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  • Noun




The increasing homeless problem in the United States has led to more and more mendicants or beggars living their lives on the street. Did you know that the largest homeless shelter that feeds and houses mendicants or street people is located about three blocks from the White House? Mendicants, or those who ask for handouts on a daily basis, often live their entire lives not knowing for sure where their next dollar will come from, although most are well fed by soup kitchens.

Quiz: What is a mendicant?

  • He is a person who begs for money.
  • He is someone who spends his days wandering the streets.
  • She is someone who mends clothing for a living.

Memory Hook

Can't Mend A mendicant can't mend his financial life, and so he has to beg for money.


  • [Moondog] also tells Schwartz that he’s comfortable being thought of as a beggar. The radio broadcaster Walter Winchell “calls me a mendicant, but . . . I don’t feel self-conscious or apologetic about begging for a living. —The New Yorker
  • But even as [Washington's subway system] Metro continues along as a public sector mendicant, begging for alms year after year from state and local authorities, it would stand to benefit enormously from the sort of independent oversight to which federal government agencies are subject in the form of an inspector general. —The Washington Post
  • In 1911, the [Chicago police department] had issued its own edict "prohibiting blind mendicants, legless unfortunates and other seekers of alms from exhibiting their misfortunes to the public view," but after World War I ended in 1918, no new ugly laws were passed. Instead, plans were made to help manage veterans' physical and mental care. —Chicago Tribune
  • Legend has it that one day he went out from the palace and for the first time saw poverty, sickness, and death. Overwhelmed by these realities, he renounced his worldly position and became a wandering mendicant, seeking the meaning of life. After years of fasting, begging, and traveling, he sat down under a _bodhi_ tree and sank into a deep meditation lasting 49 days. At last he achieved enlightenment, and Siddhartha became a buddha. —The New York Times

Word Ingredients

mend fault, defect
-ant being in a state or condition

A mendicant is in “defective” or “wanting” circumstances.

Word Constellation


Word Variants

mendicant adj begging; living on charity