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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. A "bindlestiff", according to James Blish in his novel, A Life for the Stars, was about a hobo who stole another hobo's "bindle," hence the colloquium "stiff" as in steal.
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. This transferred force to the shoulder, which allowed a longer-lasting and comfortable grip, especially with larger heavier loads. Particularly in cartoons, the bindles' sacks usually have a polka-dot or bandanna design. However, in actual use the bindle can take many forms.
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 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".
More recently, the term has come to be used to define packages of illegal drugs, particularly heroin, in which it typically refers to ten single 'bags' bound together with a rubber band, although this is more commonly called a bundle.
- "Norman Rockwell: The Runaway". Artchive.com. 1958-09-20. Retrieved 2011-10-24.
- "Definition of BINDLE".
- Wissbaum, Brandon. "Police arrest known drug dealer, seize 800 bindles of heroin".