Example: I noticed yesterday that in 'reheat' it is pronounced /i/ but in 'recollect' it is pronounced more like /ɛ/.

  • 1
    "reheat" means "heat again", but "recollect" doesn't mean "collect again" (ordinarily, but it it does, "re-" is pronounced [ri]).
    – Greg Lee
    May 13, 2018 at 15:44
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    does recollect not have a sense of again in it like the word remember? May 13, 2018 at 17:05
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    Yes. As the ordinary sense of "recollect" does not mean collect again, so "remember" does not mean member again.
    – Greg Lee
    May 13, 2018 at 19:22
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    And the specific meaning correlating to (after re-) again isn't what I'm asking for. I'm on about the specific use of re- as the morpheme with the meaning again May 13, 2018 at 19:26
  • Both "recollect" and "remember" contain the Latin prefix re "again".
    – fdb
    May 14, 2018 at 11:37

1 Answer 1


Short answer, no - vowel harmony is a property of a language, not a subset of words. Even so, there are many counter-examples to show this doesn't occur with re- words:

  • require, research, resource, rely, relay, retrace, return, review... etc

For words with a prefix 're-', the pronunciation falls into ~three categories with mostly predictable pronunciation of the first syllable. Your examples coincidentally happen to have the same vowel in their other syllables:


re + verb = redoing verb
stress on second syllable

  • rebuff (v.) /riːˈbʌf/
  • recapture (v.) /riːˈkæptjʊɚ/ -redress (v.²) /riːˈdrɛs/
  • remake (v.) /riːˈmeɪk/
  • reunion (n.) /riːˈjuːnɪən/
  • revisit (v.) /riːˈvɪzɪt/


stress on first syllable

  • remake (n.) /ˈriːmeɪk/


re + verb = different from just redoing verb
stress on second syllable

  • rebuff (v.) /rɪˈbʌf/
  • redact (v.) /rɪˈdækt/
  • redress (v.¹) /rɪˈdrɛs/
  • refect (v.) /rɪˈfɛkt/
  • resolve (n.) /rɪˈzɒlv/
  • resounding (ppl. a.) /rɪˈzaʊndɪŋ/
  • retrieval (v.) /rɪˈtriːvəl/


re + non-extant verb
stress on third syllable

  • resurrect (v.) /rɛzəˈrɛkt/
  • revolutionize (v.) /rɛvəˈl(j)uːʃənaɪz/

Excluding French etc loanwords with non-nativised pronunciation (e.g. recherché, relevé etc).

See here for more info:

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