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From Middle English trampen ‎(to walk heavily), from Middle Low German trampen ‎(to stamp) (trampeln ‎(to walk with heavy steps), see trample), or Middle Dutch trampen ‎(to stamp), from Proto-Germanic *tramp-.

The noun sense “vagabond” evolved from the sense “one who tramps”, from 1664.[1] The sense "ship" is from about 1880, sense "promiscuous woman" is from 1922.

Cognate to Dutch trampen ‎(to stamp, kick, step), German trampen ‎(to hitchhike). Probably related to trap.


tramp ‎(plural tramps)

  1. (pejorative) A homeless person, a vagabond.
    • 1914, Louis Joseph Vance, Nobody, chapter III:
      [S]he had thought to discover a burglar of one or another accepted type—either a dashing cracksman in full-blown evening dress, lithe, polished, pantherish, or a common yegg, a red-eyed, unshaven burly brute in the rags and tatters of a tramp.
  2. (pejorative) A disreputable, promiscuous woman; a slut.
    "I can't believe you'd let yourself be seen with that tramp."
    "Claudia is such a tramp; making out with all those men when she has a boyfriend."
  3. Any ship which does not have a fixed schedule or published ports of call.
    • 1888, Robert Louis Stevenson, The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson; Volume 2, chapter 9:
      I was so happy on board that ship, I could not have believed it possible. We had the beastliest weather, and many discomforts; but the mere fact of its being a tramp-ship gave us many comforts; we could cut about with the men and officers, stay in the wheel-house, discuss all manner of things, and really be a little at sea.
    • 1919, Charles Fort, The Book of the Damned, chapter 10:
      Then I think I conceive of other worlds and vast structures that pass us by, within a few miles, without the slightest desire to communicate, quite as tramp vessels pass many islands without particularizing one from another.
    • 1924, George Sutherland, Texas Transport Terminal Company v. New Orleans: Dissent Brandeis:
      Some of these are regular ocean liners; others are casual tramp ships.
    • 1960, Lobsang Rampa, The Rampa Story, chapter Six:
      “Hrrumph,” said the Mate. “Get into uniform right away, we must have discipline here.” With that he stalked off as if he were First Mate on one of the Queens instead of just on a dirty, rusty old tramp ship.
  4. (Australia, New Zealand) A long walk, possibly of more than one day, in a scenic or wilderness area.
    • 1968, John W. Allen, It Happened in Southern Illinois, page 75:
      The starting place for the tramp is reached over a gravel road that begins on Route 3 about a mile south of Gorham spur.
    • 2005, Paul Smitz, Australia & New Zealand on a Shoestring, Lonely Planet, page 734:
      Speaking of knockout panoramas, if you′re fit then consider doing the taxing, winding, 8km tramp up Mt Roy (1578m; five to six hours return), start 6km from Wanaka on Mt Aspiring Rd.
    • 2006, Marc Llewellyn, Lee Mylne, Frommer′s Australia from $60 a Day, page 186:
      The 1½-hour tramp passes through banksia, gum, and wattle forests, with spectacular views of peaks and valleys.
  5. Short for trampoline, especially a very small one.
  6. (in apposition): Of objects, stray and intrusive and unwanted


Derived terms[edit]



tramp ‎(third-person singular simple present tramps, present participle tramping, simple past and past participle tramped)

  1. To walk with heavy footsteps.
  2. To walk for a long time (usually through difficult terrain).
    We tramped through the woods for hours before we found the main path again.
  3. To hitchhike
  4. (transitive) To tread upon forcibly and repeatedly; to trample.
  5. (transitive) To travel or wander through.
    to tramp the country
  6. (transitive, Scotland) To cleanse, as clothes, by treading upon them in water.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Jamieson to this entry?)

Derived terms[edit]



  1. ^ tramp” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary (2001).
  2. ^



tramp c, n

  1. a step, a footprint n
  2. (uncountable) the sound of feet (boots, shoes, hooves) walking n
    först då blir lyckan riktigt stor, när trampet hörs av små, små skor
    at last your luck will be complete, when you hear the tripping of tiny shoes (traditional wedding congratulation telegram)
  3. a tramp, a cargo ship without fixed routes c


Related terms[edit]