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I've always used the term contractor to describe the type of engagement I have towards my clients. Basically, it mean that I'm not a permanent employee but rather a temporarily hired expert with the aim of delivering a specialized service. Basically a temp but with highly specific skill set.

Today, I've read an article that used the term contractor in the opposite sense. The contractor in this sense is the one that is asking someone to do something, not the one being asked.

... risk it too much. So he asked his contractors to give him several days for preparations. And he ...

Once I started thinking about it, it hit me that the (to me) unusual application of the term actually makes a lot more sense. If A proposes a contract and B accespts it, then A has contracted B, making A a contractor and B a contractee (just like A would be an employer and B an employee).

How should we treat the term in question? Have I been a contractee unawarely?

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    The Russian author of the article used the word incorrectly. See here. The contractor is the person who is given the contract to do the work., Commented Oct 26, 2021 at 11:44
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    Originally, "contractor" simply meant One who enters into a contract or agreement; a contracting party. So that could be either side of an arrangement as described above. But that definition, which is sense #1 from the full Oxford English Dictionary, is flagged "Obsolete except as in sense #2", where sense #2 is defined as One who contracts or undertakes to supply certain articles, or to perform any work or service (esp. for government or other public body), at a certain price or rate; in the building and related trades, one who is prepared to undertake work by contract. Commented Oct 26, 2021 at 11:45
  • @KateBunting All right, so I've been using contractor to describe the kind of engagement correctly. Now, that said, what do you think of the contractor / employer versus contractee / employee? Doesn't it make a lot of sense (despite being incorrect)? Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 5:45
  • I wouldn't have known that contractee was even a word (my spellchecker doesn't recognise it), but apparently it is. If someone has given you the contract to do a job you are the contractor. Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 8:16
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    I’m voting to close this question because it's based on a mistake, so there's nothing to learn from it
    – gotube
    Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 19:45

1 Answer 1

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Stolen from FumbleFingers's comment:

Originally, "contractor" simply meant One who enters into a contract or agreement; a contracting party. So that could be either side of an arrangement as described above. But that definition, which is sense #1 from the full Oxford English Dictionary, is flagged "Obsolete except as in sense #2", where sense #2 is defined as One who contracts or undertakes to supply certain articles, or to perform any work or service (esp. for government or other public body), at a certain price or rate; in the building and related trades, one who is prepared to undertake work by contract.

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