Origin of "hobo" (1888); "Hot dog" and "pants" (1870, 1886)

Wed Jun 28 18:12:15 UTC 2006

        Here is an alternative and less detailed account of the origin
of "hobo":

        <<The term "hobo" was not originally of evil significance.  It
originated in the west, when the great tide of humanity swept in that
direction; and it was applied to the many who, failing of their first
hopes, were forced to the necessity of tramping from community to
community in quest of employment.  A hobo is a better sort of man than a
tramp, has more self-respect, is usually young, and may, I believe, be
called a tramp in the first stage.>>

"Tramps and Hoboes," in 20 The Railway Agent and Station Agent 25 (Sept.
1898) (via Google Books).

        Some additional "order of tramps" references:

        Martha Finley, Christmas with Grandma Elsie (1888) (Gutenberg
text):  "In traversing the wood they came upon a man leaning idly
against a tree, in a lounging attitude, with his hands in his pockets, a
half consumed cigar in his mouth.

        He was a stranger to the children, and from, his shabby, soiled
clothing, unkempt locks, and unshaven face, it was evident he belonged
to the order of tramps."

        Ambrose Bierce, The Death of Halpin Frayser (1891):  "I'm bound
to admit that a more unshaven, unshorn, unkempt, and uneverything wretch
I never saw outside the ancient and honorable order of tramps."

John Baker

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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