camp follower

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camp follower (plural camp followers)

  1. (chiefly historical) A civilian who follows an army, typically a family member of a soldier or someone who provides services to the soldiers, e.g. prostitution, sale of liquor, cooking and laundry.
    • 1915, Henry Smith Williams, ‎Edward Huntington Williams, Modern Warfare, page 11:
      But besides these incompetents, there was always a train of camp followers, —women who followed the camp, beggars, and criminals, whose number was often greater than the number of fighting soldiers.
    • 1976, Soldiers - Volume 31, page 52:
      There were very few camp followers at the beginning of the American Revolution. But as the war dragged on, the need for families to be together won out.
    • 2002, Gary B. Nash, ‎Ronald Schultz, Retracing the Past, page 138:
      General Washington, in particular, fumed about camp followers, regularly complaining that pregnant women, small children, chickens, dogs, and domestic paraphernalia drastically diminished his army's mobility.
    • 2006, Gregory Fremont-Barnes, The Encyclopedia of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, page 203:
      While prostitutes were camp followers, so were civilian wagon drivers, cooks, supply contractors, laundresses, valets, musicians, and family members of soldiers.
    • 2021, Terry Crowdy, Napoleon's Women Camp Followers, page 3:
      Unlike many other camp followers of that period, these Frenchwomen were regulated and officially recognized, and played a highly appreciated part in the army's daily life.
  2. A person who provides services to those engaged in a particular endeavor.
    • 1907 July 5, “Prosperity Among Camp Followers Not Always Proof of Profitable Mining”, in Ores and Metals, volume 16, page 251:
      When the camp followers are engaged in supplying genuine recreation, in ministering to intellectual and spiritual wants instead of pandering to destructive instincts, the economic as well as the moral health of the community is sound.
    • 1909 March, “The Camp Followers”, in Barrel and Box and Packages, volume 14, number 1, page 40:
      The good fellow is the man with the good character and the object of the camp followers is to see that all the coopers and stave men have a good time.
    • 1933, Newsweek - Volume 1, page 23:
      Tipsters are the camp-followers of every speculative orgy, living by their wits on scraps from roaring stock markets, making their get-away before the suckers can hit back.
    • 1951, “Camp Followers of Bureaucracy”, in Journal of Accountancy, volume 92, page 548:
      A Group which cannot complain too bitterly of expanded government interference in what used to be called private business includes tax experts, lawyers, and certified public accountants. Indeed, these camp followers of bureaucracy may be said to have struck it rich, since no businessman, or even professional man, with an income worth mentioning, is able to move hand or foot without employing an expert to assure him that he has not, merely by earning his living, laid himself liable to :Template:,,,
    • 1971, Douglas Bush, Matthew Arnold: a survey of his poetry and prose, page 204:
      It was Arnold who, while setting criticism below creation, raised it from a camp follower of literature to the vanguard of thought.
  3. One who joins a group, movement, or project without being a legitimate member; one who jumps on a bandwagon.
    • 1910, P.R. Barney, “The Advertising Camp Followers”, in Printers' Ink, volume 71, number 13, page 40:
      I wouldn't discourage my camp followers for worlds! But I watch them pretty carefully, and when they show signs of making money, then I begin to put the screws on.
    • 1961, Abulḥasan ʻAlī Nadvī, Islam and the World, page 193:
      To learn from the Western countries which are scientifically and technologically advanced is one thing, but the moment Muslims forget that their roots are in Islam, and become the intellectual camp-followers of others, their creative energies are damped.
    • 1979, Aleksandr Mikhaĭlovich Rodchenko, ‎David Elliott, ‎David King, Alexander Rodchenko:
      But the one difficulty was in talking about the work of talentless artists, the camp-followers of Futurism.
    • 1986, John Riddell, Lenin's Struggle for a Revolutionary International, page 479:
      The petty-bourgeois camp-followers of the Social Democracy had been taken in by the bait of "patriotism," and thus the opponents of the Social Democracy were assured of success.
    • 1989, Willard B. Frick, ‎Abraham Harold Maslow, ‎Gardner Murphy, Humanistic psychology, page viii:
      And as opposed to the sloppy sloganeering of the camp followers, the work of the innovators has methodological interest too: for these men want to be no less rigorous in their work for dealing with interesting, human problems; they want always to work things out (you'll see this so clearly in the interviews), not just to repeat what they've heard.
    • 2000, Pratt's Guide to Venture Capital Sources, page 52:
      Do not add camp followers to your project if there is no operational benefit from doing so.


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