I’m looking for a word in English for men and women that beg money from people in the street. But they are not really poor, they are just pretending, and it’s their job actually.

As far as I know if they are really poor we called them “beggars” or “panhandler“, but what if they are not?

  • 1
    Panhandler is a common term, but neither that nor "beggar" is specific to the needs of the person. Rather, both refer to the activity.
    – Hot Licks
    Jan 24, 2017 at 22:34

3 Answers 3


In idiomatic U.S. English, a common term that may apply to the situation you ask about is freeloader. Here is the entry for freeload as a verb in Merriam-Webster's Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary (2003):

freeload vi (ca. 1934) : to impose upon another's generosity or hospitality without sharing in the cost or responsibility involved : SPONGE — freeloader n

The noun sponge or sponger (used in an allied sense) likewise has no inherent element of poverty. Again from the Eleventh Collegiate:

sponge n ... 3 : one who lives on others : SPONGER [where the verb sponge, to which sponger is attached, means "to get something from or live on another by imposing on hospitality or good nature {sponged off his sister}"]

A person who doesn't suffer any serious privation but subsists by asking others (whether friends, relatives, or strangers) for money, food, lodging, etc., may well be called a freeloader or sponger.

  • Thank you Sven, it's near but my mean is they beg just for money in street or subway and they are very rich, by the way, 1++
    – Freeman
    Jan 26, 2017 at 7:52

You can use professional beggar, a term of heavy irony.

A beggar is anyone who begs or asks for money from strangers. The term implies poverty — who else would want to beg for money publicly? — but does not define the beggar as poor. The word professional alerts the reader to the irony of begging that involves expertise.

In the play Fiddler on the Roof, a beggar complains about a smaller-than-usual handout from a regular, who then attributes his stinginess to a slow week. The beggar argues, "Because you had a bad week, I should suffer?" And there you have the hallmark of a professional beggar. He may even be in need, but the entitled attitude does not befit a beggar.


Scammer maybe?
1. a confidence game or other fraudulent scheme, especially for making a quick profit; swindle. verb (used with object), scammed, scamming. 2. to cheat or defraud with a scam.

  • Thanks man, but actually Scammer means someone who tries to cheat people, especially by tricking them into paying for non-existent goods or services, so it's not!
    – Freeman
    Jan 24, 2017 at 7:05
  • Well, it may be applied to beggars too, if they are not actual beggars. It also may be impostor a person who pretends to be someone else in order to deceive others, especially for fraudulent gain. Jan 24, 2017 at 7:14
  • 1
    Fraudulent beggar? PS It should be "they're not". Jan 24, 2017 at 8:29
  • @Kate Bunting not fraudulent, fake. P.S.I know. Jan 24, 2017 at 9:07

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