When someone is a good sport about something and doesn’t complain, they’re normally called a good ‘trooper’. When speaking, this homonym error doesn’t impact meaning, but when writing it certainly can. Read on to learn what the proper usage is.
Trooper vs. Trouper
Most people know that a ‘trooper’ is someone who is in the military or police force; In the United States, state police officials (as opposed to local police) are known as ‘troopers’. In some ways, this explains the confusion – it does seem like someone would be a ‘trooper’ when accepting a difficult situation graciously and without complaint. However, the correct term is ‘trouper’. A ‘trouper’ is someone – usually an actor, musician, and the like – that is part of a group. Therefore, saying someone is a ‘trouper’ is not about following the rigid rules of military life, but rather maintaining an attitude that ‘the show must go on’ despite difficulties.
The similarities between ‘trooper’ and ‘trouper’ are because of their etymology: they both stem from the Old French trope/Middle French troupe which meant a group of people or company. However, ‘trooper’ is for a member of the police/military and ‘trouper’ is for an actor/musician. And if you want to use the phrase that someone is a ‘trouper’, it’s always referencing the ‘actor’ form of the word. Good luck! 😀