Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I'm looking for a noun that can fit well in a 3-level scale: apprentice, ____, master.

The scale describes the progress of a person from a layman/uninitiated (apprentice), through being accomplished and versed in the secret knowledge he acquired, and finally arriving at the ability to teach and mentor apprentices into the same knowledge (master).

The noun initiate has connotations of being a beginner and thus isn't good for my need.

share|improve this question
add comment

7 Answers 7

Journeyman would feel like the most natural choice to me.

(Addendum: Freemasonry goes with fellow craft between entered apprentice and master mason, but that's a bit wordy for my tastes.)

share|improve this answer
2  
indeed, it is THE choice for the series in the example given. –  horatio Feb 24 '11 at 16:32
5  
Apprentice, journeyman, master being the traditional guild membership progression, yeah. It has behavioral implications that may be unfortunate for a non-professionally-oriented secret society, though (that the journeyman should be journeying, looking for a village that needs a member of his profession, in which to settle down). –  chaos Feb 24 '11 at 17:29
3  
@chaos: I think journeyman has long ago lost its itinerant connotations. –  Marthaª Feb 24 '11 at 18:07
    
@Martha: Hmm. They're attenuated, certainly, but when they're written right into the word, I don't know that they can ever completely go away. –  chaos Feb 24 '11 at 18:18
3  
The journey in journeyman has nothing to do with taking a journey of any sort; it's from French and meant one who was paid by the day. See here... thefreedictionary.com/journeyman –  Brian Hooper Feb 25 '11 at 20:43
show 2 more comments

It sounds like adept may meet your needs. The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn initiatory structure has 10 grades divided into three tiers, and the middle tier is the adept grades (5=6 adeptus minor, 6=5 adeptus major, and 7=4 adeptus exemptus).

Honestly, I would also be perfectly comfortable using initiate for your situation, not really feeling it very strongly has the beginner implications you mention. Adept clearly has a much stronger connotation of competence, though.

If you were to go with this option for your middle grade, I would also suggest thinking about using initiate or neophyte rather than apprentice for your initial grade, to distance a bit further from the traditional guild apprentice-journeyman-master structure. In fact, drawing a bit further from the Golden Dawn, in which the next grade up from the adept tier is 8=3 magister templi ("Master of the Temple"), we could get a super-sexy progression of neophyte-adept-magister.

share|improve this answer
2  
I think chaos nailed it. "Adept" is used in this context fairly commonly. Well as commonly as people are talking about names for levels of secret knowledge, that is. (Heh). It implies, "not a beginner, but not a master either". –  user5442 Feb 25 '11 at 0:10
add comment

Whenever I hear secret knowledge, naturally I immediately think of Freemasonry.

So, I understand there are three degrees of Craft or Blue Lodge Freemasonry (info via Wikipedia):

  • Entered Apprentice – the degree of an Initiate, which makes one a Freemason;
  • Fellow Craft – an intermediate degree, involved with learning;
  • Master Mason

Therefore, fellow seems appropriate here. You may simply go with member.

Another word that may fit is journeyman. Might have problems with gender neutrality on that one, though.

share|improve this answer
    
Fellow Craft makes me go "fellow craft what?" It sounds incomplete, or at least incorrectly conjugated. –  Marthaª Feb 24 '11 at 18:09
    
+1 for Journeyman. In the days of craft apprenticeships, 'journeyman' was the next step in the progression. –  oosterwal Feb 24 '11 at 22:45
add comment

Just for fun, I'll throw in another word, based on the question's tag line more than on the content: Acolyte

share|improve this answer
add comment

How about practitioner? It is “a person actively engaged in an art, discipline, or profession” (New Oxford American Dictionary).

share|improve this answer
add comment

I would not go with Journeyman in spite of its timeless use in guilds as an expert who is not a master. In my opinion its application is more akin to Artisan or Craftsman or someone else who, while still considered an expert, can have varying skill levels from person to person bearing this title. Even a world class glass-blower can be considered a journeyman in my opinion.

Adept, I think, is a generally good middle-grade word since the subject is secret knowledge. I think there are other options available to you, provided you consider bumping apprentice down to something more unskilled (where fun words come in, such as Probationer or Novitiate). However, the context is very limited; secret knowledge can be a little ambiguous.

If the secret knowledge pertains to a skill or technique, I'd go with Practitioner for your middle-grade because of the phrase licensed practitioner which is reminiscent of black-belt level students in a martial arts studio: They are experts that carry some influence over the new Initiates, Novices, Acolytes, or Neophytes while still learning and answering to a Master or Doyen (I really like doyen: a combination of technical expert and leading authority, the perfect hybrid of technical prowess and extensive understanding while still maintaining the Educator status).

For secret knowledge that is intended more for understanding than application, you might [carefully] consider Graduate since this intermediate level of knowledge is mimicked in modern education. Somebody who is not a novice anymore (out of college) may continue their learning and get a Master's degree! (coincidence?)

However, use caution in immediate context because since many people choose not to continue their education, Graduate has acquired a connotation of culmination or conclusion. So when introducing Graduate as a tier, be sure there is clear reference to a master figure. Scholar also accomplishes this, while a little weaker in my opinion.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Expert is commonly used as a skill level between apprentice and master.

Also, disciple or mentor.

share|improve this answer
3  
I'd consider expert to be a synonym of master, and mentor implies teaching - not necessarily a feature of someone who has not yet attained mastery. Disciple might work, except it has religious connotations that could be confusing. –  Marthaª Feb 25 '11 at 2:01
    
I've not heard of the religious attachment to disciple...I figured it wasn't anymore religious than follower so I think both of those would have to fall to the bottom with trainee or pupil –  Rant Nov 26 '11 at 20:55
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.