Hobo signs

This page lists all the various symbols in the Hobo signs category.

A hobo is a migratory worker or homeless vagabond—especially one who is penniless. The term originated in the Western (probably Northwestern) United States around 1890. Unlike "tramps"—who work only when they are forced to- and "bums" who do not work at all, "hobos" are itinerant workers.

It is unclear exactly when hobos first appeared on the American railroading scene. With the end of the American Civil War in the 1860s, many discharged veterans returning home began hopping freight trains. Others looking for work on the American frontier followed the railways west aboard freight trains in the late 19th century.

To cope with the difficulty of such a lifestyle, hobos developed a system of symbols, or a code. Hobos would write this code with chalk or coal to provide directions, information, and warnings to other hobos. Some signs included "turn right here", "beware of hostile railroad police", "dangerous dog", "food available here", and so on.

Symbols in this category:

A kind lady lives here

A cat signifies that a kind lady lives here.

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A place to sleep

This symbol possesses a number of different connotations (most notably as the "equals" concept in mathematics), but in the British system of hobo signs it indicates that here you can find a place to sleep for the night.

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Alarm

A French hobo sign indicating that this dwelling is wired by an alarm.

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Angry dog

A Swedish hobo sign indicating the danger posed by dogs in the area.

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Authority

A symbol from the French system of hobo signs indicating that an authority figure lives at this location.

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Avoid this place

A French hobo sign that says to stay away, this place is dangerous.

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Avoid this place (alternative)

A French hobo sign that says to stay away, this place is dangerous.

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Bad dogs and people

A Swedish hobo sign indicating that both aggressive dogs and aggressive people live here.

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Bad policeman

French hobo sign- the policeman in this area is bad.

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Bad water

A hobo symbol that signifies water not to be drink.

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Bad-tempered man

A house with this sign on it means that a bad-tempered man lives inside.

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Barking dog

A horizontal zigzag signifies a barking dog.

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Barking dogs

A hobo sign indicating that barking dogs are in the vicinity and the danger they possess.

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Beware of danger

French hobo sign that basically says "watch out".

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Beware of gun

The man inside the house has a gun.

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Brutal people

A British hobo sign indicating that the people who live here are not good.

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Burgled

A French hobo sign saying that this dwelling has already been robbed.

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Campsite with fresh water

This hobo sign indicates a campsite that has access to fresh water.

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Can sleep here

Where this sign appears it means that you can sleep in the barn.

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Can sleep here (alternate version)

Where this sign appears it means that you can sleep in the barn.

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Chance of food

Although this symbol has several meanings, in the British system of hobo signs it indicates that the people here sometimes hand out food.

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Crime

Hobo sign in the United States, France an Sweden- a crime has been committed in this area and it is not safe for strangers.

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Danger

Where this sign is found, it means that that place is dangerous.

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Danger of arrest

In the British system of hobo signs, this symbol means that the people here will try to get you arrested, so beware.

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Dangerous inhabitants

A sign in both the Swedish and British hobo systems:

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Decent policeman

French hobo sign- the policeman in this area is all right.

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Defense

In the United States system of hobo signs, this symbol means that you should be ready to defend yourself.

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Do not enter

A French hobo sign indicating that there are traps inside this area and warning others to stay away.

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Dogs in the yard

A symbol from the French hobo system saying to beware of dogs.

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Dogs in the yard (French, version 2)

A sign saying to be careful, there are dogs around.

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Dogs in the yard (French, version 3)

A sign saying to be careful, there are dogs around.

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Don't say anything

A hobo sign that means don't talk to anyone.

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Dont' worry

Although this sign has astrological as well as meteorological significance, in the United States system of hobo signs, it means that people in the area leave hobos alone and there is no need to be afraid.

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Easy access or resistance

A hobo sign that has distinctly different meanings depending on the system in question.

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Evil people

French hobo sign- there are evil people living here.

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Food for work

A French hobo sign that indicates good work will be rewarded with food.

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Friendly people

A sign from the French hobo system meaning "here live friendly people".

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Fruit trees

A symbol from the British system of hobo signs. Where this mark appears, it mean that the garden contains fruit trees (a potential source of food).

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Get what you want

In the US system of hobo signs, this means "here you can get whatever you want"/"they will give you all you ask for".

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Go on this way

A symbol from the British and Swedish systems of hobo signs that indicates you should continue moving in this direction.

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Go this way

Although this symbol strongly resembles the traditional sign of Mars turned 45 degrees to the left, its meaning is very different.

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Go to Hell

Wherever this sign is placed, is means that the local people tell you to go to Hell.

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Good home

A French hobo sign indicating that this home is a good one. Its inhabitants are hospitable and generous.

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Good road

Strongly resembling the common symbol for a ban or prohibition, in the United States system of hobo signs, this mark indicates that the current road is a good one to follow.

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Help for the ill

A hobo sign in both France and Sweden.

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Here it is

A hobo sign indicating the location of something.

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Here live only women

A French hobo sign indicating that only women live in a particular house.

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Here live only women (alternative)

A French hobo sign indicating that only women live in a particular house.

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Here you can get work

A French hobo sign that says there are job opportunities available here.

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Hidden money

A French hobo sign that indicates money- there's a lot of it but it's well-hidden.

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Hobos are thieves

A French hobo sign indicating that people in the area view hobos as thieves.

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Hobos are thieves (alternative)

A French hobo sign indicating that people in the area view hobos as thieves.

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Homeowner has a gun

A triangle with hands signifies that the homeowner has a gun and he was going to use it.

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Hospitable house

A French hobo sign indicating a hospitable house.

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Hostile police

beware of hostile railroad police

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Judge

In the United States system of hobo signs, this symbol indicates that a judge lives here.

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Kind woman

A British hobo sign that indicates where a kind woman lives.

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Kind-hearted women

French- this house is inhabited by kind-hearted women.

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Knock here

A sign in both the British and United States hobo systems.

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Legal building

A United States hobo sign indicating a police station or law court.

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Lustful man

French hobo sign- the man of the house is horny.

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Lusty woman

French hobo sign- the mistress of the house is horny and shameless.

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Medical care

A sign from the United States hobo system indicating that care will be given to the sick at this location.

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Money and food

A French hobo sign showing that you can get money and food here.

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Move quickly

A French hobo sign that indicates the area is not safe- move through it as fast as possible and be very careful.

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Nice people

A French hobo sign indicating that nice people live here.

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Not safe

In the United States system of Hobo signs, these three lines indicate that an area is not safe.

For the French meaning of this same sign, see 'We have already been here'.

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Pointless

In the French system of hobo signs, this symbol indicated that it was no use trying to get inside the present location.

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Poisonous water

A hobo sign indicating contaminated water.

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Policeman lives here

A symbol indicating danger. Hobos in the United States, as well as Sweden and Great Britain, place this mark outside the home of a police officer (or as an indicator that the residents have a tendency to call the police), telling other hobos to stay away.

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Prison

A hobo sign that either indicates a prison or is a warning to avoid this area- there is a risk of being arrested.

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Prison (alternative)

A hobo sign that either indicates a prison or is a warning to avoid this area- there is a risk of being arrested.

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Revenge

A French hobo sign indicating that revenge must be taken.

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Rough place

A sign from the US system of hobo signs with the meaning "here they'll rough you up".

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Scared people

French hobo sign- stay away from here, the people scare easily and will contact the authorities.

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Scared people

A sign from the French hobo system indicating that the people at this location are easily frightened.

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Scared people (alternative)

Hobo sign with a dual meaning:

British- people here are unsympathetic

Swedish- be careful or they'll call the police

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Sleep for the night

French hobo sign- where this appears it means that you can sleep for the night at that location.

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Stone (alchemy) and working people

This symbol denotes two specific things in two different fields.

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Thieves

An indication that thieves are in the area.

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Tramps on the road

An English hobo sign that indicates there are more tramps on the current road.

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Vicious dog

This sign from the French hobo system means "here they have a vicious dog".

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Vigilant police

A sign from the French hobo system that warns of alert police officers and to be careful.

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Warning

A hobo sign with distinctive meanings in three countries:

Sweden- unfriendly people live here

USA- get out of here

France- this place is dangerous

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Watch out

Although this sign has astrological as well as meteorological significance, in the United States system of hobo signs, it means that authorities are on the watch and to be careful.

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Watch out for dogs

A French hobo sign that warns of dogs in the yard.

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Watchful neighbors

A French hobo sign indicating watchful neighbors.

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We have already been here

In the French system of Hobo signs, these three lines indicate that this areas has already been visited.

For the American meaning of this same symbol, see 'Not safe'.

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Work

French hobo sign- where this appears it means that one can get a couple of days worth of work.

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Work (alternative)

French hobo sign- where this appears it means that one can get a couple of days worth of work.

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Citation

Use the citation below to add this symbols category to your bibliography:

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"Hobo signs Symbols." Symbols.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2014. Web. 22 Dec. 2014. <http://www.symbols.com/category/52>.

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