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Beachcomber is a closed compound word. We will examine the meaning of the word beachcomber, its etymology, and some examples of its use in a sentence or two.

A beachcomber is someone who scavenges a beach, usually one adjacent to an ocean, in order to find things that he can use or sell. For instance, someone who looks for shells along the shore to take home and display is a beachcomber; someone who looks along the shore for amber to sell is also a beachcomber. The word beachcomber is derived from the word beach—meaning land adjacent to an ocean—and comber, meaning someone who searches in fine detail. The word beachcomber was first used in the book, Two Years Before the Mast, written by Richard Henry Dana Jr. in 1840. Originally, beachcomber referred to sailors who had jumped ship and lived as bums along tropical islands. They eked out livings by picking up flotsam and jetsam deposited along the shoreline and selling it. Today, a beachcomber is simply someone who enjoys looking for treasures along a shoreline. The word beachcomb is often used as a verb, though the word is not yet found in the Oxford English Dictionary. Related words are beachcombs, beachcombed, beachcoming.


Professional beachcomber and columnist, Kristin Hissong, was heading back to her car after a long patrol on one of her favorite Hatteras Island beaches for shelling. (Island Free Press)

A beachcomber for many years, Mr Clark said although he had walked along the stretch of rocky coastline from the beach towards the former signal station pilot’s house near the entrance to New River Estuary regularly, he had felt drawn to the spot where he discovered the cranium exposed to the elements — on an eroded bank. (Otago Daily Times)

Folks are invited to bring in their unique, mysterious or everyday beachcombed objects and he will be on hand to identify and educate. (North Coast News)

Want to know more compound-words? Check out some others we covered: