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[buhm] /bʌm/
a person who avoids work and sponges on others; loafer; idler.
a tramp, hobo, or derelict.
Informal. an enthusiast of a specific sport or recreational activity, especially one who gives it priority over work, family life, etc.:
a ski bum; a tennis bum.
Informal. an incompetent person.
a drunken orgy; debauch.
verb (used with object), bummed, bumming.
Informal. to borrow without expectation of returning; get for nothing; cadge:
He's always bumming cigarettes from me.
Slang. to ruin or spoil:
The weather bummed our whole weekend.
verb (used without object), bummed, bumming.
to sponge on others for a living; lead an idle or dissolute life.
to live as a hobo.
adjective, bummer, bummest. Slang.
of poor, wretched, or miserable quality; worthless.
disappointing; unpleasant.
erroneous or ill-advised; misleading:
That tip on the stock market was a bum steer.
a bum leg.
Verb phrases
bum around, Informal. to travel, wander, or spend one's time aimlessly:
We bummed around for a couple of hours after work.
bum (someone) out, Slang. to disappoint, upset, or annoy:
It really bummed me out that she could have helped and didn't.
on the bum, Informal.
  1. living or traveling as or in a manner suggesting that of a hobo or tramp.
  2. in a state of disrepair or disorder:
    The oven is on the bum again.
Origin of bum1
1860-65, Americanism; perhaps shortening of or back formation from bummer1; adj. senses of unclear relation to sense “loafer” and perhaps of distinct orig.
2. vagabond, vagrant. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for bum around


(Brit, slang) the buttocks or anus
Word Origin
C14: of uncertain origin


a disreputable loafer or idler
a tramp; hobo
an irresponsible, unpleasant, or mean person
a person who spends a great deal of time on a specified sport: baseball bum
on the bum
  1. living as a loafer or vagrant
  2. out of repair; broken
verb bums, bumming, bummed
(transitive) to get by begging; cadge: to bum a lift
(intransitive) often foll by around. to live by begging or as a vagrant or loafer
(intransitive) usually foll by around. to spend time to no good purpose; loaf; idle
(US & Canadian, slang) bum someone off, to disappoint, annoy, or upset someone
(prenominal) of poor quality; useless
wrong or inappropriate: a bum note
Word Origin
C19: probably shortened from earlier bummer a loafer, probably from German bummeln to loaf
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for bum around



"buttocks," late 14c., "probably onomatopœic, to be compared with other words of similar sound and with the general sense of 'protuberance, swelling.' " [OED]



"dissolute loafer, tramp," 1864, American English, from bummer "loafer, idle person" (1855), probably from German slang bummler "loafer," from bummeln "go slowly, waste time." Bum first appears in a German-American context, and bummer was popular in the slang of the North's army in the American Civil War (as many as 216,000 German immigrants in the ranks). Bum's rush "forcible ejection" first recorded 1910.



1863, "to loaf and beg," American English, a word from the Civil War, perhaps a back-formation from bummer "loafer," or from bum (n.). Meaning "to feel depressed" is from 1973, perhaps from bummer in the "bad experience" sense. Related: Bummed; bumming.



"of poor quality," 1859, American English, from bum (n.). Bum steer in figurative sense of "bad advice" attested from 1901.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for bum around

bum around

verb phrase

To go about idly; loaf: I just bummed around last summer (1940s+)

bum 1


  1. Inferior; defective; lousy: That's a real bum notion you have there (1850s+)
  2. : I told a bum story first/ He just didn't want me to think he had a car with a bum clutch (1859+)


  1. A person who seldom works, seldom stays in one place, and survives by begging and petty theft; vagrant; drifter, hobo (1860s+)
  2. A promiscuous woman, esp a cheap prostitute: picking up bums in public dance halls (1930+)
  3. Any male who is disliked by the speaker, esp for lack of energy, direction, or talent •Often used of inept or despised athletes: The bum strikes out three times in a row (1920+)
  4. A person who lives or tries to live by his or her sports talent and charm, usually without being genuinely professional: Developed by volleyball bums who hated the regimentation of the indoor game (1950s+)
  5. An inferior animal, breed, racehorse, etc (1930+)
  6. Anything inferior or ineffectual: Money is a bum, a no-good bum (1950s+)


  1. To live as a tramp, drifter, etc: It wasn't easy bumming that winter/ He bummed for a couple of years, then got a job (1860s+)
  2. To beg or borrow; cadge: A schooner can be grafted if you're fierce at bumming (1850s+)
  3. (also bum one's way, bum a ride) To hitchhike: They bummed all the way to Alaska (1920s+)
  4. To deceive; victimize: Anyone who's seen this halfbaked ode to mixed marital relations realizes that the star has been bummed into a bit role (1960s+)
  5. To improve something, esp by exploiting its full potential or rearranging its parts: I bummed the whole program to show up all possible mistakes (Computer)
  6. (also bum out) To become depressed, discouraged, or irritated: You don't want to pull off the information superhighway because you're already dialed into an on-line service. Don't bum (1960s+)

Related Terms

beach bum, crumb-bun, skid row bum, stewbum, stumblebum

[probably fr German Bummler, ''loafer'']

bum 2


The buttocks or anus; ass •More common in British usage: after getting a shot of something in her bum

[late 1300s+; fr Middle English ''anus'']

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with bum around

bum around

Loaf, wander idly, as in After graduating he decided to bum around Europe for a year. [ Mid-1800s ]
Frequent bars or nightclubs, as in Her father accused her of bumming around half the night and threatened to cut off her allowance. In the mid-1800s to bum was slang for going on a drinking spree. A century later, with the addition of around, it simply meant going to saloons or clubs.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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