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Difference between co-worker or coworker

co worker or coworker

In the exploration of language and its nuances, the terms co-worker and coworker often come up, especially in professional settings. These terms are used interchangeably to describe individuals who work together in the same organization or environment. The difference mainly lies in spelling: co-worker includes a hyphen, while coworker does not. This distinction can be attributed to variations in style guides and personal or organizational preferences.

Quick Facts Table

SpellingWith hyphenWithout hyphen
UsageOlder or more formal textsModern and informal texts
RecommendationVaries by style guideIncreasingly preferred
Dictionary InclusionIncluded in most dictionariesIncluded, reflecting common usage

Difference Between Co-worker and Coworker

Definition of Co-worker

Co-worker refers to a person who works with another in the same organization or on the same project. The use of the hyphen emphasizes the joint or cooperative nature of the work.

Definition of Coworker

Coworker, on the other hand, drops the hyphen but retains the same meaning: someone working alongside others in a shared professional environment. The absence of the hyphen reflects a trend towards simplification in language.

Origin of Co-worker

The term co-worker has been in use for a longer period, indicating its roots in a more formal era of English language usage. The hyphenated form follows older conventions of compound word formation.

Origin of Coworker

Coworker represents a linguistic evolution where the hyphen in compound nouns is increasingly dropped, especially in American English. This trend is part of a broader movement towards streamlined spelling and efficiency in language use.


Both co-worker and coworker are pronounced the same way: /ˈkoʊˌwɜrkər/, indicating that the presence or absence of the hyphen does not affect pronunciation.

Comparing Co-worker and Coworker

SpellingIncludes a hyphenOmits the hyphen
FormalitySeen as more formalConsidered less formal
PreferencePreferred in certain style guidesFavored in digital communication
EvolutionRepresents older conventionsReflects modern spelling trends

This comparison illustrates the slight but significant distinctions in usage and preference, highlighting the flexibility and dynamism of the English language.

Usage in Sentences with Explanations

Use of Co-worker in Sentences

  1. “I will consult with my co-worker about the project timeline.” – The hyphen emphasizes the collaborative aspect of the work.
  2. “She received a birthday card signed by all her co-workers.” – Here, the term suggests a formal relationship within a professional setting.
  3. “My co-worker and I are presenting at the conference.” – The hyphenated form maintains a traditional tone.
  4. “He shares an office with a co-worker who also happens to be a close friend.” – Indicates a professional relationship within a shared space.
  5. “Our co-workers are instrumental in creating a supportive work environment.” – Emphasizes the collective effort of colleagues.

Use of Coworker in Sentences

  1. “My coworker sent me the files I needed for the report.” – Reflects modern, informal communication.
  2. “We’re planning a surprise farewell party for a coworker.” – The absence of a hyphen makes the term appear more casual.
  3. “I learned a lot from observing my coworker handle the situation.” – Shows peer learning in a workplace.
  4. “Every coworker contributed to the project’s success.” – Highlights the collective achievement without formal distance.
  5. “She is not just a coworker; she’s a mentor and friend.” – Suggests a close, multifaceted relationship in the workplace.


While co-worker and coworker are essentially synonymous in meaning, their usage can reflect different stylistic choices or adherence to specific style guides. The evolution from co-worker to coworker demonstrates a broader trend towards simplification in English spelling and an embrace of more streamlined communication in professional contexts.

Commonly Asked Questions

  • Which is more correct, “co-worker” or “coworker”?
    • Both are correct; preference depends on style guides or personal choice.
  • Why do some people use the hyphen in “co-worker”?
    • The hyphen can reflect adherence to traditional spelling conventions or formal writing styles.
  • Is “coworker” accepted in formal writing?
    • Yes, “coworker” is widely accepted, including in many modern style guides.
  • Can the choice between “co-worker” and “coworker” affect the meaning of a sentence?
    • No, the choice does not change the meaning, only the stylistic presentation.
  • Has the use of “coworker” increased over time?
    • Yes, the use of “coworker” without a hyphen has become more common, reflecting broader linguistic trends.
Jessica Smith

Jessica Smith

Jessica Smith, writer at, blends creativity with insight, exploring technology, culture, and psychology. With a background in English Literature, she crafts engaging stories inspired by nature and urban life. Outside writing, she enjoys exploring and continuous learning.View Author posts

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