va·​gran·​cy | \ ˈvā-grən(t)-sē How to pronounce vagrancy (audio) \
plural vagrancies

Definition of vagrancy

1 : the state or action of being vagrant
2 : the offense of being a vagrant
3 : vagary

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Examples of vagrancy in a Sentence

a frequent victim to the vagrancies of the heart, she had a succession of passionate but short-lived romances

Recent Examples on the Web

Some states implemented policies making black people — including some children — subject to vagrancy laws if unemployed. NBC News, "It's not just men: White conservative women have played key role in abortion policy changes this year," 13 Aug. 2019 The most prevalent crimes were loitering, vagrancy, and drunkenness; which was the result of the many bars located along Main Street in Westminster. Kevin Dayhoff,, "Dayhoff: Westminster Police Department, with 200 years of history, adds six new officers," 9 Aug. 2019 In Virginia, as across the South, newly devised Black Codes regulated postwar social arrangements, and vagrancy laws preserved white power to coerce labor. Drew Gilpin Faust, The Atlantic, "Race, History, and Memories of a Virginia Girlhood," 18 July 2019 The area -- which has been plagued by vagrancy, high crime rates and unsanitary conditions almost since its development in the 1880s -- is an unorganized collection of warehouses, wholesale storefronts and decaying low-rent hotels. Andrew O'reilly | Fox News, Fox News, "LA push to develop Skid Row prompts new clashes in California's homeless crisis," 14 July 2019 The real public nuisances in these progressive sanctuaries are vagrancy, public urination and open drug use that are all increasingly common. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "The Climate-Change Tort Racket," 8 June 2018 Second, the Municipality has taken important steps to reduce vagrancy and homelessness, which are related to property crime. Anchorage Daily News, "It’s too late to prevent the opioid epidemic, but progress is being made in addressing Anchorage crime," 14 Mar. 2018 And many cities still have vagrancy laws which allow homeless people to be jailed merely for sleeping on the sidewalk. Brenda Cain,, "Author Peter Edelman discusses how poverty has become a crime at today's City Club forum," 13 Dec. 2017 The Kips Bay Towers complex, currently being renovated, includes a three-acre park that closed to the public in the 1980s when the area experienced a rise in vagrancy and drugs. Julie Lasky, New York Times, "Kips Bay: An Anonymous Neighborhood With Fringe Benefits," 11 Oct. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'vagrancy.' 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 vagrancy

1641, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for vagrancy

vagr(ant) entry 1 or vagr(ant) entry 2 + -ancy

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Statistics for vagrancy

Last Updated

17 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for vagrancy

The first known use of vagrancy was in 1641

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More Definitions for vagrancy


va·​gran·​cy | \ ˈvā-grən-sē How to pronounce vagrancy (audio) \
plural vagrancies

Legal Definition of vagrancy

1 : the act or practice of wandering about from place to place
2 : the crime of wandering about without employment or identifiable means of support the court struck down the vagrancy law as unconstitutionally vague

Note: Most vagrancy laws have been abolished.

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More from Merriam-Webster on vagrancy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for vagrancy

Spanish Central: Translation of vagrancy

Nglish: Translation of vagrancy for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about vagrancy

Comments on vagrancy

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


recurring in steady succession

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