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

  • adj. Depending on alms for a living; practicing begging.
  • n. A beggar.
  • n. A member of an order of friars forbidden to own property in common, who work or beg for their living.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Depending on alms for a living.
  • adj. Of or pertaining to a beggar.
  • adj. Of or pertaining to a member of a religious order forbidden to own property, and who must beg for a living.
  • n. A pauper who lives by begging.
  • n. A religious friar forbidden to own personal property who begs for a living.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Practicing beggary; begging; living on alms.
  • n. A beggar; esp., one who makes a business of begging; specifically, a begging friar.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Begging; reduced to a condition of beggary
  • Practising beggary; living by alms or doles: as, a mendicant friar. See friar.
  • n. A beggar; one who lives by asking alms; especially, a member of a begging order or fraternity; a begging friar.

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

  • adj. practicing beggary
  • n. a pauper who lives by begging
  • n. a male member of a religious order that originally relied solely on alms


Middle English, from Old French, from Latin mendīcāns, mendīcant-, present participle of mendīcāre, to beg, from mendīcus, needy, beggar, from mendum, physical defect.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin mendīcāns, present participle of mendīcō ("beg"). Compare French mendiant. (Wiktionary)



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  • I know a person who labours, yet is unpaid for it in a formal way. He therefore relies on his mendicant existence for sustenance. He says this lifesyle is positive for the world because when people see him picking up rubbish beside the road - that's what he does - they are moved to be generous. It is 'love' that motivates such generosity. Therefore he sees that the product of his lifestyle is love, not mooching.

    July 6, 2008

  • 1 year later, limberbellona is agreeing with you

    July 6, 2008

  • Nothing against anyone who willingly practices a mendicant lifestyle for spiritual reasons... but the pragmatist in me has to question the logic of it. It appears to me that it's basically turning oneself into a mooch, which seems like an inherently selfish thing to do. Wouldn't it be better, in theory, to live a life of generosity, sharing what one has earned legitimately through hard work, rather than to leech off of other peoples' labor?

    June 18, 2007