Definition of bindlestiff in US English:



  • A tramp or a hobo, especially one carrying a bundle containing a bedroll and other gear.

    • ‘From their own point of view, the critics were right: Rhode Island was a cesspool of malcontents, outcasts, bindlestiffs and religious mavericks who were welcome nowhere else.’
    • ‘And across the Inland Empire, in a multitude of saloons called ‘Mint bars’ and ‘Stockmen's bars,’ silver-dollar-jangling miners and cowpokes speak up loudly in a man's world, while the roads to something-else are still walked by cocky, freewheeling itinerant ranch hands, gandy dancers and bindlestiffs.’
    • ‘The bindlestiffs of that era had a very strong network and used their unified power to demand fair wages and social treatment.’
    • ‘‘Steinbeck's potent blend of empathy and moral outrage was perfectly matched by the photographs of Dorothea Lange, who had caught the whole saga with her camera - the tents, the jalopies, the bindlestiffs, the pathos and courage of uprooted mothers and children. ‘’
    • ‘From 1919 to 1925, when he finally left Stanford without taking a degree, Steinbeck dropped in and out of the University, sometimes to work closely with migrants and bindlestiffs on California ranches.’
    tramp, drifter, down-and-out, derelict, beggar, itinerant, wanderer, nomad, wayfarer, traveller, gypsy, rover, vagabond, transient, migrant, homeless person, beachcomber, person of no fixed abode, person of no fixed address, knight of the road, bird of passage, rolling stone
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Early 20th century: probably from an alteration of bundle + stiff (in the sense ‘useless person’).