Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I recently saw the word 'compatriate' used in a newspaper article. Upon looking it up, suspecting a typo (or even an eggcorn: it is easy to see how compatriot would be mixed-up with expatriate etc.), I was surprised to see Wiktionary vouch for the word with the sole explanation: "Alternative spelling of compatriot".

However, not only did my googling yield extremely few credible uses of this spelling, none of the dictionaries I have access to have ever heard of it: both dictionary.com and Merriam Webster do not return anything.

While I don't want to cast unfair aspersions on Wiktionary's reliability, I find it slightly suspicious that no other online sources mention this spelling... And if it is an acceptable spelling, I would love to know what is its relation to the main spelling and whether it is tied to particular regional or historical practices.

share|improve this question
    
I think this is a very good question, well written and thought out. –  Brendon Nov 9 '11 at 17:00
2  
Wiktionary is extremely permissive with misspellings. They seem to be marked sometimes as misspellings and sometimes as "alternative spellings", without any discernible (to me) pattern. –  ShreevatsaR Nov 9 '11 at 17:03
1  
Some words just ain't...words. –  Mitch Nov 9 '11 at 17:05
3  
On the flip side, I once came across the word "expatriot" in a newspaper article. I thought to myself, "What's that? Someone who no longer loves his country?" –  Jay Nov 9 '11 at 17:43
    
@ShreevatsaR: 'permissive' sounds like there is an authority granting indulgences. There is no natural pattern because of uncontrolled multiple authorship/lack of editorship. If you want to make up words there you can. –  Mitch Nov 9 '11 at 21:15

3 Answers 3

up vote 11 down vote accepted

The OED has no entry for compatriate. The entry for compatriot has no other spelling, and nor do any of the citations, from 1611 to 1871.

I shouldn't worry about casting aspersions on any source whose definitions are not backed either by implicit or explicit evidence.

share|improve this answer
5  
This. "What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence." — Christopher Hitchens –  Robusto Nov 9 '11 at 17:05
    
I know. Great innit? –  Barrie England Nov 9 '11 at 17:16
4  
What sources can Hitchens cite for that statement, @Robusto初夢? –  JeffSahol Nov 9 '11 at 17:32

There are ~700 results for ?:compatriate in books; this is relatively rare, esp. compared to compatriot which is 3 orders of magnitude more common in the same corpus.

However, looking at books that also mention the word dictionaryI found 'An etymological dictionary of the English language' by Walter William Skeat, unfortunately you can't see in what context it is mentioned there (or if it might have been a scanning error).

EDIT: COHA, COCA and BYU-BNC find no matches (ref).

share|improve this answer

It's amusing to note that expatriot (vs the proper expatriate) is in at least one eggcorn database, while compatriate (vs compatriot) is not. (Not yet, at least.)

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.