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Two hobos walking along railroad tracks after being put off a train. One is carrying a bindle.

A bindle is the bag, sack, or carrying device stereotypically used by the American sub-culture of hobos. A bindlestiff was another name for a hobo who carried a bindle. The bindle is colloquially known as the "blanket stick," particularly within the Northeastern hobo community.

In modern popular culture the bindle is portrayed as a stick with cloth or a blanket tied around one end for carrying items, with the entire array being carried over the shoulder, allowing for force to be transferred to the shoulder and so leading to a more long lasting and comfortable grip, especially with larger heavier loads. Particularly in cartoons, the bindles' sacks usually have a polka-dotted or bandanna design. However, in actual use the bindle can take many forms.

One example of the stick-type bindle can be seen in the illustration entitled The Runaway created by Norman Rockwell which appears on the cover of the September 20, 1958, edition of The Saturday Evening Post.[1]

Though bindles are rarely used anymore, they are still widely seen in popular culture as a prevalent anachronism.

The term bindle may descend from the German/Yiddish word Bündel, meaning something wrapped up in a blanket and bound by cord for carrying (cf. originally Middle Dutch "bundle"), or have arisen as a portmanteau of "bind" and "spindle".[2]

More recently, the term has come to be used to define packages of illegal drugs stored by large scale drug dealers.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Norman Rockwell: The Runaway". 1958-09-20. Retrieved 2011-10-24. 
  2. ^ "Definition of BINDLE". 
  3. ^ Wissbaum, Brandon. "Police arrest known drug dealer, seize 800 bindles of heroin".