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A Dictionary of Old Hobo Slang

Stephen P. Alpert - March 31, 2004

Compiled from many books on hoboes, and also some original material supplied to the author.


Click to return from whence you came! ~ A ~
accommodation - a local freight train
ace spot - one dollar
airdale - an extreme loner
alkee stiff - a tramp that consumed alcohol
alki - a) an alcoholic b) alcohol
alligator bait - fried or stewed liver
All Tramps Sent Free - Atchinson, Topeka and Santa Fe RR
anchor - a pick
angel - a person who gives more than you expect
angel food - a mission sermon
Angelina - a punk or road kid acting as a hobo's companion
Auntie - Angelina grown older
antique - an old-timer on the road
apple knocker - an apple picker
Apple Butter Route - Norfolk and Western RR (southern Ohio)
axle grease - butter
axle swinging - riding under a railroad car

Click to return from whence you came! ~ B ~
badorder - a boxcar on its way to the repair yard
bad road - a railroad or division where trainmen are especially hard on hoboes
bakehead - a fool or idiot
baldy - an old man
bale of straw - a blonde woman
balling the Jack - speeding
ball lump - sandwiches or cake wrapped up and handed to a tramp
balloon - a pack or bedroll, carried over the back or shoulder
banjo - a short-handed shovel
baraby - a genteel, quiet, respectful tramp
barber - to talk, usually too much
barnacle - a fellow who sticks to one job a year or more
barrel house - a cheap, filthy lodging house
batter - to beg
batting - to wander aimlessly
battleship - a high-sided steel coal car usually with a hopper or dump bottom
bazoo - mouth
beagles - hot dogs
bedroom of stars - a city park
to beef on - to inform
beefer - a) one who whines b) an informer
belly of a drag - the underside of a slow freight train
belly robber - a boarding boss who tries to save money on food
ben - a vest
benny - an overcoat
biddies - hen's eggs
the Big Burg - New York City
big four - a duck egg omelet
Big "G" - Great Northern RR
big hook - a big steam crane
big house - the state penitentiary
big O - a train conductor
Big Ole - a fellow who tries to show the boss how strong he is
big school - the state penitentiary
the Big Smoke - Pittsburgh
Big Rock Candy Mountain - the hobo's paradise
the Big Town - a) New York City b) Chicago
bindle - a bundle, bag, bedroll, or backpack carried by a hobo
bindle stick - a stick used to carry a bindle over the shoulder
bindle stiff - a) a hobo who carries his gear in a sack or bundle b) a hobo who carries his bedding
biscuit - a silver dollar
biscuit shooter - camp waiter or hash slinger
bit - a term in prison
bitch - an improvised candle
Bitter Biscuit Line - Piedmont divisions of the Southern RR
black bottle - poison allegedly given to hoboes in hospitals
black strap - coffee
blanket stiff - a hobo who carries his bedding
blind - the space between the engine and the mail or baggage car
blind baggage - hoboes who ride the blind
blinky - a train rider who lost one or both eyes
blip - a nickel
blister - an old woman
blisters - beggars who put chemicals on their limbs to simulate ugly sores
Mr. Block - one who believes police mean well and sharks are good fellows
block scrapings - meat begged from a butcher
blowed in the glass - trustworthy
blowed-in-the-glass stiff - a) an upper-class tramp b) a true and trusted pal
blowing smoke - boasting
B.N. - Burlington Northern
bob tail - a short local freight train
bo-ette - a female hobo
Bohunk - A Polish or other Slavic laborer
boil up - to wash clothes and kill any vermin therein
bone orchard - a graveyard
bone polisher - a wicked dog
boodle - cheap grafting done by yeggs
boodle jail - a jail providing a good winter's lodging
boomer - a) a transient railroad worker b) a seasonal or migratory worker
booming - going from one job to another
booster - a chronic drunk
booze hoister - a heavy drinker
bossy in a bowl - beef stew
boston - a pool game
Boston bum - a highbrow poser
bottle wagon - an iron coal car
Bowery barometer - curbstone philosopher from the New York main stem
boxcar tramp - one who regularly rides boxcars
boxcar Willies - hoboes and tramps
bracers - legs
braky - a brakeman
Bread and Milk Route - Boston & Maine RR
breezer - a hobo
bridal chamber - a) a flop house where guests lie on the floor b) a miner's workplace
Bridgeport - any hick town
bridge snake - a structural iron worker
bridger - a train rider who has ridden both steam and diesel trains
Broken & Maimed - Boston & Maine RR
Browning Sisters - the Angelina sorority
Buck - a Catholic priest good for a dollar
budge - an upper front pocket
bug - a lamp in a hobo jungle
bull - railroad policeman
bull artist - a hobo with a gift of gab
bull cook - a) a camp flunky; b) a cook's helper
bullets - beans, when poorly cooked and hard
bull horrors - obsessive fear of the police
bull local - a freight which travels between divisions, often stopping at local yards
bum - a skid row alcoholic, infrequently found on freight trains, does not work
bumpers - couplings between freight cars where hoboes sometime ride
bums on the plush - the idle rich
The Bum's Own - Baltimore & Ohio RR
bundle tosser - a hobo harvest hand who pitches bundles
buttermilker - a hobo from Pittsburgh, PA
buzz - to beg

Click to return from whence you came! ~ C ~
C. and A. pockets - huge pockets on the inside of a coat for carrying food
cackleberries - eggs
cacklers - white collar workers
cages - cubicle rooms in the cheap lodging houses
Cali - California
California blanket - newspapers, used to sleep under
call - a hobo dish of mashed potatoes, butter liverwurst and onions
calling in - a ) using another's campfire to cook b) visiting
cally or callie - a police station (from calaboose)
camp eye - the hobo who looks after jungle while the others are away
candle eater - a Russian
candy job - a pleasant or "sweet" job
canned heater - one who drank a deadly potion of cheap alcohol and water
Canned Meat & Stale Punk - Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul RR
cannonball - a ) a fast freight train b) the mythical hobo's train which is fast and goes everywhere
Captain - a head man or big shot
card man - a union man or hobo with a red I.W.W. card
car knocker - a yard man who works assembling trains
The Carry All - Chicago & Alton RR
carry the banner - to walk the streets all night, not having a place to sleep
case dough - the last of your bankroll
Casey - Kansas City, MO
cat - a young tramp or hobo, new to the roads
cat wagon - a brothel on wheels
catch - to board a train
catch back - to ride the way you have come on a freight
catch him on the run - to board a train while it is moving
catting in - using another's campfire to cook
cattle stiff - a cowboy
chaw - an Irishman
checkerboard crew - mixed crew of white and black workers
cheesy - to be filthy with dirt
chicken in the clay - a fowl rolled in mud and then roasted
chuck-a-dummy - to fake a fainting fit in order to get sympathy
chronicker - a hobo who carried his cooking utensils
Cincie - Cincinnati, OH
cinder dick - a railway policeman who rode the trains
cinder sifter - tramping along the railroad tracks
the City - New York City
clam - one dollar
clay on the shuck - ears of corn rolled in clay and put to roast
clover kicker - farmer
coal passer - fireman
coffee bag - the coat pocket (where the coffee is carried)
Cold, Hungry & Damp - Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton RR
collar and shoulder style - everything is put on the table and the hobo guest helps himself
combination stew - a jungle dish of vegetables and meat
combination train - a mixed passenger and freight local train
comet - a) hobo new to the road b) a high-class hobo or tramp who only rides fast trains
con (or connie) - a) conductor b) a tubercular person
convention - any impromptu gathering of hoboes
coop - jail
Cough and Snort - Colorado and Southern RR
Cousin Jack - a Englishman
cover with the moon - to sleep in the open
cozzy - a men's public lavatory
crimps - rheumatism
croaker or crocus - a doctor, especially a quack
crotch crickets - crabs (lice)
crowbar hotels - local police stations
crumb boss - a janitor or porter for western construction-camp bunkhouses
crumbs - lice
crummy - a) the caboose b) to be lousy
crum roll - a bed roll
crums - lice
culls - hash, inferior
cushions - a passenger train or car
cut out - to drop off one or more freight cars on a siding or in a freight yard

Click to return from whence you came! ~ D ~
dace - a two-cent piece
daddy - a Cadillac auto
dago red - a cheap wine
Damn Rotten Grub - Denver, Rio Grande RR
damper - cash register
de - the
deadhead - an empty car in back of the engine tender
dead one - a) a retired hobo b) a drunken hobo c) a hobo who just spent all his money
dead picker - a yegg who robs a drunk
dead soldier - an empty whiskey bottle lying beside the road
death wood - plank above the coupling of boxcars
deck address - a secret address
deck 'em - to ride the top of a passenger train
deck hand - a domestic, who does ordinary work around the house
decorate the mahogany - to buy the drinks
deece - a dime
deep-sea chef - a dishwasher
dehorn - denatured alcohol
derail - denatured alcohol
deuce - two dollars
dicer or dice train - a fast freight train
dicer - a hat
dimmer - a dime
ding bat - a dreg of vagrantdom; mooches off other hoboes
dingoes - hoboes who refuse to work even though they claim to be looking for a job
ding shop - a mission or transient camp
dingy - a colored vagabond
dino - one who sponged food off fellow hoboes
dip - a pickpocket
discard artist - one who wears picked up clothes
ditch - to put off a train
division - main freight yards, usually 500 miles apart
doc - someone who supplies alcohol
Doctor Bates - a tough hobo
dog house - caboose
dog robber - a boarding house keeper
The Dope - Baltimore & Ohio RR
double-ender - a train with two engines and two cabooses
doughhead - a baker
doughnut philosopher - a hobo who is satisfied with coffee and feed
drag - a) a slow freight train b) the main street of a town c) a homosexual party
drag, on the - on the road or on the street of a town
drag line - track onto which a train is pulled when being passed on the main line
Dr. Hall - alcohol, liquor
drill - a) to walk or hike b) a switch engine
dry combo - a meal that needed no cooking
ducket - a ticket or card good for a feed or a flop
duffer - bread and coffee
duke player - a person who cheats at cards or checkers
dukie - anything to eat
dummy - a tramp that pretends to be deaf and dumb
dump - a meeting place, a rendezvous
dynamiter - one who sponged food off fellow hoboes
dyno - a) a tramp who follows the highway instead of the railroad b) a tramp who begs off other tramps c) a rock man who handles dynamite

Click to return from whence you came! ~ E ~
eagle eye - locomotive engineer
eat snowballs - to stay north on the road in the winter
empty - an empty boxcar, without a load of freight
Espee - Southern Pacific RR
exhibition meal - a meal eaten at the doorstep (so neighbors can witness madam's generosity)
extra gang - a crew that works on the railroad track
eye opener - an early morning drink

Click to return from whence you came! ~ F ~
faded bogey - a Negro acting as an informer
fag - a) a cigarette butt b) a road kid with homosexual tendencies
fakir - a bum or tramp pretending to be a hobo
faith man - a mission stiff
fanner - being hit on the soles while sleeping on a park bench
fielder - a brakeman
fin - five dollars
fingy or fingers - a train rider who lost one or more fingers
fish - jail term for new prisoners
fisheries - missions along the main stem
First of May - an new, inexperienced hobo
five-hundred milers - through freights that stop only at divisions
flannel mouth - an Irishman
flat - a flat car
flat-wheeler - a bad-riding car
fleabag - a bedroll or sleeping bag
flicker - to faint or simulate fainting
flim-joint - a bank
flip - to hop a moving train
flop - to sleep, or a place to sleep
flopper - a tramp that squats on the sidewalk in business thoroughfares; may fake being crippled
flying light - a) hungry b) traveling without a bindle
fly-away - a military deserter
flyer - an express train
fly light - to miss a meal
fly mugs - private police
forty-fives - navy beans
Foul Water & Dirty Cars - Fort Worth & Denver City RR
freezer - a refrigerator car
Frenchy - a French-Canadian hobo
fresno - a roadbed scraper drawn by horses
frisk a drag - to search a freight for a suitable riding place
frog (or frog eater) - a Frenchman
fusee - a warning device to place on the track
fuzzy tail - a) a dreg of vagrantdom b) a tramp in bad humor

Click to return from whence you came! ~ G ~
galway - a priest
gandy dancer - a) a railroad worker b) a hobo shovel stiff
gandy stiff - one who occasionally labored, a day or two at the most
gas - wood alcohol or doped cider or ether
gat - a gun
gate - a railway switch
gay cat - a) a tenderfoot hobo b) someone employed as a scout by criminal tramps
George - a) one who is shrewd, alert, and well informed b) everything is fine
get a fanner - to be moved on by the police
ghosts - beggars who simulate pallor, haggardness, or disease
ghost story - plausible tale told to the housewife
giggle - a gumbo made by gandy dancers
Gila-monster route - part of the Southern Pacific running through Arizona
gink - a poor unfortunate
gink stiff - same as gandy stiff
gin mill - a) a speakeasy b) a leather wallet
Give Tie Passes - Grand Trunk Pacific RR
glauming - gathering or stealing
glims - spectacles
glomming the grapevine - stealing clothes from a clothesline
G.N. - Great Northern
goat - a yard locomotive
going by hand - walking
going on the farm - a train going on a side track
go junking - to scavenge for scrap metal or other material to sell for salvage
gondola (or gonnie) - a shallow, uncovered car
gonsil - a youth not yet adopted by a jocker
gooseberrying - stealing clothes off a clothesline
gooseberry ranch - a brothel
goozlum - thick and gummy in substance (mud, food, etc.)
go with the birds - to go south for the winter
grab and armful of boxcars - catch a freight train
grabbing scenery - an inexperienced hobo easily spotted as he watches the scenery
grab iron - a bar welded onto a boxcar and held onto when jumping over the couplings
grainer - a freight car for carrying heavy loads that need protection from the elements
graveyard - hash
graveyard stew - hot milk and toast (for those of few or no teeth)
grease ball - a dreg of vagrantdom
grease ranch - restaurant
grease the track - suicide by leaping in front of a train
grinder - teeth
groundhog - brakeman
growler - a can of beer
gummy - a hobo who goes along with the crowd but never contributes
gumbo - an old can used by a tramp or hobo
gump - chicken
gun boat - a) a steel coal car b) an empty tin can for cooking or washing clothes
gun moll - a dangerous woman tramp
gunnels (or gunnells) - the rods of a train where hoboes ride
gunsel (or guntzel) - a green youth
gut plunge - a trip to the butcher to beg for meat for the Mulligan
guts - meat, usually sausage
gyppo - a sub-contractor with poor equipment

Click to return from whence you came! ~ H ~
half a yard - fifty dollars
halfy - train rider who lost both legs above the knees
ham - to walk about the country
hand the match - giving an intruder a match to make his own fire, indicating he is not welcome
hard oil - butter
hard tails - old mules
harness bulls - uniformed policemen
harvest buzzard - a hobo who works in the harvest
hasher - a female cookhouse helper
hay bag - a female hobo or stew bum
head end - the front section of a train (locomotive and water tender)
headlights - eggs
heifer - any young woman
helpers - extra engines attached to a train to pull it over an upgrade
hidden hands - beggars who hide or bind their hands
hieser - tramp
highball - a ) to go full speed b) two whistle toots signaling that a train is about to move
highball whistle - one short and one long whistle signaling a train is about to leave
high diver - a yegg who picks pockets
high fence - a man's white neck collar
high heels - a woman hobo, or women hoboes collectively
high iron - the main line of the railroad
high jacket - a yegg who robs hoboes
High Line - the old Great Northern route through the Dakotas, Montana, Idaho, Washington
high-roller - a hustling tramp
High Yaller Line - Savannah & Atlanta RR
hiker - town Marshall
the Hill - the Sierra Nevadas
His Nibs - police court judge
hit a lick - make a score
hit the ball - to speed up on the job
hitting grounders - picking up cigarette butts
hitting a New Yorker - finding a long cigarette butt
hitting the grit - a) walking along tracks b) being forces off a fast moving train
hobo belt - the citrus belt of California (a favorite wintering place)
Hobohemia - the universe of the hobo
hobo nighthawk - a railroad policeman disguised as a hobo
hobo shortline - suicide by flinging oneself in front of a train
hobo special - a freight train of empty cars
hog - a locomotive
hogger (or hog mauler or hoghead) - engineer
hogleg - a long-barreled gun
holding the lady (or her) down - riding the rods under a train car
home guard - a native, non-migrating worker
honey dipping - working as a shovel stiff in a sewer, or any unpleasant shovel work
hoop chisler - a peddler of worthless rings and watches
hoosier - the natives, generally simple fellows (rubes, hicks, yaps)
hooty - angry
Hoover blankets - see California blankets
hoppins - ingredients
the Horn - the triangular extension of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy RR
Horned Toad - the Albuquerque-Deming stem of the Santa Fe
horstile - a town unfriendly to hoboes
hot - a) illegal and dangerous b) fast c) wanted by the law
hot boxes - old-style lubrication on boxcar axles that created a rough ride
hot shot (or hotshot) - a freight train that goes cross country without breaking up
hot stuff - stolen goods
hot yard - a freight yard where hoboes are arrested for riding
house dog - someone who cleans windows, beats carpets, does other housework
how strong are you? - how much money do you have
hump - a) a small hill in a freight yard over which uncoupled cars are pushed b) the continental divide
hundred on a plate - a can of beans
hunger lane - a railroad that passes through country hostile to hoboes
hunt a wampus - a wild goose chase
hustle buggy - police vehicle

Click to return from whence you came! ~ I ~
ice palace - a high class saloon or brothel (with many mirrors)
ink - cheap red wine
Irish turkey - corned beef and cabbage
iron man - a silver dollar
irons - rails

Click to return from whence you came! ~ J ~
Jack - a generic term for any hobo or man
jack - money
jack-roller - one who robs a drunken person
Jake - everything is fine
jake leg - a chronic drunk
Jane - any woman or girl
java - coffee
jawbone - credit in the company store
The Jawbone - the Montana RR
J.B. - a Stetson hat
jerk town or jerkwater town - a small village or town
jerries - section hands
jerry gang - a railroad construction crew
Jesus guy - a mission stiff
jiggers - pretending affection to elicit sympathy while begging
jitney or jit - a nickel
jocker - a) an experienced hobo who taught minors that way of life b) the relationship was often sexual
Joe - coffee
John Brown Division - Harper's Ferry division of the B & O RR
John Family - farmers, police, or yeggs
John Hollow Legs - a hungry stiff
Johnny O'Brien - a boxcar
John O'Brien - a freight train
Johnson Family - the yegg community
join out - to hire out in order to gain transportation
jolt - a jail sentence
jolt wagon - a rough riding farm wagon
juble joo - yegg term for riding on top of a train
jug - a jail or prison
jug heister - a chronic drunk
jump the blind - ride on the platform of a baggage car
jungle - a) a hobo camp b) a social group that occupies a camp c) to camp together
jungle buzzard - a dreg of vagrantdom; one who begs around hobo jungles
jungle up - to rest, wash, and eat in a jungle
junk - drugs
junker (or junky) - a) fellow who uses drugs; b) a local work train

Click to return from whence you came! ~ K ~
kale - money
The Katy - Missouri Kansas & Texas RR
Kay See - Kansas City, MO
keister - suitcase
kelly - a hat
kelly stick - a device to aid in washing clothes and boiling up
key men - skilled workers
kick - a pocket in trousers
kicks - shoes
kip - a) to sleep b) a bed
kip house - a tramps or vagrants lodging house
kip jack or dough - money for a bed or lodging
knobhead - a mule
knob-knocker - safe-cracker
knowledge box - schoolhouse where hoboes sometimes sleep
ky wah - a hobo pitchman selling jewelry, pens, novelties

Click to return from whence you came! ~ L ~
lace curtains - whiskers
the Lake - Salt Lake City
lakers - hoboes who work on the Great Lakes and go south for the winter
lamb - a boy tramp or road kid
lambing - to heard sheep
Land of Manna - State of Utah
Land of Milk and Honey - State of Utah
leather poke - wallet
lee of a reefer - icebox on a refrigerator car, a potential place to ride
lefty - a train rider who lost left arm and leg
Less Sleep and More Speed - Lake Shore and Michigan Southern RR
library birds - unemployed men who lounge in libraries for shelter
lid - a cap or hat
lighthouse - a) one who can recognize plainclothes detectives b) a stingy person
light pieces - small gifts of money
limpy - a cripple
line - the underworld
little red wagon - a dump wagon
little school - reform school or house of correction
lizzie moocher - a tramp who panhandles food and gas in a car
load of culls - a plate of hash
Long Island peek - a sly glance from the corner of the eye
louse cage - a hat
Lousy Anna - Louisiana
lump - a handout (a sack or package of food)
lump oil - coal

Click to return from whence you came! ~ M ~
Ma and Pa RR - Maryland & Pennsylvania RR
made - the assembling of a train
main line - the track in the yard on which the through trains run
main stem - main street of a city or neighborhood
make a hole in the water - suicide by drowning
making a riffle - begging money
makins - tobacco; cigarette tobacco and papers
manifest - a fast train
mark - a hobo sign relaying information to other hoboes
meg - a penny
mess moll - a woman cook
Mickeyville - Mechanicsville, NY
milestone inspector - a professional; tramp
mill - a locomotive
Milk and Honey route - railroads through Mormon territory
minister's face - pig's head server in cheap restaurants
mission squawker - an evangelist
mission stiff - a tramp who lives in a mission
mitts - a train rider who lost one or both hands
mix me a hike - Pay me off! Give it to me!
moll-buzzers - women who pickpockets or begs from other women
mongee - money
moniker - a nickname
monitor - a long cigar butt
monkey chasers - West Indians or other Negroes from the tropics
mooch - to beg, usually at back doors
moocher - a professional beggar
Mop - Missouri Pacific RR
Mop Mary - a scrubwoman
moper - a bum who is even lower than a moocher
Mop Mary - a scrub woman
mop stick - barfly in a cheap saloon
muck stick - a long-handled shovel
mud - a) coffee b) strong coffee mixed with weak milk
mule - corn alcohol
The Mullet Line - Atlantic & East Carolina RR
Mulligan stew - hobo stew
mumbly pegs - a woman's legs
munies - municipal lodging houses
mushfaker - an umbrella mender or other repairman
mush rigger - an umbrella mender
mush talk - flattery

Click to return from whence you came! ~ N ~
nail a rattler - catch a train
Nat Wills - an old suit
navy - a long cigar butt
Never Come, Never Go - Nevada County Narrow Gauge RR (Calif.)
nickel flop - an all-night movie house
nickel note - a five dollar bill
noch - a Hebrew shelter for homeless men
nose bag - lunch handed out in a paper sack
nose diver - a tramp who lives in a mission
N.P. - Northern Pacific
nuttery - hospital for the insane

Click to return from whence you came! ~ O ~
obie - post office
Octopus - the Southern Pacific Railroad
odd fellows - three doughnuts and coffee
oil of joy - any strong drink
O'Leary - to walk
Oliver - the moon
One-Eyed Connolly - a gate crasher
one of the burlap sisters - a prostitute
one thousand miles - a dark or black shirt
on the hog - having no money
on the hummer - being on the bum but not down and out
on the plush - well off financially
on the uppers - being on the bum and nearly down and out
O.P.C - other people's cigarettes, recycled
open road - a railroad or division easy to travel (opposite of bad road)
Original Ham and Egg Route - Oberlin, Hampton and Eastern RR
outfit - a number of hoboes traveling in company (term later adopted by military in WWI)
outside 'bo - a hobo who winters outside
outside ride - riding a freight car exposed to the elements

Click to return from whence you came! ~ P ~
P.A. - Pennsylvania
pack of butts - a package of cigarettes
padding the hoof - going by foot
pale Vienna - coffee made with cream instead of water
palooka - a riving fighter who lives in the past
papa - a Lincoln automobile
park ape - a tramp who suns himself in city parks
Paul Bunyan - a chronic but interesting liar
pay station - a social welfare agency that gives out money
pay streak - a job that pays well
pearl diver - a dishwasher
peanut farm - workhouse where the inmates crack stones
pea soup - a French Canadian, often a lumberjack
peatman (or peterman) - a safe-blower
peddler - a local or slow freight
peg - a train rider who lost a foot
the Peg - Winnipeg, Canada
pennies - money, cash
pennsy - a coal car
Pennsy - Pennsylvania RR
Pennsylvania feathers - soft coal or coke
Pennsylvania salve - apple butter
Peoria - thin soup, generally potato water with salt
pershin - see prushun
pete man - a safe cracker or burglar
phony crip - self-mutilated or simulating a deformity
phony stiff (or phony man) - one who sells fraudulent or cheap jewelry
pickets - teeth
pie card - one who hangs around someone with money
pig - a box car or other train car
piggyback - a flat car on which a truck-trailer is bolted
pig's vest with buttons - sow belly, or any fat bacon
pile driver - good strong coffee
pill roller (or pill peddler) - a doctor
Pitsy - Pittsburgh, PA
Peoria (or Peory water) - a thin soup, usually potato water with salt
pickets - teeth
pig - a locomotive
pig iron dump - a hardware store
pig's vest with buttons - sow belly, fat bacon
pile driver - good strong coffee
pill peddler - a physician
pimp's turban - a bowler hat
pin grease - butter
pipe - to mooch or beg
piping the stem - begging on the streets
P.K. - the principal keeper of the little school
plainer - a hobo walking or riding through the Great Plains
plaster - butter
pling - to beg
plinger - a tramp that solicits alms at stores, offices, and residences
plinging - walking fast
plough jockey - a farmer
pogey (or pogie) - an almshouse or workhouse or poorhouse
poke - a wallet
pokeout - handout
pokey stiff - one who subsists on handouts solely
polish the mug - wash one's face and hands
poodle - town Marshal
possesh - a road kid
possish - one's position in the tramp's social scale
possum belly - riding atop or the deck under a passenger coach
postman - a hobo who goes fast and far
pot gang - a cluster of hoboes around a pot in a hobo jungle
pot walloper - a dish and pot washer
pound the ear - to sleep
power - engines
preshun - punk
privates - private dwellings
profesh - an experienced hobo, sometimes a criminal
prone the body - to lie down and rest
proper stiff - a tramp who considered manual toil the acme of disgrace
prushun or prushin - a) a young boy on the road b) a boy held in bondage by a jocker
pull a pin (or pull the pin) - to quit
punk - a) a boy discarded by a jocker b) a young hobo c) bread
punk and gut - bread and sausage
punk and plaster - bread and butter
punk and plaster route - traveling among the Pennsylvania Dutch
push - a road gang
pusher - the person in charge of the job

Click to return from whence you came! ~ Q ~
Q or The Que - Chicago, Burlington & Quincy RR

Click to return from whence you came! ~ R ~
Rabbi - a frequent moniker of a Jewish hobo
raghead - an oriental, from the turban some wear
rag(s) - a) a book or paper b) clothing c) paper money
railroad bull - a railroad policeman
railroad dick - a railroad policeman
rambler - a high class hobo who rides only fast passenger trains for long distances
rank cats - the lowest form of bum
rattler - a fast train
razor back - a circus roustabout
read your shirt - examine your clothes for lice
ready-mades - store-bought cigarettes
redball - a) a through freight train b) a fast fruit train
red eye - whiskey
red lead - catsup
reefer - refrigerator car
relievers - good shoes
remittance man - a hobo paid by his family to stay away from home
reuben - a small town inhabitant
ride the cushions - a) to live in luxury b) to pay for and ride in the passenger coach
ride the velvet - see ride the cushions
riding bulls - railroad police who ride the trains to arrest or chase off hoboes aboard
righty - a train rider who lost right arm and leg
rip-rapping - reinforcing the sides of a railroad cutting with stones
road hog - a hobo or tramp who is always on the move
road kid - a) a young hobo b) a boy held in bondage by a jocker
road sister - a female hobo
robbing the mail - snatching food and milk delivered at doorsteps early in the morning
Rodney - a tramp or hobo (from rod of a RR car?)
rods - bars beneath a freight car
roll - to rob a sleeping drunk
roundhead - a Swede
rubberglue - a plainclothes cop
rubber tramp - a tramp who lives and travels in an old automobile
rubbydub - denatured alcohol
ruff - a quarter (coin)
rummy stiff - a tramp with deranged intellect from habitual use of raw rum

Click to return from whence you came! ~ S ~
saddle blankets - hot cakes
sack of weeds - bag of tobacco
Sacred Tract Road - Boston & Albany RR
sagebrush philosopher - a gabby fellow from the west
sales lady - a prostitute
Sally, Sally Ann - Salvation Army
salve - a bribe given to a trainman for a ride
salve eater - a snuff chewing Swede
sand - sugar
sand hog - where sand is kept dry, for use on icy track
Santa Fe Town - San Bernardino, CA
sap - a policeman's club
sawbuck - ten dollars
scatter - a speakeasy
scenery bum - a young tramp on the move for the pleasure of it
scissorbill - a) one who doesn't want to join a labor union b) an ignorant person c) a farmer
scoffing - eating
scrape a mug - shave one's face
scrape the pavement - shave one's face
scrapers school - a barber school where hoboes could get a free haircut and shave
scratch - money or other assets
scratches - trousers
screw your nut - get wise to yourself
seam squirrels - body lice
sea food - a sailor
sea stiff - a sailor tramp
seed - a dollar
set down (or sit down) - having a full meal inside someone's house
set off - leave part of the train behind
sewer hog - a ditch digger
shack - a brakeman
shackle-up - to cook one's stew, especially in a jungle
shack fever - a) tired, sleepy, dopey feeling b) desire to hit the road and travel
shanny - shanty
shanty queen - any woman around a camp
shark - employment agent who sells jobs to hoboes
shatting on the uppers - to be broke
shavetails - a) young mules b) a young army officer of low rank
sheets - newspapers for a bed
shicer or sheister - swindler, shyster
shill through - to get in for free or bluff one's way
shine - a colored vagabond
shiner - a dime
shirt rabbits - lice
shiv (or shive) - a razor
shoo fly - a) a detour track built around a temporary obstacle b) avoid passing though a hobo-hostile town
shoot snipes - to collect discarded cigar and cigarette butts
short staker - a hobo who stays on the job long enough to amass traveling money
shroud - a suit of clothes
shuffler - a jobless worker
Shy - Chicago
side-door pullman - a boxcar
single O -- working alone by preference
sinker - a) a dollar b) a donut
sit down - see set down
sizzler - a) a cook b) a stove
skating on the uppers - dead broke
skee - whiskey
skin - a shirt or blouse
skin hustling - selling fake furs
skinner - a mule driver
skipper - the conductor
skoff - to eat
skuds - lots, plenty
sky blue - vegetable soup with little ingredients
sky piece - a hat
sky pilot - a mission-house or highbrow preacher
slamming a gate - to go to a private house and beg
slave market - employment agency
sleep - a short prison term
slides - shoes
slob sister - a moocher who weeps to his clients
sloughed - to be arrested (pronounced "slowed")
Slow Town - Detroit, MI
slum-gullion - stew, usually uninviting
slum hustling - selling fake jewelry
sly hay bag - a woman hobo who crafted items for sale
smacker - a dollar
smoke - strong liquor
smoke wagon - a pistol
snail - cinnamon roll
snake - switchman
Snakey Route - Oregon & California RR
snapper rig - second-hand suit of clothes
sneaky Pete - cheap wine
snipe - section hand
snipes - gathered-up cigarette or cigar butts
sniping - stealing
Sonora Town - a section of Los Angeles where hoboes wintered
snowball - morphine
snowbird - a person who uses drugs
snow-flier - a tramp that gets himself into jail for winter lodging and shelter
soft shoe - a railroad detective
son of Adam - a tramp willing to work for a snack or a meal
soogan (or sugan) - a blanket or comforter carried by a hobo
sop - gravy
Sow Belly Hack Line - a railroad division in central Tennessee
S.P. - Southern Pacific
spear - a success in mooching or begging
spear biscuits - to retrieve food from garbage cans
speck bum - a stew bum
speed balls - wine
spider - a) a small frying pan with a long handle b) a Ford car
spike pitcher - a harvest field worker
splinter belly - a) a carpenter b) a man who works on bridges and trestles
Spud Route - Bangor & Aroostook RR in Maine
square - a good meal
stable dog - a man who looks after the camp stables
stampers - tramps and hoboes in general
stack of bones - a cheap hash house dish, mostly boiled spare ribs
stake - money in pocket after leaving a job
star routes - country roads where food could be obtained
steam hog - a coal-burning engine
stem - street
stemming - panhandling in cities
sterno - wax soaked with alcohol
stew builder - a hobo camp cook
stew bum - a) a dreg of vagrantdom b) an old hobo wasted by alcohol
Stew Junction - Puyallup, WA
stickers - a) disguised begging by selling court plaster b) postage stamps
sticks - a train rider who lost a leg
stiff - any kind of hobo worker
stiffy - a tramp that simulates being paralyzed
straight crip - one actually crippled or otherwise afflicted
streamlined - traveling with little gear
Studebaker Town - South Bend, IN
student - a youngster on the road
stye bum - a tramp or bum who winters in jail
submarines - doughnuts
substantials - meat and potatoes, and bread and butter
sugan - see soogan
summer birds - tramps and hoboes who go south for the winter
swamper - fellow who cleans out the bar room
sweat board - concrete mixing by hand
sweet back - someone only sampling hobo life

Click to return from whence you came! ~ T ~
tail end - the end of a train
tailor's helper - a vicious dog
tailor's measure - a $50 bill
tails - tram stops
Take Patience and Walk - Toledo Peoria & Western RR
take the westbound - to die
Take Your Parcels and Walk - Texas Pacific & Western RR
taking the whiskers off - harvesting
talk west - to speak the hobo lingo
tallowpot - the fireman on a train
tally! - I understand, keep me in on it
tank town - a small town where trains stop to take on water
tap city - broke
tar pit - a derby hat
teapot - a locomotive
tear baby - one who bums women or men with women
thick - rich
thick one - a nickel
thin ones - small coins (pennies, nickels, dimes)
thin piece - a dime
third rail - whiskey
thousand-mile paper - thick brown paper used in freight cars for packing
thousand miler - a hobo's dark shirt that doesn't show dirt
through freight - a freight that goes from division to division without breaking up
throw - spend freely
throw my feet - to walk
throw the feet - to beg
throw the guts - to talk freely or too much; to squeal
ticket - a piece of wood placed over the rods for hoboes to sit on
tie pass - a fictitious permit from a RR president to walk along the track
timbers - disguised begging by selling pencils
timber beast - woodsman, logger
timber stiff - itinerant lumberjack
time freight - same as a through freight
tin roof - a free drink (it's "on the house")
tip the office - to warn a fellow hobo with some signal
toby - an English hobo
To Hell and Back - Toronto Hamilton & Buffalo RR
tomato can - can carried by hoboes for heating food, boiling water, etc., often tied to the waist
tooting ringers - ringing house doorbells
toppings - a) dessert at a meal; b) pastry
tossouts - beggars who distort and throw their joints out of order
tourist - general term for all hoboes, tramps, bums and vagrants
town clowns - town police
tramping - traveling on foot
trapeze artist - a rider of the rods
trombenick - a Jewish hobo
trombo - a hobo boxer, or one who hopes to be
turkey - a) a canvas bag for carrying possessions b) a half dollar
Tweetsy - East Tennessee & Western North Carolina RR
twist - a woman or girl
twist a dream - roll a cigarette

Click to return from whence you came! ~ U ~
units - engines
U.P. - Union Pacific
up on top ride - riding on top of a boxcar
upper deck - the top of a train

Click to return from whence you came! ~ V ~
vag - a) a vagabond b) to arrest for vagrancy
varnish - passenger train

Click to return from whence you came! ~ W ~
wagon tramps - families who travel in covered wagons
walking dandruff - head lice
wallie - a town bum who never loses sight of the town's walls
wally - a small town sport or gambler
wandering Willy's - hoboes and tramps
wangy - disguised begging by selling shoestrings
warthogs - a trainmaster
way freight - local freight train
Weary Willies - hoboes in general
weave hustling - selling spurious cloth
weeds - hobo jungle
weigh in - to meet
West Bound - what a hobo catches when he passes away
whale belly - a steel coal car
wheel - a leg
Whiskey Railroad - Frankfort & Cincinnati RR
whistle stop - a stop in a division to change crews
white line stiff - a tramp that consumed alcohol
white mule - uncolored moonshine whiskey
white one - a silver watch
Willy or the Willies - Goodwill Industries
windcheater - a burlap bag, feed sack, etc., worn for protection against the elements
wind pudding - air (having nothing to eat is living on wind pudding)
wingy - a train rider who lost one or both arms
wires - a tramp that peddles articles made of stolen telegraph wire
wobs - Wobblies, members of the I.W.W.
wolf - an older hobo who preys on young hoboes
wood butcher - a carpenter
woodhead - a lumberjack
woolies - sheep
working for Jesus - being a mission stiff
working stiff - a tramp or hobo who regularly works
wye - a railroad junction for trains

Click to return from whence you came! ~ X ~

Click to return from whence you came! ~ Y ~
yank - to arrest
yap - a) a hick, farmer b) a tenderfoot hobo
yard - $100
yard bull - railroad police who stay in the yards
yard donkey - yard engine used to push segments of trains from one track to another
yard goat - same at yard donkey
yard master - railroad employee who supervises the yard activity
yegg - a roving criminal
yellow one - a gold watch
York - New York City

Click to return from whence you came! ~ Z ~
zoo - a brothel
zook - a worn out old prostitute