See more synonyms for carpetbagger on
  1. U.S. History. a Northerner who went to the South after the Civil War and became active in Republican politics, especially so as to profiteer from the unsettled social and political conditions of the area during Reconstruction.
  2. a politician who takes up residence in a place and runs for office without having strong ties to the area.
  3. any opportunistic or exploitive outsider: Our bus company has served this town for years, but now the new one run by carpetbaggers from the city is stealing our business.

Origin of carpetbagger

1865–70, Americanism; carpetbag + -er1; so called because they came South carrying their belongings in carpetbags
Related formscar·pet·bag·ger·y, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for carpetbagger

carpetbagger, ingrate, bounder, go-getter, timeserver, trimmer

Examples from the Web for carpetbagger

Contemporary Examples of carpetbagger

  • Bob Smith: unbalanced, inconstant, and even more of a carpetbagger than the other guy.

  • The two biggest hurdles executives entering politics face is being viewed as either a carpetbagger or egomaniac.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Jeff Zucker for Senate?

    Peter Lauria

    May 5, 2010

  • He was told that he was a carpetbagger, but he desperately wanted to serve the people, as I do.

    The Daily Beast logo
    My Night With Sean Penn

    Cindy Sheehan

    October 30, 2008

Historical Examples of carpetbagger

British Dictionary definitions for carpetbagger


  1. a politician who seeks public office in a locality where he has no real connections
  2. British a person who makes a short-term investment in a mutual savings or life-assurance organization in order to benefit from free shares issued following the organization's conversion to a public limited company
  3. US a Northern White who went to the South after the Civil War to profit from Reconstruction
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 carpetbagger

also carpet-bagger, 1868, American English, scornful appellation for Northerners who went South after the fall of the CSA seeking private gain or political advancement. The name is based on the image of men arriving with all their worldly goods in a big carpetbag. Sense later extended to any opportunist from out of the area.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper