ho·​bo | \ ˈhō-(ˌ)bō How to pronounce hobo (audio) \
plural hoboes also hobos

Definition of hobo

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a migratory worker
2 : a homeless and usually penniless vagabond
3 or less commonly 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

Leaving her hobo bag or fanny pack at home, Kardashian opted for Jacquemus’s tiny bag instead. Christian Allaire, Vogue, "Kourtney Kardashian Gives the Micro Bag a Vacation-Ready Spin," 4 Aug. 2019 The migrant hobos considered these men to be of lower status. Gary Kamiya, SFChronicle.com, "SF ‘hobohemia’ transformed into Skid Row as jobs and city changed," 10 Aug. 2019 From 1901 to 1905 alone, about 24,000 hobos were killed while jumping trains. Gary Kamiya, SFChronicle.com, "Don’t call them bums: Hobos once filled the South of Market," 26 July 2019 Buddha Buddha was allegedly named for a hobo who frequented the area. Dawn Mitchell, Indianapolis Star, "Indiana's quirky place names and how they came to be," 15 July 2019 If small bags aren’t your thing, another editor made the case for a roomy white hobo. Madeline Fass, Vogue, "Forget Beige and Black: Spring’s Must-Have Bags Come in Ultra-Bright White," 29 Mar. 2019 The trend is still going strong—you’re still more likely to see a girl carrying a wicker tote than a giant designer hobo—but colorful beaded bags are quickly replacing them. Emily Farra, Vogue, "The Biggest—And Most Curious—Instagram Trends of Summer 2018," 3 Aug. 2018 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

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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Learn More about hobo

Dictionary Entries near hobo


hobnail boot






Statistics for hobo

Last Updated

12 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

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

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


ho·​bo | \ ˈhō-bō How to pronounce hobo (audio) \
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).


miscellaneous remnants or debris

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