Author Topic: Compeer?  (Read 5192 times)

Morbius

  • Paronomaniac
  • ******
  • Posts: 436
    • View Profile
Compeer?
« on: June 16, 2012, 09:08:14 AM »
Thursday's 10 letter puzzle included compeer as a common word.  I must admit, I'd never read or heard the word before.  It seems to be an archaic word dating from the 13th or 15th century (depending on which dictionary you consult).  Only six people got rosettes on that puzzle, so I suspect very few people got it.  A candidate for demotion to rare status perhaps?

TRex

  • Glossologian
  • **
  • Posts: 1673
  • ~50 miles from Chicago, in the Corn (maize) Belt
    • View Profile
Re: Compeer?
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2012, 09:49:19 AM »
com-what??

I don't play the ten-letter puzzle, but I sure wouldn't want to encounter this as a common word on the nine-letter puzzles!

ensiform

  • Paronomaniac
  • ******
  • Posts: 444
    • View Profile
Re: Compeer?
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2012, 09:56:43 AM »
I've encountered it many times.  Don't know if it's common but it doesn't seem ultra rare to me either.

Honestly, and I don't mean to sound supercilious, but sometimes I wonder if people think "common" means "available to a ten year old."

mkenuk

  • Eulexic
  • ***
  • Posts: 2157
  • Life? Don't talk to me about life.
    • View Profile
Re: Compeer?
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2012, 10:04:37 AM »
My COD shows it as 'formal' but it seems to have much the same meaning as 'peer'.  I did play 'compere' which would certainly be common in UK. Maybe it's not known elsewhere? I suspect Americans prefer 'TV host' ,"M.C." or 'anchorman'
MK

Morbius

  • Paronomaniac
  • ******
  • Posts: 436
    • View Profile
Re: Compeer?
« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2012, 11:08:17 AM »
I got compere too, and was surprised it was classified as rare.  To me at least, compere is way more common that compeer

Maudland

  • Lexicomane
  • ***
  • Posts: 147
  • London, UK
    • View Profile
Re: Compeer?
« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2012, 07:56:24 PM »
I must have encountered it, as it's cited in Shakespeare, Milton, Dickens etc. Usually though, I either recognise the 'common' words I don't get (bah, missed it!) or the dictionary cites some contemporary examples, and it's my ignorance that's let me down. I agree with Morbius that this one is more of a 'rare' word as it doesn't seem to be in current use.

So, Ensiform, I understand your thinking, but your comment was unnecessarily mean. I think of 'common' words as words that I ought to know as a reasonably well-read, well-informed person. There were no twinges of shame in not knowing this word.

Gaye Christine

  • Paronomaniac
  • ******
  • Posts: 339
  • Johannesburg, South Africa
    • View Profile
Re: Compeer?
« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2012, 11:11:16 PM »
I agree, Maudland - I didn't "miss" it as it would never have occurred to me, but was surprised
when "compere" came up as rare.  When I saw the solution I went "whut?" and hit the dictionary rather
than, as you put it, "bah, missed it" - not a "twinge of shame" was felt  ;D

pat

  • Eulexic
  • ***
  • Posts: 2952
  • Rugby, England.
    • View Profile
Re: Compeer?
« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2012, 11:29:29 PM »
Never seen the word compeer in my life. Not embarrassed or ashamed to admit that. Compere very common.

ensiform

  • Paronomaniac
  • ******
  • Posts: 444
    • View Profile
Re: Compeer?
« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2012, 11:49:05 PM »
I have never heard of the word compere in my life.   :D

TRex

  • Glossologian
  • **
  • Posts: 1673
  • ~50 miles from Chicago, in the Corn (maize) Belt
    • View Profile
Re: Compeer?
« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2012, 06:00:23 AM »
I've never (to the best of my knowledge) encountered compeer or compere. Might this be a regional difference?

Alan W

  • Administrator
  • Eulexic
  • *****
  • Posts: 3995
  • Melbourne, Australia
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Compeer?
« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2012, 06:11:34 PM »
My first thought was that these two words are both classified wrongly. But I see that compere is, as TRex suggests, affected by regional variations and should remain rare.

Dictionaries label compere as a British word, although it is also current in Australia. Contemporary usage is for the host of a television show or the person introducing the acts in a concert. It is also used as a verb.

It comes from a French word and was once often written with a grave accent over the first e. It is pronounced like compare, but with the stress on the first syllable. It originally meant a godfather, considered in relation to the godmother and the child's actual parents as a sort of crony or person sharing in a parental role. From here it became a male friend or close acquaintance (similar to the meaning of compeer), and then - somehow - a man organising an entertainment. There is a female equivalent, the commere, a word that has gone right out of existence, but is also accepted in Chihuahua. The OED has a quote from a 1916 Stage Year Book: "Those wholly invaluable revue characters, the commère and compère, who act as a form of Greek chorus, and supply the necessary connective cement."

Compere is quite common in Britain and elsewhere, but evidently not used in the US, so it is rightly classed as rare.

Compeer certainly should also be rare. I got 16 hits on the word at the Guardian newspaper site, but most of these were referrring to a company name, a couple were mistakes for the other word we're considering ("he compeered a radio broadcast") and one was  quoting Shakespeare. About the only genuine contemporary use I found was in a wine review: "If you taste 2003 Bordeaux reds side by side with their compeers, you could end up misleading yourself."
Alan Walker
Creator of Lexigame websites

TRex

  • Glossologian
  • **
  • Posts: 1673
  • ~50 miles from Chicago, in the Corn (maize) Belt
    • View Profile
Re: Compeer?
« Reply #11 on: June 18, 2012, 04:47:41 AM »
My first thought was that these two words are both classified wrongly. But I see that compere is, as TRex suggests, affected by regional variations and should remain rare.

It was a bit of a wild guess.

Dictionaries label compere as a British word, although it is also current in Australia. Contemporary usage is for the host of a television show or the person introducing the acts in a concert. It is also used as a verb.

In the U.S., such a person used to be called a 'Master (Mistress?) of Ceremonies', but that is now commonly shortened to 'MC' or written out as 'emcee'. It also functions as a verb.


It comes from a French word and was once often written with a grave accent over the first e. It is pronounced like compare, but with the stress on the first syllable. It originally meant a godfather, considered in relation to the godmother and the child's actual parents as a sort of crony or person sharing in a parental role. From here it became a male friend or close acquaintance (similar to the meaning of compeer), and then - somehow - a man organising an entertainment. There is a female equivalent, the commere, a word that has gone right out of existence, but is also accepted in Chihuahua. The OED has a quote from a 1916 Stage Year Book: "Those wholly invaluable revue characters, the commère and compère, who act as a form of Greek chorus, and supply the necessary connective cement."

Wow, that is quite a transition of meaning! Once again, Alan, you have provided a wonderful history of a word. We 'wordy nerdies' (per Cariboo!), love seeing stuff like that.