Is there a difference between being a “writer” and a “co-writer” on a book or other project?
Aren’t both “co-authors” actually “authors” — and if they are — why add the “co-” before the action?
Does “co-” share the wealth or spread the blame?

I have always preferred to say “we’re writing together” instead of adding “co-” to our precious effort.

One thing I will never abide is the dropping of the hyphenated “co-” from common usage no matter what Oxford says:

In modern American English, the tendency increasingly is
to write compound words beginning with co- without hyphenation, as in
costar, cosignatory, and coproduce. British usage generally tends more
often to show a preference for the older, hyphenated, spelling, but
even in Britain the trend seems to be in favor of less hyphenation than
in the past. In both the U.S. and the UK, for example, the spellings of
coordinate and coed are encountered with or without hyphenation, but
the more common choice for either word in either country is without the

Co- with the hyphen is often used in compounds that are not yet
standard ( co-golfer), or to prevent ambiguity (co-driver –because
codriver could be mistaken for cod river), or simply to avoid an
awkward spelling (co-own is clearly preferable to coown). There are
also some relatively less common terms, such as co-respondent (in a
divorce suit), where the hyphenated spelling distinguishes the word’s
meaning and pronunciation from that of the more common correspondent.

“Co-forever” means we’re in it together with the co- unless we’re writing!


  1. I am so glad you are back. Your site was not here for a few hours this morning.
    I never thought about the “co-” thing before. Sort of like “co-parenting” right? Why the co-? Remove the co-!

  2. Hiya Simms!
    Hey-yeah! It’s good to be back. Yesterday was slow and sad. I just wish I understood what needed to be done to prevent the slowdown from happening again in the future.
    Heh! “Co-parent” is just as awful! You’re a full parent, no matter what! Drop the co-!

  3. It must be frustrating to see things go slow here but not know the reason why. Things seem fine now though.
    A writer is a writer. A parent is a parent. If you do it together — do it together but don’t split the difference with a co- even if the co- means you’re doing it together.
    Did that sound right?

  4. Hey Simms!
    Yeah, “co-author” might be shorter and simpler than “writing it together” but since when did we ever support something that was clearer and briefer?!!

  5. Co-opted by the dictionary and encylopaedia, (can’t even place the ae close like Webster on the net), or Coopted. i prefer “cooped.” LOL.

  6. fred!
    Language is very funny and very powerful. I wonder if other languages use the wacky “co-” moniker to differentiate between such subtle callings or if we are alone in our madness?

  7. David- Yes for sure language is very powerful, but compared to what? No language? Ever see a Australian movie called “The Quiet Room.” About a young girl frustrated about living in the city with no dog, goes on a speech fast. She ends up having the family move to the country and gets her own dog. There is definitely something “grounding” about words, as anyone who ever speech fasted would probably admit.

  8. fred —
    All languages — spoken, visual and bionic — are powerful. Those without a cohesive language — the severely Autistic, the severely mentally disabled as two examples — are alone in the prison of their own minds. You are only human if you are able to effectively communicate your needs and desires to others.
    Here’s the synopsis of the movie you mention:

    Dutch-Australian director Rolf de Heer’s second film is a vision of a quickly dissolving marriage as seen through the eyes of a seven-year-old child. Chloe Ferguson (de Heer’s real-life daughter) stars as a nameless little girl who withdraws completely into herself and refuses to speak as the level of animosity between her mother (Celine O’Leary) and father (Paul Blackwell) moves them inexorably closer to divorce. The girl’s voice is heard, however, as narration, in which she describes her increasing alienation from the squabbling adults who are becoming more self absorbed, and more childish, than their child. Her only refuge is her blue-walled room, a fantasyland of goldfish and Barbie dolls that don’t bicker, where she can remember happier days when she as three, or dream of a pet dog and a house in the country. The theme of an immature soul trapped by family within the confines of a home thematically mirrored de Heer’s more controversial previous film Bad Boy Bubby (1993), which did not find North American distribution.

    Have you seen the Indian movie “Black” about a Deaf child who struggles to communicate with learning a language that isn’t her own? Others view her as an animal and she behaves up to their uncivilized expectation until her language acquisition.

  9. David- Weird to read the synopsis after seeing the movie. The movie seemed like a perfect work of art to me. Like hearing Albert Ayler play “Summertime.”
    Never saw the movie “Black.”
    Then there’s Thomas Merton and “Heard melodies are sweet…
    Just a Backwards Indian or NOPITA (Natural Organic Pain in the Ass, i guess. LOL.

  10. David- How about people like Thelonious Monk who were almost totally non-verbal (except with his wife), and affected millions of people with his highly original music. How about Lao Tzu?

  11. Hi fred —
    I don’t accept your argument that language and communication must be verbal. Communication and language can be felt — Braille — and whole-body absorbed — Jazz — and the meaning, intent and grammar are all inherently clear even if you are not a native speaker.
    Those who are trapped in a persistent vegetative or severely Autistic state — and I’m discounting Savants from that grouping because they have the ability to find an outward path for connection — are those who suffer the most in the pool of their own languageless loneliness.

  12. David- To me everything is communicating. Didn’t mean to imply that language had to be verbal, in fact that was part of the point i was trying to make. It seems as if many times people are trapped in what is called autistic states by overly co-opted thinking groups and individuals. As Nietzsche and R.D.Laing contend, groups are far more often “insane,” than are individuals, in fact it is the norm. Thirty million Frenchmen, or any nationality CAN be “wrong.” To me any autistic person is more “sane” than a warrior.

  13. David- i guess heavy autism would be non-warrior. At a certain point, words start to loose any meaning. i have never been around anyone with severe autism. Have been around a few with “partial autism,” and they seemed more creative, interesting, and seemed to have more potential if the world was more set up to accept them.

  14. Is it possible to be a non-warrior by nature or must one choose that non-instinctive path? If the path is a choice, then we need to make sure the mind is capable of conceiving the ramifications of the choice before we judge their altruism or barbarism.

  15. Most people seem instinctively non-warrior until someone gets the ball rolling along the war path. It seems war has greatly increased in the last 8,000 years or so and everyone has been co-opted to join. Speaking from first hand experience i have always been as far away from the “warrior instinct” as one could imagine. Out of the thousands of children i knew growing up, i can only think of one in 6-8th grade, who i would say was out looking for a fight without provocation, and very few who would look for a battle unless severly provoked. It seemed only when people became military age that some became militarily involved, and that seemed most like co-opting to me. It seems like mostly so called Christians and Muslims and now that Israel exists even Jews are the warriors. One must be taught to hate generally. It’s not instinctive. The world has been set up for the past 2,000 years to kill in the name of the one man called a “God man,” when each of has that living principle in us. The message of Jesus wasn’t that he was the messiah, but anyone is, who becomes himself as he did. The establishment said O.K. let Jesus be the “God-man,” but there will be no more. There have been 127,000,000 killed over this idiocy alone. It has nothing to do with instinct.

  16. fred —
    How can you be “far away from the ‘warrior instinct’ as one could imagine” when you argue with everyone here? Or are you only counting bloodshed and mortal wounding?
    I think we also have an animal instinct to kill and preserve the fittest among us. You don’t survive in a Darwinian world if you don’t practice some selfish and serious preservation-technique.
    Killing is natural and expected and it has nothing to do with God.

  17. Yes!!!
    “Black” is a milestone in Indian movie.
    I saw it here in USA with two other friends. One of them was extremely moved by it, was almost speechless after seeing it, the other one found it a bit slow…
    I asked him to watch Dhoom …that made him happy!

  18. “Black” is a magnificent movie, Katha! I ordered the DVD direct from the Indian movie production company here in New York. I am one of the speechless…
    Dhoom looks interesting!

  19. Yes, David! “Black” is magnificent.
    It was amazing to watch the teacher (Amitabh Bachchan, the icon of the Indian movie – of the so called “disabled” kid performing probably his best in his acting career of three decades. We are so used to see him playing the regular, meaningless, mainstream, commercial role! “Black” just brought out everyone’s best!
    My “speechless” friend expected/assumed it to be a repetition of “Helen Keller” type movie…. 😀
    There are two other movies that deal with the same subject:
    Koshish ( and
    Khamoshi – The Musical ( Khamoshi was the debut by the director of “Black”.
    Black surpassed each of them.
    “Dhoom” was the biggest hit of 2004! It is interesting! You can watch the whole movie or the song ( 🙂
    The only thing is the translation is funny…they translate everything word for word which fails to bring out the essence of it.

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