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:

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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"Hobo signs Symbols." Symbols.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2018. Web. 19 Oct. 2018. <https://www.symbols.com/category/52>.

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