Why are the two words "foot" and "cooperation" so different in pronunciation?

  • 2
    Maybe because co- is just a prefix. So the actual pronounciation for operation should still be used. Dec 13, 2016 at 11:00

2 Answers 2


You will often see "cooperation" written as "co-operation", reflecting its origins as "operation" with the prefix "co-". This explains the pronunciation, which is just the sum of the pronunciation of the two parts.

As for the difference in pronunciation between words like "book", "boot" and "floor", there's a thread here that might help.


"Cooperative" is pronounced as if "co-operative" was still two separate words, but without any noticeable pause between them.

Some traditionalists spell "coöperative" with a special accent mark to indicate that the two consecutive "o"s have different pronunciations. (In this context, this "ö" does not indicate the sound of a German umlaut.) Most Americans are completely unfamiliar with this orthography.

When it is abbreviated to "Co-op" or "Coop", two pronunciations are common.

  • Most Americans pronounce "Co-op" as if it were spelled "coöp".

  • On the other hand, the "Harvard Cooperative Society" is the college bookstore chain that serves Harvard and MIT. In this context, "Cooperative" is pronounced as if it were spelled "Coöperative". In typical conversation, "The Coop" refers to either a store in the chain, or the whole chain. In this context, "Coop" is pronounced as a single syllable, just like "coop" in "chicken coop" or "cooper". Its "oo" sound can be found in "boot", not "foot".

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