I’m sure you’ve had the experience of learning a new word then seeing it everywhere. You wonder, “Has this word only now come into my life? Or have I encountered it before but I simply missed it before now?” The word docent is a word that’s recently done that to me. Truth be told, I first noticed it in Spanish last year when I was hanging around at the university. There were lots of docentes there, and I got the general idea that they were teachers, but not quite profesores. I also learned that Graciela is a docente, which makes a nice pun, which she has on a T-shirt: “Pobre pero docente” (“Poor but docent” playing on the common phrase “Poor but decent”).

Just last week at a College of Humanities Fair I met a South African museum curator who offered to have one of his docents give my students a museum tour if my teaching coincided with one of the museum’s exhibits. I told him that I knew what he meant because I knew Spanish, but I’d never heard the word docent before. I was still thinking that docent was a British/South African kind of word when just now on the Hogle Zoo’s website I found a reference to their Docent Program. No doubt I’ll be reading about docents some time soon.

PatrickWords08/29/04 1 comments


Dad • 08/31/04 8:58 PM:

I believe this word was used in Dan Brown’s book, The DaVinci Code. As I remember it, it seemed to mean more like a curator of a museum. But they can be teachers too, no?

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