Blue Collar Meets White Collar

blue collar etymology

These jobs often required vocational training or an apprenticeship, or they may have had on-the-job training. Blue-collar workers wore blue collars to hide dirt and stains from their clothes. White-collar workers did not have this concern since much of their work was done in offices. Unlike blue-collar employees, white-collar workers are considered highly educated and highly skilled. White-collar workers were classified as such because of the white shirts they wore to work, typically underneath their suits.

  • People who are considered blue-collar may or may not be skilled and generally earn hourly wages instead of salaries.
  • “White collar” appeared in 1910, and “blue collar” became prevalent in the 1920s and 1930s.
  • White-collar workers usually work in offices or other professional settings.
  • Blue-collar work often involves something being physically built or maintained.
  • Bring vs. Take Both words imply motion, but the difference may b…

Far more people are earning bachelor’s degrees, and they often expect to earn higher wages. Although most people with college degrees end up in white-collar jobs, there are also highly skilled blue-collar jobs that pay higher salaries than many white-collar positions. Blue-collar workers are those who work in skilled or unskilled manual labor jobs.

Why do we call manual laborers blue collar?

Blue-collar jobs are considered working-class jobs, which are paid hourly and usually involve manual labor. A blue-collar worker is a working class person who performs manual labor. Blue-collar work often involves something being physically built or maintained. White collar contrasts with blue collar, which refers to employees who perform labor jobs. Blue collar workers do manual work, i.e., duties in which they have to use their hands.

In the 1960s and 1970s, blue-collar workers and their families became nearly as popular subjects for social scientists as white-collar workers were in the 1950s. By the mid-1920s, collared work shirts were being mass produced cheaply enough to include pockets, collars, and cuffs, and industrial workers by that time could often afford to buy more than one. The 1926 Montgomery Ward mail-order catalog featured blue collar etymology the “Guaranteed Work Shirt,” described as a “big tough shirt of firm heavy chambray.” It came in two colors. Prior to industrialization, monarchs and the nobility distinguished themselves with elaborate starched, ruffled collars. The more elaborate the attire, the more apparent that they performed no manual labor. Blue-collar workers were perceived as being “lower class” than white-collar workers.

White-Collar Examples in a Sentence

They typically work in manual labor and are compensated by the hour or through piecework. The term was adopted because of the darker-colored clothing these workers wore. Some fields that fall into this category include construction, manufacturing, maintenance, and mining. Blue-collar were once perceived to be less educated, low-skilled, and of a lower social class but that perception is changing.

  • We’re far past “Mad Men”-style suits and into a “The Social Network” phase of workplace attire.
  • Blue collar jobs require manual labor and pay workers hourly wages.
  • Before making decisions with legal, tax, or accounting effects, you should consult appropriate professionals.
  • It appeared in the Merriam-Webster dictionary in 1946 and in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1950, attributed to American origins.
  • It’s a home office, but technically, it would be considered a white-collar position.

But, like anything these days, if you say it with negative intent or obvious slander, then yes, it would be considered offensive. Growing up, my father was a fisherman and then became a carpenter. It’s a home office, but technically, it would be considered a white-collar position. Few people agree on the exact origin of the phrase “white-collar job.” According to many dictionaries, its first known use was in 1911. In contrast, online etymology records state that the word appeared in 1909. Sometimes, however, workers from this job category can perform skilled labor.

Blue-Collar Came to be Known as “Working Class”

My aunt works in a white-collar job as a nurse practitioner for most of Newfoundland and parts of Canada. White-collar was actually coined in the 1920s when Upton Sinclair, a writer, used it to denote people who worked in stuffy office spaces and performed clerical work. For instance, aside from a high school degree, pest control experts also need an EPA certification. What’s more, in some states, they must complete apprentice training. Typically, white-collar professionals spend long hours behind a desk. Alas, over time, such a sedentary style of work can lead to health and weight problems.

blue collar etymology

Dating back to the 16th century, Chambray was first woven in the region of Cambrai, France, where it became a popular fabric among agricultural workers. It was the fabric of choice due it’s exceptional ability to breathe and it’s long life span in the field. Etymology is the study of the origin of words, and how their meanings change over time.

While white collar workers may often use their hands to do their job (e.g. data entry clerk), they most often don’t rely on their physical abilities like blue collar workers do. Many white collar jobs require degrees, so workers in these professions are usually more educated than blue collar workers. The term blue collar was first used in reference to trades jobs in 1924, in an Alden, Iowa newspaper. The phrase stems from the image of manual workers wearing blue denim or chambray shirts as part of their uniforms.

  • Examples might include technicians in manufacturing jobs that involve more IT skills than manual labor.
  • This is convenient for people whose typical workday gets them dirty, but they still need to interact with customers.
  • Typically, white-collar professionals spend long hours behind a desk.
  • Light and navy blue shirts hide dirt more easily than white, for example, and appear cleaner than they are.
  • While office workers could wear white-collared shirts without much fear of soiling them, and could also afford to launder their shirts regularly, manual laborers preferred darker colors.

Workers traditionally wore blue or dark clothing to hide the residue or dirt that resulted from their jobs. Although they traditionally required little to no educational background and very few skills, that isn’t the case today. Many blue-collar workers are highly educated and skilled and earn a significant amount of money. Blue collar is just one of the classifications of people in the workforce. It has traditionally been used to describe low-earning people with little to no education and few skills.

Is it OK to use the term blue-collar?

Blue collar has traditionally been a derogatory term and calling someone blue collar is considered by some to be offensive. That's because it was often associated with people who were perceived to be of a lower social class, with little to no education and skills, and with lower earning potential.

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