I thought "troop" was plural

This has confused me for a long time. The definitiion of “troop” is “a group of soldiers”… I don’t know of a typical size, but for the sake of numbers, let’s say that a troop is 100 soldiers. So “100 troops” would be 1,000 soldiers.

So why is it that on the news and stuff, they always refer to soldiers individually as troops? If they say “100 troops” they mean 100 soldiers.

I don’t get it, and it always makes me unsure what they are saying on the news.

It has two meanings (well, more than that, actually, but two in this context). It can mean a specific tactical group of soldiers (technically, a subdivision of a cavalry regiment). Or it can simply mean a number of individual soldiers, without regard to their actual tactical organization. Oddly, it doesn’t appear to be correct to refer to a single soldier as a “troop”.

Bah. Let’s get rid of “troop” as a an official designation of a group all-together; from now on call them gaggles!

Wouldn’t that be ‘trooper’?

“Troop” as referring to a singular soldier is Army jargon (and I think USMC as well).

A troop is a specific formation of soldiers; formerly it was the cavalry detachment equivalent to a company in the infantry or artillery. It’s also a group of at least five Boy Scouts or eight Girl Scouts under the authority of a Scoutmaster or Girl Scout Leader, and is used metaphorically for a large group of people. (Source: Webster’s 3rd New International).

As with all collective nouns, American usage is to consider it as always a singular: “The troop was stationed at Fort Dodge,” while British usage considers it both singular or plural, according to whether the group taken as an entity or as a collection of individuals: “His Majesty’s 43rd Calvary Troop was the first formation in the majestic parade” but “The troop were scattered across the battlefield, with no hope of re-forming into a coherent fighting force.”

Are you sure you don’t mean troupe? That’s plural. Troop, with no ‘u’, means just the one. Therefore, you could have a troupe of soldiers, comprised of 100 troops, with each soldier being one troop.

Well, yes. I was just remarking on the oddity that you can say “troops” for a group, but not “troop” for an individual member of the group.

Although Poly’s dictionary says you can. My dictionary (Webster’s New World, 3rd Collegiate) disagrees, but it seems there are alternate views. shrug

Anyway, that sort of weirdness is what makes English fun. To me, anyway.:slight_smile:

No, no, no, Ferrous. The only way in which “troops” is referring to a group of individual soldiers is by metonymy, where “troops” (=more than one troop of soliders) > “troops” (=the armed forces collectively). An infantry battalion is composed of three companies; a cavalry battalion of three troops. – Which does not mean that there are only three mounted warriors in the division, but three smaller units comprise the one. “The troops are going overseas” is an example of that metonymy – a bunch of servicemen, who may or may not be organized into actual units called troops, are going overseas. (BTW, military buffs: what’s a company-sized armored group called? Sounds like “troop” would be the proper usage, since armor borrowed most of their other terminology from the cavalry.)

IThinkNot: A troop is composed of soldiers; a troupe is composed of actors, dancers, circus performers, or what have you. You call a resilient person a trouper because their behaviour is based on “the show must go on”, more or less.

I hate to sound like a word Nazi, but I’m sure this is wrong. Troupe is singular as in: “I got kicked out of the comedy troupe”. Plural is troupes “How many of the troupes in this town can we get to perform that night for free, or at most a basket of fries and one beer? All of them? Great! Book 'em in.”

Gotcha, Poly. I thought that by this…

…you were saying that “troop” is acceptable for a single soldier in Army jargon.

Hmm…have you read any of the “Jurisdiction” series by Susan R. Matthews? She has her soldiers refer to themselves as “This troop…” She’s a former Army officer.

Also, according to my dictionary, “troop” is indeed the armor equivalent of an infantry company.

[sub]This is certainly my day for linguistics discussions. I’ve also been in one in the Pit and the Cafe.[/sub]

There is no set term for every unit size. For example, company-sized tank units in Britain are squadrons, made up of troops (platoon-sized units). In the US, I believe it’s companies made up of platoons (armour) and squadrons made up of troops (armoured cavalry). I could be wrong on the US terms, mind.

Nice pickup. May I refer you to my comment above:

Okay, I’m confused. I’m really, truly not trying to fight with you Poly. I am not sure what you are trying to say.

I saw your comment above, and acknowledged it, but then you seemed to contradict it. I may have misunderstood.

Is it, or is it not acceptable to use “troop” for a single soldier?

I’m not trying to be argumentative here, or score points. I’m just curious.


From the Associated Press Stylebook:
“A troop is a group of people or animals. Troops refers to several such groups, particularly groups of soldiers. Use troupe only for ensembles of actors, dancers, singers, etc.”

That said, troops, referring to soldiers individually, is pretty common in newspapers, radio and TV, i.e., “5,000 troops headed to Gulf region” meaning 5,000 soldiers.

Although soldiers is more accurate, and troop should be left for a group as the AP suggests to avoid the very confusion that we seem to be talking about here.

Ok so… using “troop” to mean an individual soldier is incorrect, but has passed into common usage in the US military? And they did it just to confuse and infuriate me?

Also, “trooper” refers specifically to paratroops, cavalry (both air and armored) soldiers, and sometimes to soldiers that designate themselves that way, such as ad hoc security units that accompany convoys and such.

Troop {=single soldier} is not good general usage but is military jargon, “in” speech of the sort that would have had me, on this board, ensuring (particularly in a thread that Opal started, that the third definition of “troop” in a numbered list of them make some reference to her, or to ensure that everyone here realizes that the other employees of the company you work for are inclined to ork cows. :slight_smile: