early 15c. (earlier vacabond, c. 1400), from Old French vagabond, vacabond "wandering, unsteady" (14c.), from Late Latin vagabundus "wandering, strolling about," from Latin vagari "wander" (from vagus "wandering, undecided;" see vague) + gerundive suffix -bundus.
c. 1400, earlier wagabund (in a criminal indictment from 1311); see vagabond (adj.). Despite the earliest use, in Middle English often merely "one who is without a settled home, a vagrant" but not necessarily in a bad sense. Notion of "idle, disreputable person" predominated from 17c.