Definition of vagabond in English:



  • 1A person who wanders from place to place without a home or job.

    • ‘A decree of Napoleon in 1808 sent vagabonds to prison and beggars to dépôts de mendicité where they were subjected to forced labour.’
    • ‘Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Eleanor cared for a succession of hoboes, vagabonds, and bums who called at the back door of the large house the family owned on Hamond Street in Chicago.’
    • ‘Three categories of poor were subsequently recognized: sturdy beggars or vagabonds, regarded as potential trouble-makers, the infirm, and the deserving unemployed.’
    • ‘Vagabond Tales is loosely based around the adventures of a musical vagabond who travels around the world and through time to bring different kinds of music back to the traveling minstrels of Barrage.’
    • ‘We're just vagabonds, traveling from one place to another.’
    • ‘Where have they gone, those loafing heroes of folk song, those vagabonds who roam from one mill to another and bed down under the stars.’
    • ‘The carnie is no longer a punchline for a joke but a vanishing breed of vagabond that triggers wanderlust nostalgia, not thoughts of syphilis and criminal misdeeds.’
    • ‘Judging by the clothing quality, the individual looked like a vagabond.’
    • ‘I am a dogged traveler, the determined vagabond.’
    • ‘He then became a vagabond, initially sleeping on the streets or wherever he could find shelter.’
    • ‘Those who died on the Marina beach included fishermen, vagabonds, rag-pickers etc. who either had no home to go to or were out doing their bit to earn enough for one proper meal a day.’
    • ‘I worked at a racetrack, picked fruit, traveled about as a vagabond.’
    • ‘Elizabethan England faced a mounting economic problem as the poor became poorer, and a growing army of vagabonds and beggars roamed the streets and countryside.’
    • ‘A group of vagabonds and derelicts inhabit a shelter in Moscow, presided over by a fanatical leader who preaches the love of everyone for everyone.’
    • ‘He writes about artisans, peasants, the rural poor, vagabonds, and beggars.’
    • ‘He had found her, a run away vagabond, on the side of the road.’
    • ‘Beggars, vagabonds, prostitutes, and criminals occupied the bottom of this social order, and might have made up as much as 10 to 20 per cent of the urban population.’
    • ‘He is, says his biographer, ‘an old-fashioned theatrical vagabond, travelling light’.’
    • ‘I was walking to my campus, it was in 1985, when I saw the body of a vagabond not far from the campus entrance gate.’
    • ‘Every European country legislated against vagrancy, often insisting that vagabonds should be returned to their parish of origin, and if necessary whipped or branded to deter them from trying again.’
    itinerant, wanderer, nomad, wayfarer, traveller, gypsy, rover, tramp, vagrant, drifter, transient, migrant, homeless person, derelict, beachcomber, down-and-out, beggar, person of no fixed abode, person of no fixed address, knight of the road, bird of passage, rolling stone
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    1. 1.1dated, informal A dishonest or unprincipled person.
      • ‘She got married one lunchtime and didn't tell her parents until she was four months pregnant, because my father was an actor, and actors then were kind of vagabonds, you know.’
      • ‘According children V.I.P treatment only helps to groom rogues and vagabonds in the long term.’
      • ‘Considering her taste in men she'll probably run off with another backwater vagabond, who's been partially tamed by the military.’
      • ‘We can't afford first time grants for houses, but we can afford €60m to buy an ego boosting plane for the vagabonds who squandered the boom years.’
      • ‘Her husband was a drunken vagabond, a parasite who suspected her every move.’
      • ‘The husband arranges her marriage with a person who is considered a vagabond.’
      • ‘It would be most unusual if there were not rogues and vagabonds in the industry.’
      • ‘Bind him fast or by Zeus, I shall see you rotting in gaol alongside this upstart vagabond!’
      • ‘His father, Leon Smet, was a Belgian with both French and Flemish in him - a good-looking vagabond, himself fatherless, who performed in cabarets and theatres, starting up groups and disbanding them, and dropping wives as easily.’
      • ‘I don't attract a clientele of vagabonds and rogues and scurrilous types with evil motives.’
      scoundrel, villain, rogue, rascal, brute, animal, weasel, snake, monster, ogre, wretch, devil, good-for-nothing, reprobate, wrongdoer, evil-doer
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  • attributive Having no settled home.

    ‘a vagabond poacher’
    • ‘A vagabond black crow which was found wandering in Kimberley Road a few days ago, is now lodging at the Queen's Park Zoo until someone claims him - for he appears to be a pet.’
    • ‘Born in Texas, and named by an Indian mystic, Devendra is a vagabond artist in the purest sense of the word.’
    • ‘He could not survive on his own, a vagabond dog on the run.’
    • ‘Block out the sight of vagabond children hawking tat at traffic intersections.’
    • ‘Well these visions unfold in front of me like a play put on by a traveling band of vagabond gypsies.’
    • ‘The Inn was full of vagabond sailors and people who worked about Cabana Bay.’
    • ‘A vagabond performer, he was born with severe abnormalities, including two lumps on either side of his forehead (which look suspiciously like budding horns) and malformed feet.’
    • ‘I can't quit my job and become a vagabond anti-imperial rebel at this stage of my life.’
    • ‘Niche travel, which is the category we vagabond surfers fall under, is available online too.’
    • ‘The House of Commons first came into prominence as an instrument of the tyrant Henry VIII, to rob the Church and the poor, creating a vagabond underclass and a crime wave that lasted for centuries.’
    • ‘And he was there, the vagabond journeyman sorcerer that had seized what must have seemed a reasonable opportunity at the time.’
    • ‘I was a vagabond disk jockey on small stations with little income at age 30.’
    • ‘I suppose if I were a journalist with some newspaper's or magazine's code of ethics, instead of being a vagabond poet, I might have to be careful about accepting even pens and calendar.’
    • ‘The extent of his acting ability is further shown in his portrayal of his own vagabond jazz trombonist father.’
    • ‘One advantage the vagabond angler has is the knowledge gained by casting over different venues.’
    itinerant, wandering, nomadic, travelling, ambulatory, mobile, on the move, journeying, roving, roaming, vagrant, transient, floating, migrant, migrating, migratory
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[no object]archaic
  • Wander about as or like a vagabond.

    ‘he went vagabonding about the world’
    • ‘Perhaps not coincidentally, Amelia's vagabonding seems to have run across a few stops of the National Air Races which were underway at the same time.’
    • ‘At home most of the time, I would bundle my baby in his stroller and go vagabonding as and when the weather would allow.’
    • ‘I think she was happy vagabonding with the couple.’
    • ‘The most savvy travellers I know log onto Thorn Tree as they vagabond.’
    • ‘He vagabonded his way to Paris and immediately settled into a bohemian life.’
    wander, roam, rove, range, travel, travel idly, journey, voyage, globetrot, drift, coast, meander, gad about, gallivant, jaunt, take a trip, go on a trip
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Middle English (originally denoting a criminal): from Old French, or from Latin vagabundus, from vagari ‘wander’.