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Is there a way to distinguish between repairing something in the sense of fixing it vs. "re-pairing" something in the sense of regrouping things together.

For example a wireless keyboard and its usb receiver have to be paired. After some time or because you replaced one of the components they need to be paired again, they need to be "re-paired". Same thing for pairing an Apple Watch with an iPhone.

What is the proper way to phrase that? Is "repairing" correct and simply can have different meanings based on the context. Or is "re-pairing" a valid alternative?

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    "Repair" should be avoided in this sense, since the concept of "re-pairing" things is rare, while "repairing" in the sense of restoring a damaged/malfunctioning object is common. Using "repair" instead of "re-pair" is almost certain to cause confusion. (Even "re-pair" itself is apt to confuse some people.) – Hot Licks Apr 11 at 12:20
  • You could renew the pairing, or repeat it. – Michael Harvey Apr 11 at 14:54
  • Or pair again or re-do the pairing or even repair the pairing! – TrevorD May 11 at 16:49
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Anytime there's potential confusion over the meaning of a word starting with the prefix re, it's fine to employ a hyphen after the prefix.

In doing so, the re must signify do something again.

Examples include

Re-treat (to treat again) rather than concede ground on the battlefield or attend a spirituality getaway

Re-tire (put tires on a car again) rather than go to bed or be done with one's career

Re-cover (to cover again) rather than get better from illness

Etc

Your situation falls within this sphere of practice. In speech there would be no hyphen and the meaning would be given by context, perceived speaker's intention, lingo, and perhaps intonation.

Resources include: Grammar Book

Grammar Monster

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I think re-pair should do the job. This is my personal opinion established after a bit of online research.

Re-pair is not a word, not in Oxford dictionary at least. People had to make it up. It should be added to the dictionary, I believe.


One might have to repair it to be able to re-pair it.

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    Of course "re-pair" is a word. It follows the rules of English morphology and phonology and, as a nice bonus, the meaning is transparent. – user323578 Apr 11 at 14:30
  • 1
    Opinions are for the comment section. – Cascabel May 11 at 16:35

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