22 December 2017

Professional test. Word check.

If you sit down and start rattling off the different names of professions you can think of, I bet you that you will surprise yourself. In these days of hyper specialization, there are more professions (along with their specializations) than you can shake a stick at. Just think of the generic profession of “doctor”. Now think of how many different kinds of doctors you can think of – surgeons, podiatrist, oculist, optometrist, dentist, psychiatrist, cardiologist, anesthesiologist, immunologist, dermatologist, gynecologist, oncologist, pediatrician, urologist, rheumatologist…. you get the idea right?

Let’s try some unique words for professions today. Admittedly, some of these are uncommon these days.

Avoid writing the answers in the Comments section to give others a chance. However, feel free to write down how many answers you knew (just the number) before you start Googling.

1. Let’s start with the good old days when bows and arrows were the chief mechanism for hunting and defense. What do you call somebody whose job is to make bows? Believe it or not, there is a word for somebody who specializes in making arrows too. Do you know that name?

2. You will probably recognize who a blacksmith is. (worker of iron). Or a goldsmith or silversmith. Now, who is a redsmith? And who is a whitesmith?

3. Who is a catchpole?

4. There are carpenters who specialize in making chests and boxes (as opposed to doors, for example). What do you call them?

5. Who is a wainwright?

6. Long back, before alarm clocks were around, in England, there were professional people who would go around knocking on people’s doors and windows to wake them up on time. What were they called? (Interestingly, there was a time that professionals would dart peas out of a blowpipe to hit the windows of higher floors to wake people up on time!!!)

7. Making wigs is a profession unto itself. What are such wigmakers called?

8. Who is a castermonger?

9. You know all those cadavers that are used – for example – medical purposes? There are professional grave diggers who dig up recently buried coffins to retrieve the cadaver to be used for various purposes. What are they called?

10. And finally, who is a lector?

Posted December 22, 2017 by Rajib Roy in category "Word Play


  1. By Dipanjan De Ray on

    Vegan says: “people who sell meat are gross!”

    Friend replies: “yes, but some who sells vegetables is grocer”

    I’ll show myself out

  2. By Sourin Deb on

    Only 10…….one from me (might be known)…what was Devanand’s profession in the movie Guide after he quit his job of ‘Raju Guide’ (what he did was arranging programs for Waheda who was a dancer)

    1. By Sri Ganesh on

      in the olden days, a sample horseshoe was made by the master and kept as a reference piece for the apprentices, novice to make another. The reference piece was known as Masterpiece as it was made by the master.

  3. By Rajib Roy on

    First for the credits…Padma, Ambarish, Vijaya and Sri Ganesh, looks like you folks knew at least one word more than me! I knew exactly zero of them. I was reading up about words for professions. And I picked from among the large set that I did not know.
    Padma, looks like you had a successful Google search but one was not supposed to post them on the Comments section
    Also, Sumitro and Dipanjan, thanks for the very funny responses

    1. By Padma Parthasarathy on

      Oh sorry! Missed the part about not posting in the comments section. Am travelling and reading this stuff on my small phone screen. Shall be careful next time.

  4. By Rajib Roy on

    Now for the questions asked by Padma – I learnt from the same source where I was reading about the professions that a “chandler” is who makes candles.
    I do not know what a traveling whitesmith is called, though.

  5. By Rajib Roy on

    And finally for the answers: Some of these are repeats from Padma’s postings:
    1. A bowyer makes bows and a fletcher makes arrows

    2. A redsmith works with copper and a whitesmith works with tin.

    3. A catchpole is an official who chases down those with delinquent debts (a collection agent, if you will). I have to do the research some time – I suspect the “pole” has roots in somebody owing money and being on the run or something

    4. An arkwright is somebody who specializes in making boxes, chests, coffins etc

    5. A wainwright is somebody similarly who specializes in making wagons. It appears that “wright” is a root to mean some kind of profession like “smith” is.

    6. Knocker-Up – that is somewhat unimaginatively named for people who knock on your doors to wake you up. Also, I am happy we do not have them anymore given the modern alternate meaning of that phrase 🙂

    7. A peruker is somebody who makes wigs. An alternate word is chiffonier. (Padma found an alternate spelling – peruquier. I assume, by the use of “q” that it is the older and original spelling)

    8. I have never read the novel that has been mentioned in the Comments section but costermonger is indeed somebody who sells fruits.

    9. A resurrectionist – again rather literally named profession – who digs up freshly buried caskets to retrieve the cadavers.

    10. Finally “lector” – the modern use for a lector is somebody who gives a speech or lecture in a church or university. However, that is not a profession. The original profession of a lector goes back to the advent of industrial age. To keep the factory workers who were toiling endless hours in repetitive tasks entertained, a “lector” would be hired to tell them stories – often humorous ones.

    Not sure about you, but I learnt quite a few new words…

  6. By Padma Parthasarathy on

    Here’s another set of interesting professions:
    1. Milliner
    2. Coxswain
    3. Chiffonier (this sounds so much nicer than the work involved)
    4. Almoner
    5. Gaunter
    6. Amanuensis
    7. Ostler
    8. Haberdasher
    9. Mangler
    10. Victualer


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