Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Slang An adverse reaction to a hallucinogenic drug.
  • n. Slang One that depresses, frustrates, or disappoints: Getting stranded at the airport was a real bummer.
  • n. A loafer or idler.
  • n. A beggar.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. comparative form of bum: more bum
  • n. A forager.
  • n. An idle, worthless fellow, without any visible means of support; a dissipated sponger.
  • n. A disappointment, a pity, a shame.
  • interj. Exclamation of annoyance or frustration at a bummer (disappointment).
  • n. homosexual male

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An idle, worthless fellow, who is without any visible means of support; a loafer; a dissipated sponger; one who bums.
  • n. an unpleasant event, experience, or situation.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An idle, worthless fellow, especially one who sponges on others for a living; a dissolute fellow; a loafer; a tramp; in United States political slang, a low politician; a heeler; a “boy.”
  • n. During the civil war in the United States, a camp-follower or a plundering straggler.
  • n. A small truck with two low wheels and a long pole, used in skidding logs. Also called a drag-cart.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an experience that is irritating or frustrating or disappointing
  • n. a bad reaction to a hallucinogenic drug

Etymologies

From bum1, adj.. Sense 3, probably from German Bummler, loafer, from bummeln, to loaf.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From German Bummler ("loafer"), from bummeln ("loaf"). (Wiktionary)
From bum + -er ("comparative forming"). (Wiktionary)
From bum + -er ("agency forming"). (Wiktionary)
From bum ("buttocks") + -er ("agency forming"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Lee said the theater will lose on the deal if it gets what he calls bummer movies.

    Berks county news

  • It was devoid of punditry, the real bummer is listening to commentary while an historic event is proceeding before our eyes.

    Matthew Yglesias » Disrespect

  • The only bummer is that my favorite song of theirs -

    EGC Clambake for February 1, 2007

  • Bum, coming by way of an earlier bummer from the German bummler, becomes noun, adjective, verb and adverb.

    Chapter 1. Introductory. 5. The General Character of American English

  • An absolute 'bummer' - but the reality that I've had to face.

    Facing Facts

  • But with Sandy Graff it was different; he belonged identically to the place, and all the town knew him, the sinister tragedy of his history, and all the why and wherefore that led to his becoming the poor miserable drunken outcast -- the town "bummer" -- that he was.

    Shapes that Haunt the Dusk

  • The thing that dismayed me was, the rest of the players, the ones getting drunk, were mostly lawyers and other A-types whose natural inclination is to design rules for everyone, so the bummer was the person least likely to insist on rules was the one demanding them.

    "Woke up from dream I was starring in reality TV game show with ambiguous rules that I could not figure out."

  • This is what we used to call a bummer, back in the Early Days The old man in the truck stared down at me in slow alarm.

    A Daemon at Oxford

  • Regardless of cost, the bummer is the realization that this is a vehicle that was designed to fit the congested, exurban, 90 percent of drivers travel less than 50 miles per day world that we live in today, rather than the "go west young man" America that built it.

    FOXNews.com

  • Even more of a bummer is the fact that the Behold is hardwired to go through some sort of proxy or gateway for web page access, which causes occasional glitches loading full HTML sites and makes bookmarking odd because the actual URL is sometimes prefaced with that gateway / proxy IP address.

    MobileTechReview

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  • Mr. Jukes, who had been scanning the shore through a pair of glasses, informed the chief engineer afterwards that "our late second mate hasn't been long in finding a friend. A chap looking uncommonly like a bummer. I saw them walk away together from the quay."

    - Conrad, Typhoon

    March 27, 2008

  • "When sound and fury is substituted for useful endeavour, it becomes known as bumming, so that the big-high-heid-yin in, say, a factory, or a company spokesman, might be dismissively referred to as 'the heid bummer'. Ther term is also used of those who make speeches at functions, which others have laboured long and hard to organise, while the orator gets the accolades. It became synonymous with pomposity and bombast. Someone praising his own product, venture, talents or achievements was said to be 'bummin his load' or 'bummin it up', a process we might style today as hyping. Anyway, one given to such behaviour might simply be regarded as a bummer, bummler or bum, 'better at the promise than the performance'."
    - 'Speaking Scots', John MacLeay in The Scots Magazine, Sep 2001.

    February 1, 2008

  • "We visited many fishing villages clinging like treacle to the wave-battered cliffs of the Avalon Peninsula and examined a multitude of vessels ranging from small and ancient 'bully boats' to a venerable two-hundred-ton, three-masted schooner. Most were no longer seaworthy, but eventually we found a small schooner of a kind known as a Southern Shore bummer hauled out at the little outport of Admiral's Cove, not far from Fermeuse."
    --Farley Mowat, Bay of Spirits, NY: Carroll and Graf, 2006.

    December 19, 2007