Doyen or doyenne vs docent

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Doyen or doyenne and docent are words that many people find confusing. We will examine the definitions of the words doyen or doyenne and docent, where these terms came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

A doyen is a person who is the most knowledgeable or most senior member of a group. A doyen is an extremely prominent person in his field, and therefore, carries great authority and commands respect. Doyen refers to a male, doyenne refers to a female. The word doyen is derived from the Old French word deien, meaning the leader of ten. The plural forms are doyens and doyennes.

In British English, docent refers to a sort of assistant professor or lecturer. In American English, docent is a title given to volunteers who act as tour guides and sources of information in museums, zoos or historical sites. The word docent is derived from the Latin word docere, which means to teach. The plural form is docents.


Author of The Right Stuff and eccentric doyen of ‘new journalism’ (The Irish Times)

The doyen of one of China’s most aristocratic cuisines has made it his mission to spread imperial Tan fare to gourmands. (The South China Morning Post)

It’s not all that far off from societies that we know, and it rings especially true to the silver-haired doyenne of the local punk scene, Boadicea (Nicole Kidman). (The Columbus Dispatch)

If you enjoy sharing knowledge of natural and cultural history with other people, consider training to become a docent at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch. (The East Bay Times)

“Being a docent combines your love of art and history with giving your passion to someone else and giving them something to enjoy that they not have been aware of before,” Kottler said. (The St. Louis Jewish Light)