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On Aug 8, 2007, at 12:33 PM, Mark J. Reed wrote:
> A quick scan through /usr/dict/words, leaving out compounds with
> -frost, -most. -post and so on, finds 14 -ost words, exactly split 7-7
> between short and long O:

I keep thinking there's a word I know of that ends in -most but which  
doesn't actually come from compounding with the word most, but I  
can't seem to think what it is. (As I recall, it originally ended in - 
mest, which consisted of the final -m of the root and the superlative  
morpheme -est, but was later remodeled by analogy to <most>.)

>
> Short O:
> accost
> cost
> frost
> lost
> Pentecost
> provost
> teleost

I've always heard <provost> with a long O. The AHD, at least, shows  
that as the majority pronunciation, followed by one with /@/, but  
none with a "short O". But YMMV.

>
> Long O:
> almost
> compost
> ghost
> host
> impost
> most
> post
>
> The words accost, Pentecost, and almost might be pronounced by analogy
> with -cost and -most, but aren't really compounds of them.  Compost
> and impost are etymologically related to post but, again, not
> compounds.
>
>
> -- 
> Mark J. Reed <[log in to unmask]>