View synonyms for carpetbagger


[ kahr-pit-bag-er ]


  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.


/ ˈkɑːpɪtˌbæɡə /


  1. a politician who seeks public office in a locality where he has no real connections
  2. 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. a Northern White who went to the South after the Civil War to profit from Reconstruction

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Other Words From

  • carpet·bagger·y noun

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Word History and Origins

Origin of carpetbagger1

An Americanism first recorded in 1865–70; carpetbag + -er 1; so called because they came South carrying their belongings in carpetbags

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Example Sentences

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

The country carpetbagger has become such a regular that Kyle Coroneos has indentified three steps to career reinvention.

An East Coast carpetbagger doesn't get away with insulting a child of California from a family with decades of public service.

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

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

The charge of corruption laid at the door of the Negro carpetbagger governments is to a large extent true.

Tarbell in 1887 called himself a conservative carpetbagger, one who found himself in the minority.

The conference of the carpetbagger with the little Governor proved more ominous than even Norton had feared.

"You'll go down, all right—without those troops—mark my word," cried the Carpetbagger.

In vain his Carpetbagger lieutenant congratulated him on the success of his Napoleonic move.


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More About Carpetbagger

What is a carpetbagger?

A carpetbagger is a demeaning term for a politician who runs for office in an area they have no actual ties to.

Carpetbagger is always a negative word, implying or accusing someone of exploiting a situation for personal gain.

During the U.S.’s Reconstruction period, which followed the American Civil War, carpetbagger referred to white Northerners who moved to the South to easily win political offices. Most experienced Southern politicians were either dead or would have no chance of being elected by new Republican Black voters and Northern sympathizers. White Southerners saw these candidates as trespassing opportunists.

Carpetbagger is used more generally to mean any politician seeking office in a geographic area they have no connection to, as in The native Texan running for office in California was criticized by many locals as being a carpetbagger.

Carpetbagger is also used more generally to mean any opportunistic outsider, as in The foreign celebrity was called a carpetbagger on social media after he took selfies with local disaster victims and left without helping anyone.

Example: Because the candidate had just moved to Minnesota, he was accused of being a carpetbagger and using Minnesota to get a political position. 

Where does carpetbagger come from?

The first records of the term carpetbagger come from around 1865. It is Americanism that combines carpetbag, meaning “a bag made for traveling, especially one made of carpeting,” and -er, a suffix used to designate a person from a special circumstance or characteristic. Carpetbagger refers to the fact that some Northerners brought their belongings in a carpetbag when they went to run for political office in the South.

The implication of a carpetbagger is that they don’t actually care about the place and the people they would represent, while a candidate from the area would care deeply.

During Reconstruction, the American South was socially and politically unstable, and some white Northerners did go South to run for office under the Republican Party. While the Republicans did end up winning most of the Southern elections held during Reconstruction, local Southerners did regain political offices throughout most of the South.

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What are some other forms related to carpetbagger?

  • carpetbaggery (noun)

What are some synonyms for carpetbagger?

What are some words that share a root or word element with carpetbagger?

What are some words that often get used in discussing carpetbagger?

How is carpetbagger used in real life?

Carpetbagger is a serious accusation when made against a politician.

Try using carpetbagger!

True or False?

Carpetbagger describes a politician who runs for office in an area that they were born in.