Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2015-05-30
A choir director sends his singers a congratulatory email:
“My goodness, are you troopers or what!?”
The meaning is “a person who deals with and persists through difficulty or hardship without complaint <you’re a real trouper to wait so long>.” In the Merriam-Webster OnLine dictionary, this is the second meaning given for “trouper” with a u, which primarily means “a member of a troupe, especially: actor.” If you look under “trooper,” the third part of the definition is a cross-reference to this second sense of “trouper.”
I don’t have access to any historical usage citations, but the way this is set up in the dictionary suggests that the meaning of “persistent person” originally belonged to “trouper” and later spread to “trooper.” Presumably that would happen because “trooper” is a more common word.
So would this be an eggcorn?
I don’t know if it is an eggcorn or not, but I do know as an Army brat and military wife that it is almost always used in the Army as “trooper”, with the meaning ‘behaving as admirably as a soldier,’ e.g. a “troop.” This is a common thing for soldiers (and other Army employees) to call kids as a form of praise, in particular.
And here’s a slight variation I stumbled upon yesterday:
Back ground in theater, improv troops, formal training is very helpful.
discussion about acting
I predict that a web search would find many examples of “troop” for “troupe”, and somewhat fewer examples of the less-familiar “troupe” for “troop”. The pronunciations are identical, and the meanings are similar enough for eggcornicity.
Troupe and troop are etymologically the same word, though they’ve diverged in application. Jonathan had no access to historical usage stats, but we do. The n-grams are interesting: , . The question becomes, in which milieu were the first “real troopers/troupers”? As usual, the evidence is ambiguous.
Last edited by David Bird (2015-08-21 09:27:36)