Middle English beggere, beggare, from beggen to beg + -ere, -are
- 1: one that begs; especially : a person who lives by asking for gifts
- 2: one in indigent circumstances
Begging is to entreat earnestly, implore, or supplicate. It often occurs for the purpose of securing a material benefit, generally for a gift, donation or charitable donation. When done in the context of a public place, it is known as "panhandling", perhaps because the hand and arm are extended like the handle of a cooking implement, and not infrequently, a kitchen implement such as a pot or cup may be used.
Panhandling as such is distinguishable from activities such as solicitation by mendicant orders, buskers who play music, business solicitation particularly for prospective purchasers, and on the street by registered charities such as the Salvation Army.
According to a study in the journal of the Canadian Medical Association, "(70%) stated that they would prefer a minimum-wage job, typically citing a desire for a 'steady income' or 'getting off the street.' However, many felt they could not handle conventional jobs because of mental illness, physical disability or lack of skills."
Panhandlers may be found in public places such as transport routes, parks, and near busy markets. They mostly request necessities such as money, food, and clothing, but may also ask for luxuries such as cigarettes and liquor.