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I'm driving around and I stop to ask someone for directions to my destination, is there an English word for that person?

  • They'd be acting as a guide, though that's too general a word for me to feel completely happy offering it as an answer. – Jon Hanna Feb 20 '13 at 12:21
  • I was thinking of 'guide' as well as 'local' or 'passerby' but the words don't pertain to helping someone out. Guide fit's but yes it's a bit broad. – Joseph Le Brech Feb 20 '13 at 12:34
  • I always say "someone" when I tell my wife that we can stop & she can ask SOMEONE for directions in Chinese or Taiwanese. They're never "guides" & may not be "locals", but they're all "people on the street" or "in a shop". Those random beings that you ask aren't there to help you out, so they don't rate the "Lost-Traveler's Helper-Outer" badge or job title. – user21497 Feb 20 '13 at 13:06
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    The word for such a person is helpful. – tchrist Feb 20 '13 at 16:18
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    @tchrist: that depends on whether the directions are accurate. – Peter Shor Feb 20 '13 at 20:34
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Since the question does not specify that the person actually be helpful, just someone who is stopped to ask a question of, they could be a "bystander":

per Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary:

bystander: a chance spectator

or more specifically to your question, assuming whomever it is you stopped was on foot, they can be a "pedestrian"

or a "pedestrian bystander" :-)

  • this is probably the closest match. but even a bystander that you don't converse with counts as a bystander. – Joseph Le Brech Feb 21 '13 at 10:25
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I don't think there's a specific word for someone who gives directions per se. However, we often use the word stranger when talking about someone we approach but have never met before. (We might be asking for directions, or advice about a good place to eat, or some other request, like "Would you take my picture?")

In other words, I could see myself telling a story, and saying:

We got lost, so we had to ask a stranger for directions.

If the people actually provide good directions, then they could be called helpful strangers. If the people are not familiar enough with the area to help out, but they are still courteous, they could be called polite strangers. If they are simply rude and unaccommodating, there's a word for that, too – but I'd rather not say that vulgar word here.

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They could also be called a guide if they actually led you to your destination, or to some point closer to your destination.

guide - a person who advises or shows the way to others

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