• apprentice •
ê-prent-is • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. Someone under legal contract to work for someone else (a master) for a specified period of time in exchange for instruction in the master's trade. 2. A beginner at a trade, a novice, a tyro, a learner.
Notes: Today's Good Word is seldom used in the US because the practice of learning a trade is now done by non-legally binding internships. The use of apprenticeships (the noun) is still alive and well in Europe, though. The only remnant of the concept left in US English is phrases like "master mechanic", "master chef", "master plumber", which have now taken on different meanings.
In Play: As already mentioned, the literal sense of today's Good Word is no longer used in the US: "Marjorie, you're dancing like an apprentice, not the mature professional I know you are." Today's word can be useful around the house, too: "Why should I mow the lawn, Dad? You're the pro; I'm just an apprentice."
Word History: Apprentice reached English via Old French aprentis "someone learning" and, used as an adjective, "unskilled, inexperienced". (The Modern French apprenti resulted from mistaking the older form for a plural.) This noun was derived from the ancestor of Modern French apprendre "to learn; to teach", inherited from Latin apprehendere "to grasp, seize", made up of ad (on)to + prehendere "grasp". This Latin word has several cousins that show up in English, too, including prehensile, comprehend, and reprehend. The root behind prehendere, Proto-Indo-European ghend, had a Fickle N which does not show up in get, the form of ghend which reached English directly and was not borrowed from Latin. (Susanne Russell is no apprentice, but a master of words as her suggestion of today's Good Word shows.)
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