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
    synonyms: floater, vagabond, vagrant
    see moresee less
    show 4 types...
    hide 4 types...
    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

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week