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For example: "indisputably-accurate"; "the quickly-ran event"; "the truck-driving man"; "the under-slept woman"; "the power-possessing orb".

What is the term for the words that surround the hyphen?

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closed as not a real question by MετάEd, tchrist, J.R., StoneyB, Robusto Dec 1 '12 at 21:09

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Well, one word for what you have written there is WRONG. First, you never use a hyphen with an -ly adverb to connect it to its adjective. Second, the past participle of run is run, not ran. Third, the word is underslept without any hyphen at all. – tchrist Nov 29 '12 at 23:56
underslept isn't a word... – David Nov 29 '12 at 23:56
Nonsense! I have an OED and know how to use it: underˈslept, ppl. a. Etymology: under ¹ 10a: cf. undersleep vb. Having had insufficient sleep; suffering from or characterized by lack of sleep. §1943 Our Towns (Women’s Group on Public Welfare) ii. 23 ― It has become a commonplace to say that the town child is underslept. §1966 K. Amis Anti-Death League ɪɪɪ. 340 ― Lucy took an illustrated magazine to Churchill’s bed‐side, but she too was underslept, and in a few minutes she nodded off. §1981 P. Shea Voices & Sound of Drums ii. 14 ― A neglected, underslept appearance. – tchrist Nov 30 '12 at 0:04
Sorry, but it is a word: see the "Related Forms" section at the bottom. tchrist used it, and I would use it in the same way I'd use "overslept": "I overslept three hours this morning, so I was late to work" and "I underslept three hours this morning, so I'm wasted at the moment". – user21497 Nov 30 '12 at 0:04
@tchrist: "The vagrant was wakened by the traffic on the underslept highway bridge." – Mitch Nov 30 '12 at 18:46
up vote 2 down vote accepted

In the first two cases:

"indisputably-accurate" and "the quickly-ran event"

the only word is "incorrect". Never use a hyphen between an adverb of manner ending in /-ly/ and the word that follows. You can find that rule in any manual that explains how to use hyphens.

In the next two cases:

"the truck-driving man" and "the power-possessing orb"

the word is "hyphenated".

In the final case:

"the under-slept woman"

the word is "What does this mean?" Should this be "sleep-deprived"?

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I see you’ve deftly avoided the only-begotten son problem. :) – tchrist Nov 30 '12 at 0:06
I was trying to think off the top of my head. Didn't come out right as I can see now. – David Nov 30 '12 at 0:11
@tchrist: That may be one of those petrified expressions that cannot be changed because it's grandfathered in. Is it used anywhere other than Biblical commentary? – user21497 Nov 30 '12 at 0:14
@tchrist That hyphen is a vulgar modern intrusion - see here – StoneyB Nov 30 '12 at 0:19

The examples in which the hyphen is used appropriately are called compound adjectives (or compound modifiers). The hyphenated phrase serves to describe a noun. As everyone else has pointed out, don't use hyphens with -ly adverbs.

This term does not describe all hyphenated phrases, however. Test-drive is a transitive verb; pattern-seeking is a gerund.

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I found this at http://grammar.about.com/od/c/g/compadjterm.htm and thought it might be germane to the topic.

"Interestingly, hyphenation is also used creatively to indicate that an idea that would normally be expressed by a phrase is being treated as a single word for communicative purposes because it has crystallised in the writer's mind into a firm, single concept. Thus, for example, the expression simple to serve is normally a phrase, just like easy to control. But it can also be used as a hyphenated word as in simple-to-serve recipe dishes (M&S Magazine 1992: 9). . . .

"But for creative hyphenation you are unlikely to find anything more striking than this: [2.3] On Pitcairn there is little evidence of the what-we-have-we-hold, no-surrender, the Queen's-picture-in-every-room sort of attitude. (Simon Winchester in The Guardian magazine, 12 June 1993: 27; italic added to highlight the compounds)" (Francis Katamba, English Words: Structure, History, Usage, 2nd ed. Routledge, 2005)

"Adverbs that do not end in -ly may take the hyphen to form a compound adjective. The reason is obvious. A fast-moving script suggests a roller coaster plot while a fast moving script might have pace but it is emotionally charged (i.e., emotionally moving) at the same time." (Bruce Grundy, So You Want to be a Journalist? Cambridge University Press, 2007) Also Known As: phrasal adjective

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