School's cleaner and minor repairman

A-friend

Senior Member
Persian (Farsi)
What do you call a person who brings tea / coffee etc. for the schools staff, holds the keys to all the rooms, keeps the school’s classes clean, cleans up the yard, mops up the stairs, and even sometimes does minor repairs of the schools building.
a) janitor
b) custodian
c) caretaker
For me both words work with a slight nuance. I guess the only difference is that “b” is a bit nicer word to address a person who has exactly the same tasks in a school. “c” can work either for me. Unfortunately I cannot distinguish these three words about this concept.
 
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  • Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    In the U.S., a person who is responsible for cleaning and minor repairs would not also bring the staff tea and coffee. In most U.S. schools the staff get their own tea and coffee, though the principal (headmaster/headmistress) may have an assistant who gets it for him or her.

    As for the other jobs: the usual term in the U.S. is custodian. The word janitor describes a lower level of responsibility, only cleaning, and is not used much today. We do not often use the word caretaker for this type of position, though most people would understand it in context.
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    When I was at school in the UK, it was (c) - the caretaker. I was under the impression that (a) janitor was a North American equiavalent although I see that Egmont says they don't use it much now. We woudn't use (b) custodian in this context for a British school.
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    Caretaker is still the word in the UK .. but I have to say they have never had anything to do with refreshements for teachers in my experience. If there are drinks made for teachers, etc then the people who do that are usually called canteen staff.
     

    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    When I was a kid we called them janitors. I've always considered "custodian" to be an attempt at dressing it up and making it sound more impressive. "Caretaker" to me has live-in connotations.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    This threads discusses janitors and custodians: Janitor's closet [+ custodian]

    As far as I know, we don't have a job category that involves both taking care of the building and serving tea, so I can't find a thread or suggest a word. As has been said above, that may be done by an assistant of some sort, but I have never known of a place where someone serves tea or coffee to the staff as a group.
     
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