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As a German I am wondering whether "the art and craft of" (e.g.) teaching, cooking, etc. as in the title of a book I recently came across ("The art and craft of problem solving") is an expression that's commonly used in good (written) English, or whether it seems rather odd.

Anyone who can help me with this? (I need to know for a manuscript I am currently working on.)

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    You can use what you like as a book title, but usually we say "The art of problem solving". There are exeptions, but craft is usually about making things. Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 14:57
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    There are lots of books called "The art and craft of..." As to what the phrase means, I'm not 100% certain - I'd suppose that "art" refers to the artistic/expressive side and "craft" means more practical techniques, but putting both words means you're teaching lots of different aspects. I'd expect to find the phrase more in advertising copy or titles, than in serious factual prose, so it's certainly used in written English but whether it's in good written English is more of a judgment call.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 15:36
  • It seems appropriate to me if some of the content is appropriate for a work titled "The Art of X" and some is appropriate for one called "The Craft of X". As for your manuscript, I would research similar titles of publications in your field. Titles are often chosen to be catchy.
    – DjinTonic
    Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 16:03
  • It's often used in titles, where considered appropriate. Check in a raw Google search. Commented Apr 28, 2023 at 11:02

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It's more often capitalized as well as pluralized, but the idiomatic standard here is...

[the] Arts and Crafts (Cambridge Dictionary)
the skills of making objects, such as decorations, furniture, and pottery (= objects made from clay) by hand

The plural form is generally used of multiple activities, with the implication that any given activity may be more "Art" than "Craft", or vice-versa. When referring to a specific activity, we usually use the term that fits best1 (the art of flower-arranging, the craft of basket-weaving).

Except maybe in book titles, where the publisher wants to imply the book's subject matter embodies all the positive aspects of both terms - The Art and Craft of Writing, for example.


1 That's assuming there meaningfully is a difference between "art" and "craft" when used in this context. Personally, I think it's on a par with aiding and abetting, without let or hindrance - in context, just two words that mean the same thing anyway.

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  • I'd say it's more relevant to compare Google 5-grams of 'the art and craft of' & 'the arts and crafts of Commented Apr 28, 2023 at 10:59
  • @EdwinAshworth: Well, for what it's worth, here's that chart. But I think all it really shows is how often The Art and Craft of [subject of our book] gets used as a book title in recent decades. Which I kinda anticipated when I wrote my final paragraph above, but it only makes sense to do that usage chart with case-sensitive searches. Commented Apr 28, 2023 at 11:06
  • But book titles can be important influences on idiomaticity. The expression 'dummy's guide' has been popularised through the various books so titled. Commented Apr 28, 2023 at 15:18
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Is "the art and craft of ..." a common expression in English?

It is a valid expression and entirely understandable. It is not "common" as the context in which it is used is not a common topic.

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The art of is a common and well-known expression in English, but its cousin the art and craft of is also occasionally used. For instance, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Persig is a well known work of literature from the 1970s, and the second part of that ("The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance") spoofs a whole set of titles, with hundreds of thousands (including, undoubtedly, many false positives) on WorldCat. The general sense is of a "how to" in a specific skill.

The Art of is much more common than the craft of, the art and craft of, or the arts and crafts of, as an Ngram shows.

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Another Ngram without the art of shows the relative popularity of the other expressions. The craft of is more often used than either usage with art/craft:

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The art and craft of is much rarer as an expression but still sees occasional usage. I find it familiar. A WorldCat title search for the expression still turns up about 1,900 results, among them

  • the art and craft of the cold kitchen
  • the art and craft of motion pictures
  • the art and craft of performing in comedies
  • the art and craft of box making
  • the art and craft of a failure detective
  • the art and craft of TV directing
  • the art and craft of political theory
  • the art and craft of lighting
  • the art and craft of motion picture editing
  • the art and craft of stopping severe bleeding

Even if the expression isn't strictly common, it makes sense in these technical contexts.

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