jour·​ney·​man | \ ˈjər-nē-mən \

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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Did You Know?

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

That was Cody Parkey, a journeyman who had played for three teams in the four seasons before 2018. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, "Why NFL Teams Leave the Playoffs Kicking and Screaming," 11 Jan. 2019 The journeyman quarterback who went undrafted then bounced around with the Texans and Rams before Minnesota found himself as a desirable commodity on the free-agent market. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, "The Rise of the NFL’s Mediocre Quarterback," 6 Sep. 2018 The Senators waived Emery after the 2007-08 season and the rest of his career proved to be a journeyman's existence that included stops in Russia, Philadelphia, Anaheim, Chicago, Philadelphia again and Germany. Fox News, "Former NHL goalie Ray Emery drowns at age 35," 15 July 2018 Minnesota officials agreed: Cousins would not disrupt the flow of a team that went 13-3 in 2017 (while relying on journeyman quarterback Case Keenum) before falling one victory shy of the Super Bowl. Mike Jones, USA TODAY, "Kirk Cousins finally feeling the love in Minnesota but knows he must take loaded Vikings to next level," 12 June 2018 Wagner began his career at Bayern, making eight appearances for the first team, before embarking on a journeyman career around Germany., "Jupp Heynckes Confirms Bayern Duo Will Not Travel With Squad for Leverkusen Clash," 11 Jan. 2018 The 34-year-old McKenna is a minor-league journeyman who's only played in 22 games in his NHL career. Peter Dawson, star-telegram, "Here's the real reason the Dallas Stars might miss the playoffs | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 22 Mar. 2018 Then the Bills signed Derek Anderson, a 35-year-old journeyman who started Monday night against the Patriots. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, "Playing Quarterback Looks Easier Than Ever. Nathan Peterman Still Makes It Look Hard.," 2 Nov. 2018 DeLunas rode the embers of his pitching dream into a journeyman college career, playing at three different small colleges, but ultimately went undrafted. Alexa Philippou, The Seattle Times, "The most interesting man in baseball? It might be Mariners bullpen coach Brian DeLunas," 28 Aug. 2018

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.

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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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Last Updated

4 Feb 2019

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Time Traveler for journeyman

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

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More Definitions for journeyman



English Language Learners Definition of journeyman

: a worker who learns a skill and then works for another person
: a worker, performer, or athlete who is experienced and good but not excellent


jour·​ney·​man | \ ˈjər-nē-mən \
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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Spanish Central: Translation of journeyman

Nglish: Translation of journeyman for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about journeyman

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to deny responsibility for

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