I'm talking about the Latin cum, which I've seen used conjunctively, as in A-cum-B. What does it mean, and how do you use it?

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    Needless to say that these times cum is usually used as slang for sperm, so I wouldn't use it with your meaning to avoid unwanted comedy effects. For example I would probably laugh if you were to say bedroom-cum-study.. May 22, 2011 at 19:12
  • Related: Origin of the word “cum”.
    – RegDwigнt
    May 23, 2011 at 9:42

4 Answers 4


Cum is the Latin word for with and is usually used to join two nouns, showing that something serves two purposes.

She is a waitress-cum-singer in the restaurant.

This is my bedroom-cum-study.

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    I haven't seen it I've just always taken it that way. A songstress that hasn't made it might work as a waitress but not the other way round hence the comparative rarity of "singer-cum-waitress". And while one who dwells in a residence equipped with a study could sleep there it seems he would have more choice in the matter than one who must use his bedroom as his study. May 22, 2011 at 15:19
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    I'm afraid that, like "intercourse," this is another once-useful word now consigned to the dustbin (at least with respect to polite expression).
    – The Raven
    May 22, 2011 at 15:54
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    @dbkk: If that's what you call subtle, I wonder what your basement-cum-sweatshop must look like... May 22, 2011 at 21:33
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    Cum is not derived from the Latin word for 'with', it is a Latin word for with.
    – user3448
    May 23, 2011 at 6:49
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    Much of all this eighth-gradery can be avoided by pronouncing it with a proper Latin pronunciation - COOM, not CUMM. Sep 21, 2011 at 21:26

The word cum is Latin for 'with', as in cum laude, which means "with honour". It is used in Latin Honors, as in

magna cum laude -- with great honour.
summa cum laude -- with highest honour.

As Jasper said, it is used in English to connect to things that are closely related.


About that matter, Etymonline says of the use of the Latin cum preposition:

The sexual cum seems to have no connection with Latin cum, the preposition meaning “with, together with”, which is occasionally used in English in local names of combined parishes or benifices (e.g. Chorlton-cum-Hardy), in popular Latin phrases (e.g. cum laude), or as a combining word to indicate a dual nature or function (e.g. slumber party-cum-bloodbath).

It's to be noted that both have the same pronunciation (/kʌm/ in British English, /kəm/ in American English). Both Etymonline, the New Oxford American Dictionary and Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary have it written “X-cum-Y”, with hyphens. Funnily, the later two use related examples, NOAD going for “study-cum-bedroom” and Cambridge for “bedroom-cum-study”.

However, modern usage doesn't always follow that prescription, at least in American English. The Corpus of Contemporary American English data for 2010 shows 11 occurrences using hyphens, and 3 occurrences without hyphens (such as “lawyer cum fitness enthusiast”, right there).

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    I must lead a sheltered life. Google's millions of hits for study-cum-bedroom only make me think of the tiny 'box-bedroom' in a lot of so-called 3-bedroom houses. So far as I'm concerned, the sexual use is just a deliberately abberant spelling of come [to a climax]. May 23, 2011 at 0:53

It also means "when" when it is presence of a subjunctive e.g. cum portavisset - "When he had carried"


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