actress slung on an unstructured, oversized suede hobo, a practical antidote to the current craze for fanny packs and mini bags.— Edward Barsamian


hoboed; hoboing; hobos

Definition of hobo (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to live or travel in the manner of a hobo

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Synonyms for hobo

Synonyms: Noun

bindle stiff, bum, bummer, sundowner [Australian], swaggie [chiefly Australian], swagman [chiefly Australian], tramp, vagabond, vagrant

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Examples of hobo in a Sentence


kind folks who always gave hoboes who came to the farm a meal and then sent them on their way

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The ride circles the museum grounds and includes information on hobo culture and the museum's rolling stock. Chelsey Lewis, USA TODAY, "Eight scenic and historic train rides in Wisconsin," 3 Apr. 2018 And then this Abe Lincoln robot-hobo is terrorizing the town, staggering through traffic, etc. Aaron Gilbreath, Longreads, "Publishing the Best of the Desert: An Interview With Ken Layne," 25 Apr. 2018 In 1900, the cartoonist Fredrick Opper created Happy Hooligan, a hapless Irish-American hobo. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "My Epiphany About the Problem With Apu," 14 Apr. 2018 The term is a misnomer (its practitioners were not necessarily bums or hobos), but the name stuck. Anita Gates, New York Times, "From 12th Century B.C. to 2017, Art in Startling Variety," 7 Mar. 2018 A dive bar, for instance, does not have to harbor rats, hobos or cobwebs. Tim Carman, ajc, "America's most authentic dive bars," 7 May 2017

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

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First Known Use of hobo


1888, in the meaning defined at sense 2


1906, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for hobo


origin unknown

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Dictionary Entries near hobo


hobnail boot






Statistics for hobo

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Time Traveler for hobo

The first known use of hobo was in 1888

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More Definitions for hobo



English Language Learners Definition of hobo

: a person who has no place to live and no money and who travels to many different places


ho·​bo | \ˈhō-bō \
plural hoboes

Kids Definition of hobo

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More from Merriam-Webster on hobo

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for hobo

Spanish Central: Translation of hobo

Nglish: Translation of hobo for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of hobo for Arabic Speakers

Comments on hobo

What made you want to look up hobo? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


by force of circumstances

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