The word "Bum"

Posted by Janes_kid on July 27, 2003

In Reply to: The word "Bum" posted by Bob on July 26, 2003

: : What is origin of the word "Bum"?
: : From what was it derived?

: It's a word that can cause trans-Atlantic hilarity, because it has entirely different meanings on each side of the pond. In the UK, it's a (modestly) vulgar term for backside. In the U.S., it's a hobo, tramp, worthless person. It's also a verb meaning "borrow" as in "bum a cigarette." The American meanings are from the German "Bummler," a loafer. It got shortened to bum in the mid-19th C. It has also morphed into "ski bum" and "beach bum" and similar expressions to denote someone who spends most of his or her time engaged in that pursuit. It is mildly perjorative, with the undercurrent of "doesn't have more useful things to do." The origin of the UK version is French or Old French "bom."
: Which did you mean?

Half century ago in the rural southeast US we frequently used slang, especially in mixed gender situations, which is often described here as British. Bum would mean backside, buttocks, rear end or a** "in the presence of the 'ladies'".