Which one is the original prefix: con-, com-, or cor-? And which ones are variants?


Con- derives from the Latin prefix con-, which was in turn derived from the Latin word cum "with".

The prefix was assimilated to a following sound according to the following rules:

  • Before vowels and h, the prefix becomes co-.
  • Before b, m and p, the prefix becomes com-.
  • Before l, the prefix becomes col-.
  • Before r, the prefix becomes cor-.
  • Before n or gn, the prefix becomes cō- (or con- in Late Latin).
  • Before gn, the prefix becomes co-.
  • Before s or f, the vowel in the prefix becomes nasalized con- [kõ]ː
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  • 1
    Isn't it simpler to consider 'com-' as the 'original'? (since it started off as 'cum-') – Mitch Apr 29 '19 at 18:38
  • @Mitch You may have a point there, especially since cum itself comes from O Lat. com. But traditionally, con- is considered (ahem) the unmarked form. – Mark Beadles Apr 29 '19 at 18:41
  • According to American Heritage Dictionary, it came from 'kom': ahdictionary.com/word/search.html?q=com- – ayjay Apr 29 '19 at 19:54
  • 1
    It has a nasal at the end, and nasals assimilate, whether they're marked that way or not. So there's no difference between an "original" con- and a com-; both occurred plenty. – John Lawler Apr 29 '19 at 22:00

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