So is it homi- or homo-?

Here’s one that gives me fits. I’m always misspelling “homicide” as “homocide”. Aaaand within an embarassingly short time, someone makes a crack about “homocide” being the killing of or by a gay person. (Which by the way, I should point out that I specifically do NOT advocate killing someone based on their sexual orientation, or based on anything for that matter. It’s just a spelling mistake! …Can you tell I’ve built up quite a complex over this? :smack: )

I looked up “homo” and “homi” and all I found was a definition of “homo”, being a prefix for relating something to the human race, and secondly as a slang term for a gay person. No results for “homi”. Nor for “homic”, which is apparently a root word for “homicide”… And I can’t think of any other words that start with “homi-”.

And then it gets weird. The prefix “homo-” doesn’t always relate specifically to mankind. “Homogeneous” means “of the same kind”. “Homophone” means “sounding alike”. Indeed, “homosexual” indicates sexual relations with another member of the same gender, not specifically within the human realm. Arg.

So what’s the deal here? Why do we spell it “homi-”? What makes the spelling “homocide” incorrect? Does homicide specifically imply killing of a human by a human, or can a dog killing another dog be called homicide?

The Dun King

Here’s what Merriam-Webster has to say about the origins of the word:

So, in a sense you’re right - that the homo- prefix is involved meaning human being. But we spell it homicide to more closely reflect the Latin root.

That’s my WAG and I’m sticking to it.

:smiley: :smiley: :smiley:

The prefixes in the words homicide and homosexual are derived from completely different roots. Homicide comes from the latin words *homo * (a human being) and *caedo * (to kill). Homosexual comes from the Greek word *homos * (same), as distinct from *heteros * (different).

And while homo is the nominative case of the Latin word for man/human, all the other cases of the word start with homin-, hence the change from “o” to “i” in combining forms. As Rico correctly guessed, homi- reflects the root form of the word. These sites explain more completely: (scroll down to “Grammar”)

Homos or homaeos is a Greek adjective meaning “same” and gives rise to homosexual, homogenous, homeothermic, and related words where the prefix connotes “same” or “similar.”

Homo meaning “man” in Latin is the nominative for a noun whose root is “homin-” and constructions in English based on this generally take “homi-” or “homini-” as the root, e.g., “Pleistocene hominids” or “homicide.”

What Polycarp said. Which, as it happens, is my standard answer to all Greek and Latin-based questions.