groom and ostler

zentinel

Member
Italian
"She was the cheerful servant of that establishment [an inn in the 1890's], who, in her part of factotum, turned groom and ostler at times."

This passage was from the novel Tess of the D'urbervilles, published circa 1890. I know she was a "brawny damsel" so that defines her masculine trait, but isn't saying both "groom and ostler" redundant? I don't see a difference, and I don't see why the author would say both.

Could someone kindly help me out, please? I always thought redundancy was a bad thing to practice when writing. Thanks!

EDIT: What is the word for a sentence or phrase containing two different, but redundant words? I looked it up once but I can't remember it. Thanks again.
 
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  • bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    She served as both groom (presumably tending horses rather than a manservant?) and ostler (someone who takes care of horses) since she was a factotum (one who has multiple roles).
     

    zentinel

    Member
    Italian
    Yes, but aren't tending horses and taking care of horses both the same tasks?
     
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    johndot

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The only difference that I’m aware of is that a groom is in charge of the horses and stables on a private estate, while an ostler is a servant of a hostelry, but whose duties are the same. Unfortunately, this doesn’t answer the question why the brawny lass did both jobs; as you say, the work is the same.
     

    TimLA

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    Interesting question.

    Without going to any references, I though the phrase "groom and ostler" just sounded very nice, so I thought it might be a literary/poetic construction that is not uncommon.

    Going to the OED, apparently "ostler" is derived from "hosteler" (hostler) that of being a keeper of a hostelry (as mentioned by Johndot), but from the 16th century it was used almost uniformly used as synonymous with "groom".

    So if I had to bet, I'd bet on "literary" construction - sounds nice.
     
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