From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
While tramps may do odd jobs from time to time, they do not seek out regular work and support themselves by other means i.e. begging or scavenging. This is in contrast to:
- hobos who travel from place to place (often by catching rides on freight trains) looking for work.
- schnorrers, who travel from city to city begging. “Schnorrer” is a Yiddish term.
- bum, a stationary homeless person who does not work, hence begs or steals for a living
Both terms, “tramp” and “hobo” (and the distinction between them), were in common use between the 1880s and the 1940s, and were not limited to the Great Depression.
Like “hobo” and “bum”, “tramp” is considered somewhat rude in American English usage, having been subsumed in more polite contexts by words such as “homeless person” or “transient”. It remains relatively more common in British English, but has also been somewhat replaced with “homeless person”.
A vacilando is a kind of tramp for whom the travel as such is more important than the destination.