Which Word Wednesday: Trooper vs. Trouper

By August 28, 2013 language One Comment

These are troopers (double Os).

Over the past few years, my sweet maternal grandmother has endured several strokes and other health ailments. Each time, she has bounced back. She had another episode earlier this month, and once again, she rallied. I wanted to say she was a fighter, a tough cookie, a spunky gal. The word trooper came to mind . . . or was it trouper?

A perfect fit for Which Word Wednesday. Let’s look first to the New Oxford American Dictionary:

trooper :: noun
a state police officer; a private soldier in a cavalry, armored or airborne unit.

trouper :: noun
an actor or other entertainer; a reliable and uncomplaining person.

These are troupers.

These are troupers.

It’s fairly obvious, really—I wanted trouper with a U, because I certainly wasn’t describing my grandma as a policewoman!

Here’s the best memory hook I can see:

When soldiers gather they form troops; when performers gather, they form troupes.

And someone who is a “real trouper” is someone who presses on when weary for the sake of the show—I guess in real life, a “real trouper” is someone who presses on when weary for the sake of living? hmm. Makes sense, I guess!

What’s my WWW verdict? Only people in uniform are troopers; troupers can be performers who go on with the show or with daily life. However, troopers can be troupers (if they are weary but keep on with the show), and troupers can be troopers (if they are wearing uniforms). Confused yet?

What’s your verdict? Do you ever describe another person as a “real trouper”? Do you know a trooper who is a real trouper? Do share in the comments.




Check out previous Which Word Wednesday verdicts here.

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