Connotation of "bridge builder"

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Dear all,

I am preparing a thank you letter to a retiring executive of an American company who had initiated collaboration with our company. Some projects have been launched thanks to his initial act as a catalyst, though he was not directly involved in them.
Would it be appropriate to refer to the executive in this letter as a great "bridge-builder"?

I googled the world and found an entry in Wikipedia saying that the poem "The Bridge Builder" is quoted frequently "usually in a religious context or stressing a moral lesson". I also found that the poem is about an old man (who the retiring executive also is, but still).

I am not sure how popular the poem is but I mean to use "bridge-builder" as a compliment and worry that it might not be interpreted that way.
Thank you for your thoughts!

  • Barque

    I mean to use "bridge-builder" as a compliment and worry that it might not be interpreted that way.
    I don't think you need to worry, especially if the context makes it clear that you mean it as a compliment. It doesn't sound the sort of thing that's used uncomplimentarily. Also, if the person you're writing to is American, chances are he'd be familiar with the poem.


    Senior Member
    British English
    The term "bridge-builder" should be recognised instantly by most native English speakers without any need for knowledge of a poem (which I have never heard of). A bridge-builder joins two river banks, so that the people on each bank can meet. The metaphor is applied frequently to somebody who brings people or organisations together, particularly if there was difficulty or conflict between the sides that were brought together. There is no religious connotation in the phrase. It is always positive in intent.


    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    It is frequently used when there has been conflict between the two sides, so that is a little bit of concern for me when using this word. The exact wording needs to avoid implying there was a conflict that he helped solve (if there wasn't any conflict). But I do think it's a word you can use if used well and I wouldn't worry about a religious meaning.
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