I am under the impression that both coterminous and conterminous have exactly the same meaning. There was a remark that Latin purists prefer conterminous. Why?

Is there any significant difference between the two? Do co- and con- have same effect on words?

I am looking for any additional information about these two words which would help me understand them better.


Yes, conterminous and coterminous both mean "to share a boundary".

According to the entries for co- and con-, below, co- is an Anglicising of con-, which is possibly why Latin purists prefer con-

In this instance co- and con- both mean together or with.

Etymology of co-

in Latin, the form of com- in compounds with stems beginning in vowels and h- and gn- (see com-). Taken in English from 17c. as a living prefix meaning “together, mutually, in common,” and used promiscuously with native words and Latin-derived words not beginning with vowels, sometimes even with words already having it (e.g. co-conspiritor).

Etymology of con-

prefix meaning "together, with," sometimes merely intensive; the form of com- used in Latin before consonants except -b-, -p-, -l-, -m-, or -r-. In native English formations, co- tends to be used where Latin would use con- (e.g. costar).

|improve this answer|||||
  • 1
    So the semantic fields of these words are coterminous. – bdsl Sep 23 '15 at 13:26

"Con-" has the meaning of :

used with certain words to add a notion similar to those conveyed by with, together, or joint congenial, congregation, console, consonant, construct, converge, etc.

It has the same meaning as "co-", which means:

together; mutually; jointly

"Conterminous" and "Coterminous" do mean the same.

|improve this answer|||||

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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