In the book How the Brahmins Won there is chapter how this word is actually referring in suttas in whole list of all those that are considered actually in sramanas tradition. So Buddha for example always talked about that there good Jains in a city and thinking something like that one should not try to do something that expose yourself infront them. So sramanas movement was more respected.
Let me quote the chapter. I don’t know if I would do it correctly still learning
Santi, bhikkhave, eke samaṇabrāhmaṇā evaṃ-vādino evaṃ-diṭṭhino: yaṃ kiñcāyaṃ purisapuggalo paṭisaṃvedeti, sukhaṃ vā dukkhaṃ vā adukkhamasukhaṃ vā, sab- ban taṃ pubbekatahetu; iti purāṇānaṃ kammānaṃ tapasā vyantībhāvā, navānaṃ kammānaṃ akaraṇā āyatiṃ anavassavo, āyatiṃ anavassavā kammakkhayo, kammakkhayā dukkhakkhayo, dukkhakkhayā vedanākkhayo, vedanākkhayā sabbaṃ dukkhaṃ nijjiṇṇaṃ bhavissatī’ti. Evaṃvādino, bhikkhave, Nigaṇṭhā.
Bhikkhus, there are some Śramaṇas and Brahmins (samaṇabrāhmaṇā) who hold such a doctrine and view as this: “Whatever this person feels, whether plea- sure or pain or neither-pain-nor-pleasure, all that is caused by what was done in the past. So by annihilating with asceticism past actions and by doing no fresh actions, there will be no consequence in the future. With no consequence in the future, there is the destruction of action. With the destruction of action, there is the destruction of suffering. With the destruction of suffering, there is the destruction of feeling. With the destruction of feeling, all suffering will be exhausted.” So speak the Nigaṇṭhas, bhikkhus.
The ‘Śramaṇas and Brahmins’ referred to in this passage are, as is clear from the pas- sage itself, Jainas.
Another interesting passage is the question addressed by the wanderer (paribbājaka) Subhadda to the dying Buddha, which has the following shape
ye ’me bho Gotama samaṇabrāhmaṇā saṃghino gaṇino gaṇācariyā ñātā yas- assino titthakarā sādhusammatā ca bahujanassa, seyyathīdaṃ Pūraṇo Kassapo, Makkhali Gosālo, Ajita-Kesakambalī, Pakudho Kaccāyano, Sañjayo Belaṭṭha-putto, Nigaṇṭho Nāthaputto, sabbe te sakāya paṭiññāya abbhaññaṃsu, sabbe ‘va na abbhaññaṃsu, ekacce abbhaññaṃsu ekacce na abbhaññaṃsūti?
Venerable Gotama, all those Śramaṇas and Brahmins (samaṇabrāhmaṇā) who have orders and followings, who are teachers, well-known and famous as found- ers of schools, and popularly regarded as saints, like Pūraṇa Kassapa, Makkhali Gosāla, Ajita Kesakambalī, Pakudha Kaccāyana, Sañjaya Belaṭṭhaputta and the Nigaṇṭha Nāthaputta—have they all realised the truth as they all make out, or have none of them realised it, or have some realised it and some not?
The names enumerated are those of the six heretics frequently mentioned in the Pāli canon, and prominently in the Sāmaññaphala Sutta of the Dīgha Nikāya (DN I p. 47 ff.).7 Sāmañña means Śramaṇaship, so that it is clear that the teachers figuring in it are Śramaṇas. In other words, there are once again no Brahmins among the “Śramaṇas and Brahmins” of this passage. Why then are they called ‘Śramaṇas and Brahmins’? Clearly this expression globally refers to wanderers, without any guarantee that there are Brahmins among them.
This interesting. In sutta like that We should just translate as Sramanas. Or Wanderers. I wonder if in Brahmajala sutta also. I remember it saying Ascetics and Brahmins. I think this translation makes the whole Digha feel as if something against Brahmins. But with correct translation it might not. And Hinduism will appreciate maybe the change. Because if clarify that might mean sramanas movement. Then which one? There was only a few. But using And Brahmins seems to focus on the majority.