noun, plural ho·bos, ho·boes.

a tramp or vagrant.
a migratory worker.

Origin of hobo

An Americanism dating back to 1885–90; origin uncertain
Related formsho·bo·ism, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for hobo

Historical Examples of hobo

  • The point is that not one of the eight was really Hobo Harry.

    A Woman at Bay

    Nicholas Carter

  • They think only that she is Hobo Harry's wife, or sister, or sweetheart, or something like that.

    A Woman at Bay

    Nicholas Carter

  • I had been readin' the papers, and I had seen a lot about Hobo Harry in 'em.

    A Woman at Bay

    Nicholas Carter

  • Hobo miners, the most expert of their craft, and begging their grub on the trail!

    Silver and Gold

    Dane Coolidge

  • Hobo keenly felt the responsibility of the family he had adopted.

    Peggy Raymond's Vacation

    Harriet L. (Harriet Lummis) Smith

British Dictionary definitions for hobo


noun plural -bos or -boes mainly US and Canadian

a tramp; vagrant
a migratory worker, esp an unskilled labourer
Derived Formshoboism, noun

Word Origin for hobo

C19 (US): origin unknown
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 hobo

1889, Western U.S., of unknown origin. Barnhart compares early 19c. English dialectal hawbuck "lout, clumsy fellow, country bumpkin." Or possibly from ho, boy, a workers' call on late 19c. western U.S. railroads. Facetious formation hobohemia, "community or life of hobos," is from 1923 (see bohemian).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper