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I am a uh, designer of websites, and I would like to use the phrase for my profession correctly. Unfortunately, webdesigner is flagged by Google Chrome's spellchecker as a misspelling, and web designer and web-designer are suggested as alternatives. Dictionary.com only suggests web designer, not even web-designer.

Is webdesigner a misspelling?

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Wiktionary also suggests web designer as an alternative: en.wiktionary.org/wiki/web_designer –  Kzqai Jun 21 '11 at 16:49
    
I'd say it's a straightforward typo. it's two words. –  Joe Blow Jun 21 '11 at 20:59
    
Why is it so important to you that your profession be a single word? –  slim Jan 24 '12 at 23:24
    
Well, for example, if you write webdesigner as one word, it won't be split across lines, whereas two words it will. But in general, I'll be damned if I'll just accept authority (in this case, dictionary authority) blindly, especially in an area where the authority presumably moves slower than the rapid fire evolution of the english language itself. shrugs –  Kzqai Jan 24 '12 at 23:47

3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

"Misspelling" is a fluid category in English, especially for compound words. In general there is a trend for such compounds to first be written with a space (web designer), then with a hyphen (web-designer), then as a single word (webdesigner), as each step in this progression indicates a tighter coupling between the parts of the compound.

In this particular case, your dictionary is telling you the truth. The term web designer is fairly new and still semantically transparent, so it's written as two words.

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The OP is just ahead of his time, that's all :) In a few years' time (if this question is still accessible online) I'm sure that people will wonder why he even had to ask! –  MT_Head Jun 21 '11 at 17:00
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I haven't noticed softwaredesigner or interactiondesigner showing up as single words yet, and those concepts have been around for longer. –  Monica Cellio Jun 21 '11 at 17:03
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@Monica Cellio: Also haven't seen "machineoperator" or "cardiacsurgeon" or "assistanttotheregionalmanager" either. ^)^ –  Robusto Jun 21 '11 at 18:29
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@MT_Head: kicking out hyphens cuts both ways. Fig-leaf is fig leaf now, hobby-horse is hobby horse; ice cream, pin money, pot belly, test tube have all been split. Language Log has some links. –  RegDwigнt Jun 21 '11 at 19:37
    
@MonicaCellio nor bridgedesigner or fabricdesigner. English speakers seem not to mind spaces as much as (say) Germany speakers. –  slim Jan 24 '12 at 23:22

Web designer is two words in English, but English is a Germanic language and so we frequently combine words into new compound words.

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Such words are obviously new and therefore subject to fairly rapid evolution, but in this case "webdesigner" has long been written as two words and would seem odd as one.

From the Oxford English Dictionary, Draft Partial Entry 2001

   Originally written with a capital initial, web compounds are now increasingly written with a lower-case w. Since it is difficult to make an objective judgement about the dominant capitalization in particular cases and the evidence is changing too rapidly for such a judgement to be of any lasting value to the reader, the compounds below have been routinely presented with a lower case w irrespective of the quotation evidence.The patterns of attachment are less inscrutable. The relative dominance of one-word, hyphenated, and two-word forms is in general governed by the status of the second element. Those compounds in which web is combined with a word occurring independently as a common noun are most frequently written as two words (web page, web site). Blends with parts of other words are typically rendered as one word (webliography, webzine). Hyphenation occurs most consistently where the second element is an adjective or is frequently found in compound formations (web-aware, web-based, web-enabled). a.a General attrib., as web access, web address, web design, web designer, web developer, web publisher, web publishing, web surfer, web surfing, etc.

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