Does “troubleshot” make you think of that photo bomb that wasn’t your wisest decision? Is it a penalty kick in a tied game? Does it make you think of that last two ounces of tequila that you just shouldn’t have agreed to?
I’m okay with these definitions. I think they are all “trouble-shots” in their own way. But you know how you also need to think of “troubleshot”? It’s the past tense of “troubleshoot.”
Yep, it’s true.
To “troubleshoot,” as in to investigate and problem solve, works as a verb just like the word “shoot,” which is where this word derives—that combination of “trouble” and “shoot.” Today, you might shoot. Yesterday, you shot. It’s not tricky. I’m not quite sure where the confusion came from.
Once, this word was hyphenated (“trouble-shoot”), but now, “troubleshoot” is most commonly used as a single word. We’ve discussed hyphens dropped over time (from “on-line” to “pick-up“), and this is just one more example of that linguistic phenomenon.
What surprised me is that this word is much older than I assumed. It’s not a word of the same generation as “cyber” or “blog,” vocabulary babies of the dotcom era. “Troubleshoot” goes back over one hundred years to 1918, and it came from “troubleshooter,” which traced back to more than a decade earlier in 1905.
This begs the question of what was being troubleshot in this time period. That answer is surely the plot to a historical mystery series … one which I want to ponder … or perhaps you can take a stab at this one.
In the end, though, when you’re feeling stuck on “troubleshooted” vs. “troubleshot,” just remember that “shooted” isn’t a word. Therefore, neither is “troubleshooted.” You might see it written or hear it said, but this is just linguistic confusion in action.
Got it? I have no doubt that you do.
Happy writing, folks.
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