jour·​ney·​man | \ ˈjər-nē-mən How to pronounce journeyman (audio) \

Definition of journeyman

1 : a worker who has learned a trade and works for another person usually by the day — compare apprentice entry 1 sense 1b, master entry 1 sense 1c
2 : an experienced reliable worker, athlete, or performer especially as distinguished from one who is brilliant or colorful a good journeyman trumpeterNew Yorker a journeyman outfielder

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The journey in journeyman refers to a sense of the familiar word not often used anymore: "a day's labor." This sense of journey was first used in the 14th century. When journeyman appeared the following century, it originally referred to a person who, having learned a handicraft or trade through an apprenticeship, worked for daily wages. In the 16th century, journeyman picked up a figurative (and mainly deprecatory) sense; namely, "one who drudges for another." These days, however, journeyman has little to do with drudgery, and lots to do with knowing a trade inside out.

Examples of journeyman in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Prior to his long tenure at Northwestern, Hankwitz was a journeyman defensive coordinator. Nathan Baird, cleveland, 21 Sep. 2022 Abraham Almonte, a journeyman who had not started a game in center field in the majors since 2019, went to center field in the top of the eighth inning. Peter Abraham,, 15 Sep. 2022 Brendel, 6-foot-4 and 299 pounds, doesn’t overwhelm defensive linemen with size or power, which helps explain his journeyman resume. Eric Branch, San Francisco Chronicle, 4 Sep. 2022 Saturday, Emily Ellingwood graduated from the ranks of apprentice jockey and now is a journeyman rider, losing her five-pound weight allowance. San Diego Union-Tribune, 28 Aug. 2022 But his journeyman story speaks to the entirety of BYU’s defensive line this season. Kevin Reynolds, The Salt Lake Tribune, 10 Aug. 2022 Cassius Marsh is known as a journeyman NFL athlete, playing for seven teams across eight seasons in the league. Rachel King, Fortune, 19 June 2022 The Reds have two left-handed relievers in the bullpen –– a rookie who had never been a relief pitcher in professional baseball before this month and a 14-year journeyman. Charlie Goldsmith, The Enquirer, 19 June 2022 More than anyone else in the newsroom that day, city editor Barry Sussman … journeyman from Brooklyn by way of Tennessee, recognized the Watergate burglary immediately as an event of potentially great significance. Joshua Benton, The Atlantic, 9 June 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'journeyman.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of journeyman

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for journeyman

Middle English, from journey journey, a day's labor + man

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The first known use of journeyman was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

24 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Journeyman.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for journeyman


jour·​ney·​man | \ ˈjər-nē-mən How to pronounce journeyman (audio) \
plural journeymen\ -​mən \

Kids Definition of journeyman

: a worker who has learned a trade and usually works for another person by the day


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