bum 1 (bŭm)
1. A tramp; a vagrant.
2. A lazy or shiftless person, especially one who seeks to live solely by the support of others.
3. An incompetent, insignificant, or obnoxious person: The batter called the pitcher a bum.
4. One who spends a lot of time doing a particular recreational activity: a beach bum; a ski bum.
v. bummed, bum·ming, bums
1. To live by begging and scavenging from place to place. Often used with around.
2. To pass time idly; loaf. Often used with around.
3. Informal To be depressed, disheartened, or dismayed: After our team lost the championship, we were bumming.
1. To acquire by begging; cadge. See Synonyms at cadge.
2. Informal To depress, dishearten, or dismay. Often used with out.
1. Inferior; worthless: gave me bum advice; did a bum job of fixing the car.
2. Disabled; malfunctioning: a bum shoulder.
3. Unfavorable or unfair: got a bum deal on my final grade for the course.
4. Unpleasant; lousy: had a bum time at the party.
on the bum
1. Living as a vagrant or tramp.
2. Out of order; broken.
[Back-formation from BUMMER.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.