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Is there a term or classification for words (non-adjectives, for lack of a better classifier) that are combined with hyphens that serve the purpose of an adjective? For example, "run-of-the-mill applicant" or "less-than-ideal scenario." Are there any specific rules that dictate how these word groupings are handled?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

They are called compound adjectives. You will find an overview with some rules and examples on Wikipedia. Note that you should normally use hyphens ( - ), not dashes ( – or — ) in compound adjectives.

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Thanks for the direction and clarification. I feel terrible for having not known this already! – LucasTizma Jan 24 '11 at 22:47
@LucasTizma: Nah, don't worry: it is only a label and a convention. – Cerberus Jan 24 '11 at 23:17

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