Word Confusion: Troop versus Troupe

Posted June 11, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Revised as of 12 October 2017

This was one of my word confusions. I was writing up a review and wanted to use troupe, but then I got to thinking (always dangerous!) and decided to make sure I was using the right word.

No. Not unless it was a battalion of entertainers. Oops. Good thing I checked.

It’s always possible that some troupes need troops to defend them from the audience, but I’ll hope that’s a rare occurrence.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end. Consider sharing this Word Confusion with friends by tweeting it.

Troop Troupe
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Merriam-Webster: troupe

Mounted troop parading down Queen Street

“Mounted Infantry of the Expeditionary Force in Queen Street, Brisbane” by John Vandenberg is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

A mounted troop of the Expeditionary Force in Queen Street, Brisbane, 1914.

Opera Australia's Pirates of Penzance

“Opera Australia and the Pirates of Penzance” by Adcro at English Wikipedia is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

A still of the theater troupe performing Pirates of Penzance.

Part of Grammar:
Verb, intransitive

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: troops
Past tense or past participle: trooped
Gerund or Present participle: trooping

Noun 1
Plural: troupes
Verb, intransitive 2

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: troupes
Past tense or past participle: trouped
Gerund or Present participle: trouping

A group of soldiers, especially a cavalry unit commanded by a captain, or an airborne unit

  • [Troops] Soldiers or armed forces
  • A unit of 18 to 24 Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts organized under a troop leader

A group of people or animals of a particular kind

Verb, intransitive:
[Of a group of people] Come or go together or in large numbers

  • [Of a lone person] Walk at a slow or steady pace
A group of dancers, actors, or other entertainers who tour to different venues

Any group of people working together on a shared activity

Verb, intransitive:
To travel in a troupe

To perform as a member of a theatrical troupe

They sent UN peacekeeping troops to keep order.

[As a modifier] We have to organize troop withdrawals over the next few weeks.

My daughter is in a Girl Scout troop.

The dictator gathered up his mercenary troops and attacked the city.

The pope signed an agreement to withdraw his troops.

Tell the admiral the troop ships were driven ashore in the storm.

Some state police forces are referred to as troops.

Verb, intransitive:
The girls trooped in for dinner.

Caroline trooped wearily home from work.

The men trooped wearily down the road.

There’s a troupe of dancers coming in on the next flight.

George! Our theater troupe is going on tour.

Margaret Frazer’s Joliffe the Player series is about a troupe of actors traveling the medieval English countryside.

Verb, intransitive:
We trouped throughout the country.

The group will troupe through Europe in three months.

You’re going trouping again, aren’t you?

History of the Word:
Mid-16th century from the French troupe, a back-formation from troupeau, which is a diminutive of the medieval Latin troppus meaning flock. It’s probably of Germanic origin. 1 First known use: 1776

Early 19th century from the French, literally troop.

2 First known use: 1851

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C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

Pinterest Photo Credits

The Two-Horse Act, 1874, by Gibson & Co., Cincinnati, Ohio, is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.