Meaning of drifter


An aimless wanderer, someone without a permanent home, is a drifter. Your distant cousin who parks his camper in your driveway for a few weeks and then moves on? You can call him a drifter.

The original meaning of drifter was a miner whose job was excavating horizontal tunnels, which were known as drifts. Starting around 1880, it was also used for a type of fishing boat that used drift nets. For most of the 20th century, however, the most common use of drifter was to describe a vagrant, homeless person, or someone whose lifestyle involved drifting from place to place.

Definitions of drifter
  1. noun

    a wanderer who has no established residence or visible means of support


    floater, vagabond, vagrant

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    a vagrant living on a beach

    a tramp who habitually arrives at sundown
    bum, hobo, tramp

    a disreputable vagrant
    dosser, street person

    someone who sleeps in any convenient place
    type of:

    have-not, poor person

    a person with few or no possessions
    bird of passage, roamer, rover, wanderer

    someone who leads a wandering unsettled life

Word Family

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