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: 浪人 【ろうにん】
Feudal Japan was dominated by political or military struggles between the daimyō, the great lords under which samurai served. When a daimyō was somehow defeated, all the samurai under his command (or at least the ones still alive) then became masterless rōnin. Those masterless samurai usually became mercenaries in order to survive.

In modern Japan the term "rōnin" has been given a new meaning, one with quite a few examples in anime. Once students complete high school, they must then take entrance exams to get into college. The more prestigious the institution, the more difficult the entrance exam. Sometime, students will fail the exams for all colleges they applied to, and have to wait to take it again the next year. In the meantime, they study hard so they will do better, and at the same time they are usually holding down part time jobs in order to survive. These "school-less students" are also called rōnin, and are a subject of many anime, such as Love Hina and Chobits.

Another use of "rōnin" is for a salaryman who has been laid off as the result of company restructuring. The same general idea applies in all cases; the rōnin is someone who has lost the place he is supposed to hold in the social structure.

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