Con (prefix) – Meaning, Origin and Usage

The prefix “con” roughly translates to “with” or “together” when found in longer words.

There are many English words that begin with “con” and the word works in multiple ways as a standalone word.

The prefix is also used to allude to negative factors when used as the short version of “contra.”

This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.


In American English rhetoric, “con” is the element of a word that means “together” or “with.”

When used in the negative tense, “con” can mean the same thing as “contrary” or “in contrast”. For these reasons, the two prefixes are not the same.

The two prefixes are actually antonyms, although spelled the same way. 

Spanish speakers use “con” (pronounced cone) as a standalone word that means with. For example “Chili Con Carne” is translated to “Chili With Meat”.

This usage of the prefix is the closest to the original Latin meaning of the word.

In American rhetoric, individuals are known to make lists of “Pros and Cons” to weigh the ramifications of a pending decision.

“Pros” are determined to be the positive factors associated with the decision, while the “Cons” are the drawbacks.

These words are actually not opposites. In this instance, “Cons” relates to the larger prefix “Contra”.

American English speakers often use “con” in standalone form to describe a dishonest person, or a person who has been identified as a “convict” or “con-artist”.

In recent times, “Con” has been used on the end of words to denote a “convention” such as “ComicCon”.

Example Usage

  • Connect is one way to add the prefix con – it means to connect.
  • You can add the prefix con to create the word congregate- it means to band or flock together.
  • Consensus is another way to use the con prefix- this means to share the same idea or feeling as others.
  • To convene is a common use of the prefix con – it means to get together with other people.
  • Con can be used in the word conclude – this means to close completely.
  • An effect, specifically consequence is also a word that makes use of the prefix con.
  • Concise is perhaps one of the best words that use the con prefix- it means to cut short or be very specific.


“Con” is derived from the Latin word “Cum”, which translates to “Together.”

The prefix is found in English as the prefix to many words such as “contract” (agreement between parties), “connect” (combine), and “congregate” (gather together).

The prefix can be further shortened to “co” as a prefix for a compound word meaning the same (together).

The English added the Latin prefix to its language in the 17th century as a word that is used to form larger words, or to add meaning through forming a compound word.

Con is sometimes confused with the prefix “contra” which denotes opposites or conflict. It is important to remember that the two different prefixes are completely unrelated.

Translators often struggle with defining the appropriate usage for “Con” in English because it appears to create inconsistencies in the language.

Phrases Similar to Con

  • “En” (Within, In – Greek Prefix)

Phrases opposite to Con

  • “Pro” (i.e. Pros and Cons)
  • “Sans” (Without – Latin)
  • “Un”
  • “Non”
  • “De”

What is The Correct Saying?

  • “Con”
  • “Cons”

Ways People May Incorrectly Say Con

  • “Can”
  • “Cone” (Spanish Pronunciation)

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Con

Con is a prefix that is found in a wide assortment of words, some acceptable examples are below.

  • It is a good idea to always keep your emails concise to prevent confusion.
  • The former president will concede power following a failed election bid.
  • The consequence of staying up all night is naturally followed by being lethargic the next day.
  • From the evidence provided, we can conclude that it was impossible for the dog to have escaped on its own.

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