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I recently came across the word 'Conscriptees'(Thanks to Pirates of the Carribbean 4) and looked up the meaning for it and found that it referred to the victim of a 'Conscription' which in turn means compulsory enlistment of people into a national service. But what does the person who does(or maybe orders) the 'Conscription' called? I felt the word 'Conscriptor' would exist for this purpose but a Google search reveals that it refers to a composer, writer or an author ! Then I searched for 'Conscripter' but Google doesn't show any trustworthy results. So does the word 'Conscripter' exist and does it mean the doer of a 'Conscription'? If it does exist and doesn't mean that way or maybe if it doesn't exist at all then what is the best alternative word for it? Thanks in advance!

  • Conscript is an impersonal verb, most common in use in the passive: He was conscripted early in the conflict sounds normal, but not They conscripted him early in the conflict sounds like "They" picked on him particularly. Conscript the noun (stress on first syllable /'kanskrɪp/) is somebody who's been conscripted. The proper subject for conscript the verb is really a deleted Indefinite, the same non-terminal symbol that is the subject of change in It's time to change the oil. – John Lawler Mar 7 '15 at 15:55
  • Unfortunately, it appears that the term conscripter is rarely used (only 318 instances). There are even a few mentions of it being a snake! The authors of course meant Boa constrictor. – Mari-Lou A Mar 19 '15 at 5:33
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Impressor was the word way back when The Royal Navy used the Impress Service to conscript sailors, but this practice died out after the Napoleonic Wars.

[OED] marked Obsolete and rare
Impressor
2. One who impresses or takes by force for the public service.
1781 R. H. LEE in Sparks Corr. Amer. Rev. (1853) III. 409 Let his mill and wagons have protection from the destructive talons of impressors.


If impressor is just too old then what about conscripter?
Not a lot of dictionary activity for that, but that doesn't mean it's 'not a word'.

Here are a few examples of conscripter in print.

For example, citizens who trust the government or a major agent as a protector of legal rights may also trust the government as a fair conscripter for the military.
Trust and Governance by Valerie Braithwaite & Margaret Levi Google Books

Only in Quebec was the navy a major issue, and there the Conservatives and Bourassa's Nationalistes branded it the instrument of Empire and conscripter of young men.
The Sea Is at Our Gates: The History of the Canadian Navy by Tony German (1990) Google Books

She said she had a son that the "conscripters" had tried to get, but that he had got away.
Sketches of War History, 1861-1865: 1896-1903 by The Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States Google Books Snippet

...as overseer for the housing provisions for Arabs, and even in some instances as conscripter of local military troops.
Arabica, Volumes 13-14 by Evariste Lévi-Provençal Google Books Snippet

That conscripter can be found among the books digitised in Google Books proves that it's a 'real word', used to mean one who conscripts others and that one can include governments, agencies or individuals.

Conscripter is a very obvious form for a word meaning one who conscripts others. I had rather hoped to find conscriber which isn't quite as obvious but I found nothing, possibly because conscribe is somewhat obsolete these days, compared to conscript.

And should you want to spell it conscriptor, well, you wouldn't be the first.

Shortly afterward, I served as a reluctant draftee in the U.S. army during the Vietnam years.... My father and his father before him cam from a long line of conscript soldiers, regardless of the conscriptor.
The Illumating Icon by Anthony Ugolnik Google Books

As a side note, I'd say conscriptee is unnecessarily 'piratey' as the noun conscript means the same and is much more common.

  • Great answer. Thanks! Totally agree with 'Conscriptee' being 'Piratey'. BTW, interestingly, Google Ngram viewer won't show a plot for 'Conscripter' but does show one for 'Conscriptor' ..... – VenkiPhy6 Mar 8 '15 at 15:00
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    @VenkiPhy6 That's quite interesting, although a lot of conscriptor references are in Latin and some in French and some are a mis-spelling of Boa Constrictor but for those that are obviously real uses it looks like it's about even on the spelling between conscripter or conscriptor and possibly (maybe) conscriptor is more frequent in recent texts. It's always nice to find an 'undictionaried' word - good question. – Frank Mar 8 '15 at 15:34
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    Well, all thanks to Captain Jack Sparrow :-p :-D BTW google search results for conscripter shows this question as one among the top.... – VenkiPhy6 Mar 8 '15 at 18:03
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When there was conscription in America, every locality had a Draft Board, made up of local citizens, whose job it was to make sure all young men registered for the "draft". These boards were able to hear appeals (e.g. requests for Consciencious Objector status). And I believe they were also responsible for making sure the "draftees" showed up for duty.

Interestingly enough, a "drafter" or a "draftsman" means a writer or one who draws up plans, repectively. So we can't use those terms either.

The draftees were "inducted" into the armed services. Thus they became "inductees". However, an "inductor" is an electromagnetic device. So we can't use that either.

My conclusion is that the old men who make war, and have young men rounded up and sent off to fight and die, would rather remain anonymous—to such an extent that they decline to have even a generic name for their dirty business.

  • Why not use 'Inducter' ? Might be a good alternative to 'Conscripter'? – VenkiPhy6 Mar 8 '15 at 15:03
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A person that has been conscripted is more commonly called a conscript. The entity that conscripts is called a conscripting military.

Because an individual does not do the conscripting, it would be unnatural to call someone a conscriptor. The conscripting person could be called a conscription agent.

Lesson: don't believe everything a pirate says. ;)

  • A conscript officer would be an officer who has been conscripted. If there were officers whose job was to conscript suitable people (like Napoleonic press-gangs) you might call them conscription officers – TimLymington Mar 7 '15 at 14:35
  • Good point. Because this is always in a military context, I think I'll even choose to avoid officer in case it implies too much about the status of the person. – Ian MacDonald Mar 7 '15 at 14:41
  • Conscription agent seems to be a good alternative to 'Conscripter'... but a one word substitute to Conscription agent might be a better alternative? On a side note , Stack Exchange must include 'Conscripter' into their dictionary!!!!!! – VenkiPhy6 Mar 8 '15 at 15:07
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I think recruiter is the term you are looking for:

  • the person in charge to enlist (persons) in military service.

(TFD)

  • If you were old enough to remember the draft, you would know that conscriptees are not "recruited", they are "drafted". In my day, many young men visited a Navy or Air Force recruiter to "voluntarily" enlist, only so that they didn't get drafted into the army. – Brian Hitchcock Mar 7 '15 at 14:19
  • @StoneyB - the compulsory enlistment is stated by the law, not the recruiter. – user66974 Mar 7 '15 at 14:22
  • In the US, at least, conscription is carried out by civilian 'draft boards' under the Selective Service System; recruitment is carried out by the various military services. – StoneyB Mar 7 '15 at 14:32

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