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The word troop comes from the French word troupe, which refers to a group of people, generally actors today. This from the original Latin: from the OED (free online edition):
ORIGIN French troupe, from Latin troppus ‘flock’.

In addition, it later acquired the meaning "to move", as in "the marching band trooped along in the heat..."

I personally do not remember the word used for a single military individual until THIS war, but there are quite a few who recall it during Vietnam. I have yet to research that usage in the media. I know it has irritated me only lately.

It would appear the word trooper derived from the above, to mean a member of a troop, especially a cavalry soldier. It is probable that in military usage, trooper was again shortened to be "troop" and thus we have the word being simultaneously singular and plural!

Judy July 13, 2008, 2:32pm

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From the 1930 Webster's Collegiate Dictionary:

troop (troop), n [F. Troupe.] 1. A collection of people or, formerly, also, of things; a company; number. 2. Soldiers collectively; an armed force; - generally used in pl. 3. Mil. A division of a cavalry squadrom commanded by a captain and corresponding to the company in infantry; formerly, also, a battery. in the United States army, four troops of 107 (formerly 65-100) men each constitute a squadron. Syn. see company.

Trooper n. 1. A cavalryman or his hourse. 2. A troopership 3. A mounted policeman. Australia

troopership. n. A military transport.

1943 Webster's Dictionary

troop n. an assembly of people; a herd or flock; a unit of cavalry, generally about 60; a company of Boy Scouts; pl. a large body of soldiers; an army; vi.i to march in a body; collect in crowds; v.t. to form into a troop or troops; unite with a troop.

Judy July 13, 2008, 2:18pm

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