Bindle (from German das Bündel = bundle, bale) is a term used to describe the bag, sack, or carrying device stereotypically used by the (commonly American) sub-culture of hobos. The person carrying a bindle was called a bindlestiff, combining bindle with the Average Joe sense of stiff (from German Steif = stiff, rigid). In popular culture the bindle is portrayed as being a stick with cloth or a blanket tied around one end for the carrying of items, with the entire array being carried over the shoulder. Particularly in cartoons, the bindles' sacks usually have a polka-dotted or bandanna design. However, in actual use the bindle can take many forms, such as a backpack or carrier bag attached to a stick, meaning that bindle is specifically a term to identify bags or carrying devices used by travellers.
An example of the stick-type bindle can be seen in the illustration entitled The Runaway created by Norman Rockwell which appears on the cover of the September 20, 1958 edition of The Saturday Evening Post. http://www.artchive.com/artchive/R/rockwell/rockwell_runaway.jpg.html
Though bindles are rarely seen anymore bindles are still widely seen in popular culture as a prevalent anachronism.
Drug cultureThe word bindle is also a street term that can be used to describe a small paper packet of drugs that varies in weight under one gram.
ForensicsBindle is also a term used in forensics. It is the name for a piece of paper folded to hold trace evidence - not to be confused with a pharmaceutical fold.
Other culturesIn Australian history, a similar item is entitled a swag or swag bag, something usually carried by transients or traveling workmen.
- Steinbeck, John. Of Mice and Men