Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Tue Apr 20 16:19:25 UTC 2010

While following up on Joel Berson's post on "trip" (yes, there is
something to follow up on), I was puzzled that the the meaning of "trip"
3. was restricted to /short/ journeys. Certainly when someone say
/today/ that (s)he's going on a trip, there is no reason to believe that
this trip will be short. In fact, it probably requires a qualifier to
communicate that particular aspect. So, I thought, what's the
prototypical use of "trip" today? It's not a trip to the country, it
might be a trip to visit someone--but that almost sounds old-fashioned
or quaint. There are just so many options to describe the destination
more precisely, e.g., "I'm going on vacation to...". But there is one
use that, to me, is ubiquitous--business trip. And it no longer means a
day-trip to the other part of town--business trip is serious business
that often requires substantial travel. So, does the OED have "business
trip" under /any/ heading? The answer is "no". But more on "trips" later.

That got me looking through "business". And was struck by the sense that
one of the contemporary, normal uses of "business" is simply not
there--just like a general, not short, trip is not there. The span of
occupations that includes some clerical jobs, low to middle management,
investment banking and venture capital, etc., are generically referred
to as "business" and the people that are occupied in these positions
(although these tend to be a bit higher in the food chain, owners and
executives) are businessmen, businesswomen, business persons and
business people (spelling varies on all four). Of these latter four,
there is a separate draft entry for "business person" and a mention of
"business man" == "man of business" under compounds. But the current
common spelling, it seems is as one word, not two, and I've never seen
the hyphenated version that seems to be transitional in similar
situations. So the draft PC entry "business person" paradoxically stands
alone in this line of business.

OK, what about the more academic approach? A common US college
major--or, for that mater, a professional program--is "business
administration", as in "Master of Business Administration", or, MBA. Is
that in the OED? Well, no. An alternative degree moniker is "business
and management"--there is a combination "business management", but
that's almost beside the point (although this did make me wonder if
"businessman" was really short for "business manager" rather than "man
of business"). Both sets of degree programs are commonly referred to as
"business", as in "I'm majoring in business". OED? Silent.

A quick look in OneLook (without even browsing the links from individual
dictionaries) gives a number of meanings that are /not/ in the OED, but
the three I am generally concerned with above are:

> business concerns collectively ("Government and business could not agree")


> a commercial or industrial enterprise and the people who constitute it
> ("He bought his brother's business")


> the activity of providing goods and services involving financial and
> commercial and industrial aspects ("Computers are now widely used in
> business")

There is also this:
> customers collectively

In fact, none of the three examples listed would fit under any existing
OED sub-entries.And it is generally these that are involved in "business
trip", although there is also some overlap with "away on business" (this
sense is covered in the OED article, but not the specific expression,
which is fine with me).

But my overall impression is that the entries for both "trip" and
"business" are--how shall I put it?--archaic. They seem to be more of
anthropological interest--which goes well with the historical nature of
the enterprise--than of use to someone who wants to understand the
modern sense of the word as he learns it for the first time. I don't
expect exhaustive coverage, but for a meaning that's been around for a
hundred years to be missing completely? That's a different story...

Am I being overly critical?


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