[ Etymonline for 'concomitant (adj.)' ] ... from com- "with, together" (see com-) + comitari "join as a companion," from comes (genitive comitis) "companion" (see count (n.)).

[ Etymonline for 'count (n.)' ] ... from COM- "with" (see com-) + stem of ire "to go" (see ion). ...

For want of discrimination, I bolded the later 2nd com- prefix, and capitalised the first one.
How and why was a second com- fastened onto comitari?
Is the 2nd redundant? If the 2nd is necessary, what does it mean especially?

What are some formal terms describing this phenomenon?

  • 2
    There are not "two com- prefixes in comcomitant (sic)"; there is one "con" and one "com" in concomitant (sic recte).
    – fdb
    May 13, 2015 at 23:53

1 Answer 1


Lexicalization. At an earlier stage, the combination kom+i- might be derived productively and the meaning can be computed compositionally. But it takes on a different meaning from "go with", and it gets reanalyzed as comitare. Reanalysis wipes out the memory of the word having come from kom+i-, and a millenium later someone re-prefixes this verb.

  • 3
    Right. Once something is lexicalized, it's reified and its older parts aren't accessible. That's why (for one example) the Greek roots helico- 'spiral' and -pter 'wing' that make up helicopter have been rebroken at a different joint to form the English forms heli- and -copter, as in helipad and cargo copter.
    – jlawler
    May 13, 2015 at 21:41
  • Thanks. Would you please clarify it takes on a different meaning from "go with"? Which different meaning?
    – user5306
    Aug 18, 2015 at 2:13

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