Definition of carpetbagger in US English:



derogatory, informal
  • 1A political candidate who seeks election in an area where they have no local connections.

    • ‘What struck me most in conversations with several dozen volunteers, carpetbaggers and locals alike, was the almost uniform answer they gave when I asked if they had ever worked on a national political campaign: No.’
    • ‘The carpetbaggers who streamed into the South for political and economic gain aggravated the wounds which the war had opened.’
    • ‘Yet such a huge amount of cash will ensure the company remains a target for carpetbaggers, with policyholders potentially benefiting from ever-larger windfalls were the Edinburgh-based insurer to float.’
    • ‘The recent fight with carpetbaggers cost policyholders several million pounds.’
    • ‘A candidate in Kansas may score points by accusing his opponent of being a carpetbagger.’
    • ‘He looked to some like a carpetbagger who knew nothing about the constituency - and he was not a Catholic, as many in the local party are.’
    • ‘As far as he's concerned, anyone participating in them is a carpetbagger, an allusion to exiled politicians whom he expects to be the regime's most prominent figures.’
    • ‘After all, these people could not be portrayed as carpetbaggers or outside agitators.’
    • ‘But as an unknown to many of his would be constituents, he was branded a carpetbagger and a wealthy outsider.’
    • ‘There are a lot of carpetbaggers and scam-artists operating in southern Africa and by telephone from offshore bases.’
    1. 1.1historical (in the US) a person from the northern states who went to the South after the Civil War to profit from the Reconstruction.
      • ‘The archetypal carpetbagger would have quickly profited by selling the free shares immediately.’
      • ‘The carpetbaggers of the South are looting the world as a whole.’
      • ‘This was around the time of Reconstruction, when many southern blacks and carpetbaggers had the opportunity to replace white southerners in positions of power.’
      • ‘During Reconstruction, carpetbaggers were shifty characters who trolled the country, meddling where they weren't really wanted.’
      • ‘Like carpetbaggers heading into the South in the 1870s, overseas coaches and players streamed into what was now a ripe arena of reconstruction.’
    2. 1.2 A person perceived as an unscrupulous opportunist.
      ‘the organization is rife with carpetbaggers’
      • ‘He has often assumed the role of carpetbagger in his business dealings.’
      • ‘I mean, how much of this is real groundswell and how much is just the fact that we've got a bunch of carpetbagger English journalists taking over our media?’
      • ‘This memoir is her best opportunity to date to alter the images: Lady Macbeth, Joan of Arc, feminist extremist, ambitious carpetbagger, aggrieved wife.’
      • ‘It became clear towards the end of the campaign that the carpetbagger and his supporters were in a position to strip the company of many millions of pounds.’
      • ‘The fund manager-turned carpetbagger stands to make around #300,000 if his plans are successful.’
      • ‘His desire to be the best and to race in top equipment has been mistaken for arrogance - just another cart carpetbagger trying to reinvent the wheel.’
      • ‘Yet it was - strangely enough - talking to him, our surprisingly friendly carpetbagger, that finally changed my mind.’
      • ‘And horror of horrors, she's his assistant district attorney and a party member - a backstabbing female carpetbagger.’
      • ‘The vote spelled the end of carpetbagger Smith's campaign - for the time being at least.’


Mid 19th century: originally applied to people from the northern states of the US who went to the South after the Civil War to profit from the Reconstruction.