Word of the day: hobophobia

Looking through the list of phobias I linked to in a previous post, I was surprised and amused to see that the fear of tramps or beggars is given as 'hobophobia'.

But I was also sceptical. The word 'phobia' is from Latin via Greek, and most words ending in '-phobia' also have their roots in the classical languages, whereas 'hobo' almost certainly does not - its origins are uncertain but it seems to date from the 19th century. As a result 'hobophobia' seemed to me to be a most unlikely word – after all, we say 'arachnophobia' not 'spider phobia'.

So I decided to Google it. The results suggested that 'hobophobia' is indeed widely accepted as the name for a fear of tramps or beggars (or 'bums' if you prefer).

In my search I also came across a pseudo-scientific site promising to offer a cure to sufferers of hobophobia. I found the whole site amusing but let me quote you just a little:

Your fear of bums or beggars can result in the following symptoms: breathlessness, excessive sweating, nausea, dry mouth, feeling sick, shaking, heart palpitations, inability to speak or think clearly, a fear of dying, becoming mad or losing control, a sensation of detachment from reality or a full blown anxiety attack.

You are not the only one to suffer from hobophobia. Most sufferers are surprised to learn that they are far from alone in this surprisingly common, although often unspoken, phobia.

Hobophobia is an intense fear of something that poses little or no actual danger. While adults with hobophobia realize that these fears are irrational, they often find that facing, or even thinking about facing, the feared situation brings on a panic attack or severe anxiety.


Neil said...

That description reminds me of Matt in the 1990's BBC2 sitcom "Game On" when he goes into a rant about "skunk pussies".

Roy said...

I would have thought that the main symptom of hobophobia would be the thought that your wallet might get nicked.

Anonymous said...

i suffer from hobophobia and it sucks

hi mark said...


Anonymous said...

Try my treatment for hobophobia!
we dont actrually do anything!
you just pay us $2400!!!
Then we will tell you get over being a hobophobic!!!!!!:)

Erik said...

I know this is an old post but I found it when searching randomly for "hobophobia" cause I was curious if it was a real word. And that link you mention, I found that and its variants when looking up other random phobias. They apparently used a template for those pages, so they have hundreds of pages claiming to cure your "whatever"phobia. Wouldn't trust it for a second, hehe.

Anonymous said...

might also refer to fear of travel.