For my entire life, I thought the correct word was Renumeration. But after reading a document that used Remuneration I checked google and apparently I was wrong.

The oxford dictionary has a link to Remuneration under the entry for Renumeration but it neglects to say why.

Are they both interchangable? I live in the UK, if it is a regional thing.

  • remuneration. I remember the order of "m" and "n" because it's the same as in "money," however I just looked it up and the two words don't seem to actually come from the same source. – herisson Jan 19 '16 at 10:28
  • It's a common misspelling. But "renumeration" means "the act of renumbering". – Hot Licks Jan 19 '16 at 13:31
  • "... thought the correct word was Renumeration" for what? What made you think Renumeration was a word? Maybe you (?mis-)read the word the first time on? – Kris Jan 19 '16 at 14:00
  • The word "remuneration" is often misspelled as "renumeration", which simply means counting or re-counting. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remuneration – Kris Jan 19 '16 at 14:00

According to the OED renumeration / remuneration are interchangeable. So too are the associated verbs - renumerate / remunerate. However, some commentators have strong feelings about renumeration being used with its first-cited meaning (i.e. remuneration, see below) "... to be avoided at all costs is the metathesized form renumeration." (R. W. Burchfield New Fowler's Mod. Eng. Usage (1996) 666/2). Remuneration is much more commonly used than renumeration (https://goo.gl/44GQRa).

Remuneration is first cited c.1400, comes from Middle French (remuneracion) and Latin (remūnerātiō), and means reward, recompense; (now usually) money paid for work or a service; payment, pay.

Continuously since the mid 16th century renumeration / renumerate have been used with the same meaning as remuneration / remunerate.

Since 1596, renumeration has also meant 'the action or an instance of numbering or enumerating again'. This is widely held to be it's primary meaning.

The OED suggests that renumeration with the meaning of remuneration is a variant by metathesis (https://goo.gl/lhMZQh) arising from a folk-etymological association with words in numer-.

  • -1 Usage: "Late 16th cent." (oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/renumeration) -- not today. – Kris Jan 19 '16 at 14:03
  • @Kris - I'm puzzled. I say in my post that the first OED citation for renumeration is 1572 (meaning 1) and 1596 (meaning 2). Isn't that late 16th century? – Dan Jan 19 '16 at 14:09
  • That's a different story from "Usage: 'Late 16th cent.'" -- origin versus currency. Many words/phrases have their origin centuries ago and yet are current today. Hope I'm clearer now. – Kris Jan 19 '16 at 14:11
  • @Kris - sorry, no, I don't follow. – Dan Jan 19 '16 at 14:12
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    @kris - I thought that was that was what you meant, which is why I am puzzled, because the OED post multiple citations over the centuries and I post their most recent (2002) in my answer. – Dan Jan 19 '16 at 14:20

Well, my dictionary defines renumeration as "Misspelling of remuneration".

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    Please use comments option. – Kris Jan 19 '16 at 14:04

When I started looking into this, I absolutely thought it was renumeration. Turns out Remuneration is WAY more popular. The OED website has the first recorded use of Remuneration at circa 1400 and of Renumeration over 150 years later. There is noted controversy over the use of "Remuneration", but only from a single source, listed by @Dan above.

Given that "remuneration" is used more than a 100 times more frequently in literature than "renumeration" (according to Ngram, linked above), I would say that answers your question. It also has a more logical etymological root, coming from the Latin remūnerātiō, meaning the same. "Renumeration" appears to lack any etymological root other than "probably formed via metathesis from "Remuneration".

It's going to take an awful long time for me to get used to it though...

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    Actually, "renumeration" is a legitimate word, adding the prefix "re-" to the word "numeration". But the meaning is "the act of renumbering". – Hot Licks Jan 19 '16 at 18:32
  • @HotLicks, I see what you mean - the two existed separately but the meaning of remuneration was absorbed at a later date by renumeration? – Ieuan Stanley Jan 19 '16 at 18:36
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    "Renumeration" was erroneously used instead of "remuneration", and somehow that use "stuck". Likely it was used erroneously in some textbook or maybe some law or regulation and "caught on" from there. – Hot Licks Jan 19 '16 at 19:08
  • @Dan, entirely agree where the second has become more commonplace, but remuneration appears to be far more prevalent in literature. – Ieuan Stanley Jan 19 '16 at 22:16
  • As it should be. Using "renumeration" to mean the same as "remuneration" is an error. And using "renumeration" to mean "the act of renumbering" is simply rare. – Hot Licks Jan 20 '16 at 0:20

Keep in mind that any uses of these words that we find from ca 1500 were originally written out in longhand by the author (who may or may not have had good handwriting), then typeset by a printer who may or may not have been very good at spelling. Consider what "remuneration" would look like in slightly loopy longhand and tell me that a typesetter unfamiliar with the word would get it set correctly, every time.

Looking through old books with Ngram I have on a number of occasions seen obvious spelling errors. "Renumeration" when is should be "remuneration" is simply a less-obvious spelling error.

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