vagrant

1 of 2

noun

va·​grant ˈvā-grənt How to pronounce vagrant (audio)
1
a
: one who has no established residence and wanders idly from place to place without lawful or visible means of support
b
: one (such as a prostitute or drunkard) whose conduct constitutes statutory vagrancy
2
3
: an animal wandering outside its normal geographic range
especially : a bird found outside its normal geographic range or migration route : accidental
California gulls have turned up as vagrants in other nearby states, including New York, Maryland and Pennsylvania. Pete Bacinski and Scott Barnes

vagrant

2 of 2

adjective

1
a
: wandering about from place to place usually with no means of support
b
of an animal : wandering outside its normal geographic range
especially, of a bird : found outside its normal geographic range or migration route : accidental sense 3
2
a
: having a fleeting, wayward, or inconstant quality
a vagrant impulse
b
: having no fixed course : random
a vagrant breeze
vagrantly adverb

Example Sentences

Noun a part of the city that attracts many vagrants vagrants sleeping in cardboard boxes on the sidewalk Adjective bands of vagrant children in the streets of the impoverished city
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
This very rare North American vagrant from northwestern Europe and mid-latitude Eurasia would represent a first Massachusetts record. BostonGlobe.com, 17 Sep. 2022 Please don’t glorify a homeless vagrant who has nowhere to go. Dan Koeppel, Outside Online, 5 Sep. 2019 Research has demonstrated that the long-term impact of a single avian vagrant can in fact, be ecologically profound. New York Times, 7 Apr. 2022 Citizen Ruth is about a paint-huffing vagrant who has been arrested 16 times and given birth to four children, all of whom were seized by the state. Matthew Jacobs, Vulture, 2 Dec. 2021 Coronavirus seems to pounce on these attributes, like a famished vagrant at a free all-you-can-eat buffet. Sam Adams, The Denver Post, 17 July 2020 The 35-year-old vagrant then grabbed the child, picked him up and threw him to the concrete, slamming his face on the ground, police said. Fox News, 11 Oct. 2019 Neighboring what passes for a metro area out here, Hawkeye is no secret—not from other hunters nor birders nor a cast of more nefarious characters ranging from mere vagrants to meth dealers. Phil Bourjaily, Field & Stream, 12 Mar. 2020 In 2019, the number of homeless citizens living in cars, vans and RVs increased, along with the number of vagrants living in tents or makeshift setups. Nick Givas, Fox News, 15 Feb. 2020
Adjective
Alternatively, some scientists think vagrant birds like Stella could be the pioneers of a species exploring new habitats. Marina Wang, Smithsonian Magazine, 23 Aug. 2022 Some reports described him as a vagrant; others labeled him a drug dealer. James E. Causey, jsonline.com, 20 Apr. 2022 English roads teemed with men turned vagrant by penury; Spain was on the cusp of war. Washington Post, 30 Dec. 2021 The commissioner had heard screaming, looked outside and saw a father pushing a baby in a stroller accompanied by another toddler moving away from a person the witness described as a vagrant, who was following them with a brick, Krepp said. Washington Post, 19 Dec. 2021 North of Boston, a vagrant wood stork continued to be sighted in the vicinity of the Green Landing Marsh in Gloucester, a little blue heron at the Ross Field Mill Pond elsewhere in Gloucester. BostonGlobe.com, 28 Nov. 2021 The group aged each bird by their appearance and found that vagrant, or birds that fly outside of their range, were always adolescents, per Science News. Elizabeth Gamillo, Smithsonian Magazine, 12 Nov. 2021 Birders dream of vagrant sightings, said Nick Lund, who works for Maine Audubon and counts himself lucky to have seen a great black hawk, native to Central and South America, in his home state in 2018. Arkansas Online, 7 Nov. 2021 Synonyms for beggar include hobo, pauper, tramp, vagrant, derelict, mendicant, bum, supplicant, deadbeat, borrower. Stephen Miller, WSJ, 11 Oct. 2021 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle English vageraunt, vagraunt, borrowed from Anglo-French vageraunt, from present participle of vagrer "to wander about," probably blend of vaguer "to be unoccupied, wander about" (borrowed from Late Latin vagāre, Latin vagārī "to wander, roam") and waucrer, wakrer "to wander about," perhaps going back to Old Low Franconian (Frankish substratum of French) *walkaran-, frequentative derivative of Germanic *walkan- "to roll, toss" — more at vagabond entry 2, walk entry 1

Adjective

Middle English vagaraunt "inclined to wander, lacking a livelihood," borrowed from Anglo-French vageraunt, waucrant, present participle of vagrer "to wander about" — more at vagrant entry 1

First Known Use

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Adjective

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of vagrant was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near vagrant

Cite this Entry

“Vagrant.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vagrant. Accessed 28 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

vagrant 1 of 2

noun

va·​grant ˈvā-grənt How to pronounce vagrant (audio)
: a person who has no steady job and wanders from place to place

vagrant

2 of 2

adjective

1
: wandering about from place to place
2
: having no fixed course
vagrant breezes

Medical Definition

vagrant

adjective

va·​grant ˈvā-grənt How to pronounce vagrant (audio)
: having no fixed course : moving from place to place
a vagrant infection

Legal Definition

vagrant

noun

va·​grant ˈvā-grənt How to pronounce vagrant (audio)
: one who has no established residence and wanders about without lawful or identifiable means of support
vagrants may not be punished for being vagrants; only persons who commit culpable acts are liable for criminal sanctions State v. Richard, 836 P.2d 622 (1992)

History and Etymology for vagrant

Anglo-French wagerant vageraunt, from present participle of vagrer walcrer to wander about, drift, probably from Old Norse valka to roll, wallow

More from Merriam-Webster on vagrant

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