1. a person who lives by gathering salable articles of jetsam, refuse, etc., from beaches.
  2. a vagrant who lives on the seashore, especially a nonnative person living in such a way on a South Pacific island.
  3. a long wave rolling in from the ocean onto the beach.

Origin of beachcomber

First recorded in 1830–40; beach + comber Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for beach-comber

Historical Examples of beach-comber

  • I guess I'm more of a beach-comber by nature than anything else.

  • The beach-comber was talking in a high-keyed sing-song, but with a lisp.

  • Now Joel Latham was a tsith-addict, a beach-comber at Venusport.

    One Purple Hope!

    Henry Hasse

  • The beach-comber instinct should be strong in all sane minds.

  • Don't you worry; no beach-comber like that can stand up long in front of me.

    Parrot & Co.

    Harold MacGrath

British Dictionary definitions for beach-comber


  1. a person who searches shore debris for anything of worth, esp a vagrant living on a beach
  2. Canadian (in British Columbia) a person who is paid for salvaging loose logs and returning them to logging companies
  3. a long high wave rolling onto a beach
Derived Formsbeachcombing, noun
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

Word Origin and History for beach-comber

1840, from beach (n.) + agent noun from comb (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper