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Originally a seaman who, not prepared to work, preferred to exist by hanging around ports and harbours and existing on the charity of others. It then became more generally accepted to describe any loafer around the waterfront, particularly in the Pacific Islands, who preferred a life of dolce far niente to work of any description. However, the continuing popularity of Confessions of a Beachcomber (1908), E. J. Banfield's description of life on Dunk Island off Australia's Queensland coastline, has latterly given the word a far more respectable meaning.

Subjects: Maritime History.

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