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SDF

What is SDF?

SDF is an acronym for sans domicile fixe, French for “with no permanent residence”. The term SDF is typically used in French media to identify a transient or homeless person.


Key Takeaways

  • SDF was first used in the 19th century

  • SDF can encompass a variety of homeless experiences

  • SDF is used to replace outdated terms with a negative slant

Understanding SDF

SDF is a French acronym for sans domicile fixe, or with no permanent residence. SDF is one of the most widely used terms in French media when referring to the persons and problems associated with homelessness. SDF has also been used by the French police and welfare boards since the nineteenth century.


The purpose of the SDF acronym is to replace and consolidate other terms surrounding homelessness. Out-of-date terms like trimardeur (vagrant) or clochard (tramp) are dismissed in favor of SDF, while the acronym can also encompass communities like nomades, the voluntarily transient.


While many French terms regarding homelessness have very specific meanings in regard to the type of homelessness, SDF is used as a catch-all. SDF may refer to people who are homeless due to poverty, social exclusion, or natural disaster.


SDF’s versatility is also useful for the way it can describe people who are experiencing different kinds of homelessness. A drifter who travels from one town to the next completing odd jobs and staying in short-term housing would be SDF, while a family living in their car would as well, and so would a person panhandling and sleeping at the bus station.


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