The Grammarphobia Blog

Spell-checked

Q: At a family gathering, my daughter-in-law said she had trouble pronouncing “cocommitant.” Being a know-it-all, I told her the correct pronunciation. Later, I looked for it in my Microsoft Word spell checker, Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, Black’s Law Dictionary, etc. Nada! Not a trace. When I googled it, though, I had 144 hits. What’s going on?

A: I think the word you want is “concomitant.” It’s primarily an adjective, meaning happening at the same time or accompanying. But it’s also a noun for something that exists at the same time as another thing or that accompanies another thing.

Both adjective and noun date back to the early 1600s, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. The root is the Latin verb concomitari, which means to accompany.

As for your googling “cocommitant” and getting 144 results, a lot of Google hits are actually misses, including “concommitant,” “concomitent,” and “concomitont.”

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