Coining a word: 'comital'

Earlier this fall, I wondered whether there was a word equivalent to “municipal,” but referring to counties.

The answer, it turned out, was no. People sometimes use “county” as an adjective, and “civic” and even “jurisdictional” were proposed as more generic alternatives. But there’s no direct equivalent to the adjective form of municipality.

It’s time for that to change. We don’t even have to get too creative to do it.

The word “county” comes from the Late Latin comitatus, which comes from the earlier Latin comitem/comes, per the invaluable Online Etymology Dictionary. That’s the same comitatus used in the legal phrase posse comitatus, which means “power of the county.” So the “of the county” party is right there for us.

There’s two choices for anglicizing that Latin. If you work from comitatus you could get “comitatal,” which has a nice ring to it but is also a mouthful. (The issue, I think, is it has the same number of syllables as “municipal” but more hard consonants.) But if we work from comitem/comes, we get “comital.”

That seems like a better option: comital (adj.): of or relating to a county or its government.

In fact, comital isn’t an entirely original coinage. It is a real, rare word — referring not to a county but to a count. Since “count” and “county” are of course etymologically siblings, this isn’t a problem except for my dreams of originality. This is a dictionary-approved word that we’re just updating in meaning: from “of or relating to a count” to “of or relating to a county.”

So one could speak of “the upcoming comital elections,” “the issue of comital bonds” or a “rising sense of comital pride.”

It would be pronounced differently than the similarly spelled “committal,” which has its emphasis on the middle syllable: \kə-ˈmi-təl. “Comital” would be pronounced with even stress between its three syllables, broken up so the latter two start with vowels and not consonants: \ˈkämətəl.

What do you think — is it worth trying to make this stick?

Updated with pronounciation.