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Posted by TheFallen on November 24, 2002

In Reply to: Urgent question posted by Claudia Duarte on November 24, 2002

: I am a translator and I would like to know what is a "journeyman coach" in professional football. I found two entries in the dictionaries. One says he would be working for someone else and the second says that he would not be a very good coach. The sentence in the book is: "He was the late Pete McCulley, a journeyman coach in professional football."

: My question is urgent because I have to hand in my translation tomorrow.

: Thank you

: Claudia

These days, to describe someone as a journeyman tends to mean that they are someone who is good enough to do a temporary job when there's an urgent vacancy, but doesn't have sufficient qualifications or skills to be hired permanently - so he is continually moving from one post to another. It's not exactly pejorative, but it's not a compliment either.

The reason for your confusion probably comes from the original meaning of journeyman, where it meant someone who'd gone through an apprenticeship and was qualified to do a day's work. This from the American Heritage Dictionary:

NOUN: 1. One who has fully served an apprenticeship in a trade or craft and is a qualified worker in another's employ. 2. An experienced and competent but undistinguished worker.
ETYMOLOGY: Middle English journeiman : journei, a day's work.

Meaning 2 is the prevalent one these days, and you can see how the "temporariness" implied in the term came about.