hobo synonymous with panhandler or beggar

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Mon Apr 2 16:23:17 UTC 2012

JL wrote, inter alia:

....It's especially interesting since the ety. of "hobo" remains unknown.....


For what it may be worth, the earliest known usage--at least the earliest one mentioned on ads-l--of "hobo" offers a (proposed) etymology.

St. Paul daily globe., November 30, 1885, Page 8, Image 9 col. 1 -2

After mention of Hennepin County, etc., in  the section "thieves' Vocabulary":

....An overcoat is a "Ben." Hobo is a call to attract attention, the same as Hello in the average citizen's vernacular. It is pronounced with the long sound of the vowel, o, in both syllables, and is sometimes uttered with the aspirate omitted, as "Obo," and is the shibboleth of the fraternity of bums and crooks. It s now commonly applied by them as a generic term to designate he order....

Stephen Goranson

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

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