Bum-rush vs bum’s rush

Photo of author


To bum-rush something is to strike, take, or push one’s way in with great force. It originated in America from the phrase bum’s rush.

The bum’s rush is to be kicked out of an event or place of business. It can also mean to dismiss or disregard someone for lack of performance or poor ideas. It is commonly used with the verbs to get or to give the bum’s rush.

All of these terms stem from the word bum as in someone who is homeless or without a job. The idiom is a singular bum that would get rushed out of a higher class place of business. So to get the bum’s rush is to be treated like you were lesser, either in appearances or intellect. However, the verb turns the phrase on its head and says that the bum knowingly rushes into somewhere he or she will be unwelcome.

It is likely that the hyphen will fade over time, but as for now, one should always use it in the verb construction.


Strongly opposing marijuana legislation are activists Alan Gordon and Anne Armstrong, who made headlines by bum-rushing a press conference supporting a new state legalization bill in Rhode Island. [Seattle News Weekly]

Traylor didn’t swing back, much to the relief of Self — who praised his big man for keeping a cool head while getting bum-rushed by a wave of purple — and Kansas, Kansas State and Big 12 administrators. [FOX Sports]

Kansas City Public Library director R. Crosby Kemper III took to social media Wednesday to complain that he and other library supporters got the bum’s rush out of the Missouri governor’s office. [The Kansas City Star]