What’s in a name?

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Updated May 4, 2012

My son asked me what a trucker was. I told him a trucker is a person who drives a truck, just like a fireman is a person that puts out fires, a policeman is a person who polices, a coach is someone who coaches and a grocer is someone who grocers our groceries.

My son then asked me why a pharmacist isn’t called a druggist. I told him that maybe that name might be misunderstood and that it had taken on a life of its own in today’s society as someone who might be on drugs. Then my son asked me if we call gypsies what we call them because they gyp people out of their money. I told him I’d never met a gypsy in person, so what I knew about them was only what I’d seen on TV and in the movies, and a lot of those characters didn’t always try to gyp people.

At this point, my son was a little confused and wondered why society just didn’t go ahead and make it easy and name everyone’s profession after what the job actually involves. I wasn’t sure if being a gypsy really was a job, but I knew what he was getting at. I said, “Well, I’m a writer and I write for a living, so I can see your point.” He said, “If that what you call that stuff you do – writing?” Ouch.