dumpster diver
(DUMP.stur dy.vur) n. A person who sifts through garbage, particularly a dumpster, looking for valuable or useful items.
dumpter dive v.
dumpster diving pp.

Example Citation:
Tonight, however, Seymour's van follows a proven route, and each dumpster diver has a proven style. Larry has a sweet tooth, and is more of a window shopper — peeking through the Dumpster opening, but rarely climbing in. The gangly Ard is less squeamish, though he uses a stepladder to get in.

There's only one "bottom of the Dumpster" diver on this team, only one who takes literally the dumpster diver's credo: "The best stuff is always at the bottom." Yet for all his abandon, Straight Edge Ben — so nicknamed because he doesn't use alcohol, tobacco or drugs — is the choosiest.
—Lorraine Aheard, "Word for food," The News & Record, January 20, 2002

Earliest Citation:
Rat and Mike call rummaging for food in trash bins behind restaurants dumpster diving.
—Photo caption, Life, July 1983

John Hoffman, author of the book The Art and Science of Dumpster Diving wrote to me with a theory about the originator of this phrase:

It is my opinion that a "diver Callaghan" was the originator of the term and he ran a FOOD BANK and was written up in NEWSWEEK or TIME in 1978, 1979, approx, when he got some kind of award from the government.

Related Words: