Hitchhike [verb] traveling through a process of standing by the side of the road (or near a freeway entrance ramp) soliciting a ride. Yes, that means "a hitchhiker" is "one who hitchhikes."
And of course, with your thumb pointed up, or in the direction you wish to go, especially in Western cultures. There are variations too, like holding your palm facing up in some African countries. Another variety is pointing to the road ahead with your index finger.
Historically, it began, or at least increased exponentially with the advent of the automobile. (It's easy to suppose someone, some time in history, held their thumb up, directed toward a passing horseman, passing lorry or wagon, or other wheeled vehicle.) Hey, it could happen, even if nobody even wrote about it.
Hitchhiking is a world-wide custom. It was brought to the attention of the public through John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. The Great Depression of the 1930's, especially in the United States, saw the dramatic rise of hitchhiking a standard means of transportation.In our fast-paced world of geometrically increasing technology, hitchhiking was not left behind. It is immortalized in pop culture, set in outer space, in 'The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" books, play, and movie.
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