Just me nitpicking about grammar again.

"Body of a missing U.S. troop found in Iraq"

As a writer trying to make it and an aspiring editor, these sorts of headlines bother me. Call me a grammar nazi, but the diluted and incorrect use of the word "troop" in the above headline just screamed out to me when I saw it on the front page of Yahoo just now.

Let's use trusty dictionary.com to show just what is wrong with this picture:

troop (trūp) pronunciation

  1. A group or company of people, animals, or things. See synonyms at band2, flock1.
    1. A group of soldiers.
    2. troops Military units; soldiers.
    3. A unit of cavalry, armored vehicles, or artillery in a European army, corresponding to a platoon in the U.S. Army.
  2. A unit of at least five Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts under the guidance of an adult leader.
  3. A great many; a lot.

Clearly, "troop" refers to a group and is not a singular noun. This isn't the first time I've seen this word incorrectly used or used in an ambiguous way. Many people use it to mean soldiers, when it refers to groups of soldiers. This isn't the end of the world, and the article and occurrence it reports is a sad and important one, this is merely the frustration of one hopeful future editor who hasn't quite made it into her dream industry yet.

I suppose the blame goes to the Associated Press for letting this error slip past. Hey guys, need a new copy editor?