deserter/defector

  • albertovidal

    Senior Member
    Spanish, Argentina
    So, deserter only applies to the person who runs away from the army?
    But in this phrase "Calchas, a Troyan defector to the Greeks", Calchas is not the one who abandons his country or his cause, but the person who moves one side to the other. Or am I wrong?
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    That's right. Calchas defected: he changed sides. However, Odysseus deserted; he tried to leave the Greek army (but not join the Trojan side). A deserter just leaves one side, but a defector changes from one side to another (and might have to desert to do this).
     

    albertovidal

    Senior Member
    Spanish, Argentina
    That's right. Calchas defected: he changed sides. However, Odysseus deserted; he tried to leave the Greek army (but not join the Trojan side). A deserter just leaves one side, but a defector changes from one side to another (and might have to desert to do this).
    Thanks a lot.
    It's quite clear to me now
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Actually I have my facts wrong. Odysseus pretended to be mad, in order to avoid joining the Greek army. That's not deserting. He would have deserted if he had joined then left the army.
     

    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    My grandfather deserted from the Czar's army about 120 years ago. (At that time, if you were conscripted, it was for a minimum of 20 years.) He didn't defect: he couldn't, because Russia wasn't fighting anyone at the time - at least not in the area where he was stationed. He married my grandmother and they escaped to England together. The rest is history ...
     

    Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    Also, desertion is pretty much limited to the military. A private citizen cannot desert. But civil officials, athletes, and the like can defect to another country.
     

    macforever

    Senior Member
    Italian
    If a sailor quits his crew, simply because he gets bored, and does not join another crew, is he a defector or a deserter?
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    He's a deserter if he leaves without permission (in more than a temporary way).

    He's a defector if he goes to the enemy side and helps them.
     

    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    He's a deserter if he leaves without permission (in more than a temporary way)...
    But he is only a deserter if he leaves a military organization. If you leave civilian employment of any kind, you are not a deserter even if you leave without permission and without notice. You can desert from a navy, but you cannot desert from Microsoft or McDonald's - or from Maersk Shipping Line, even if your job is exactly the same as it would be in that navy.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Both of those terms are military terms. Anyone who leaves a private company is neither a deserter nor a defector so it's not really relevant to the difference between them.
     
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