Questions about words that are created by combining two or more other words together.

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72
votes
9answers
22k views

“Username”, “user name” or “user-name”

In computer science, you should have a username or a user name or a user-name and a password to be able to log into the system. Which one is the correct spelling?
45
votes
4answers
29k views

Is it “front-end”, “frontend”, or “front end”?

Possible Duplicate: When to use a hyphen in writing a compound word Which is correct? front-end engineering frontend engineering front end engineering I looked over ...
24
votes
7answers
3k views

Is a lengthy combination of words with hyphens like “the worst not-technically-in-a-recession year in American history” a new fashion of writing?

I found a hyphenated word , “not-technically–in-a-recession” in the sentence of September 28 New York Times’ article titled “Why Obama Is Winning,” written by co-ed columnist, Ross Douthat. It reads: ...
22
votes
5answers
2k views

Words that are pluralized in the middle?

This is purely a curiosity, but I'm fascinated by mid-word pluralization, even if the word in question is a compound word. For example, passersby or standersby. No others have occurred to me. Can ...
18
votes
3answers
7k views

“Time zone” vs. “Timezone”

My spell checker shows that both "time zone" and "timezone" are correctly spelled. Which one of these is the correct one to use?
17
votes
12answers
2k views

An Exocentric compound for Children

I have written a story for children in Persian. Somewhere in the story, I have mentioned "pear". "Pear" In Farsi is gool-abbi, which translates literally as "blue flower". I have mentioned that as ...
16
votes
4answers
15k views

Should I use “ related” or “-related”

What is the correct use of the term "related?" For example, should I use it like computer related, or is it more proper to use computer-related (where the word "computer" is just part of my ...
15
votes
4answers
1k views

Obscenities considered less obscene in compounds? [NSFW]

There are at least a few cases in which a compound word or phrase, transparently containing an obscene word, seems to be considered less obscene (in some dialect/registers/circumstances) than the word ...
14
votes
4answers
25k views

“Real time”, “real-time” or “realtime”

Which of real time, real-time and realtime is correct when you are talking about seeing something as it happens?
13
votes
5answers
1k views

Why is “wavelength” one word when “wave height” isn't?

Why is “wavelength” one word when “wave height” isn't? As another example, wave speed is two words. But wavelength is only one word. What is the reason for this? In Swedish and other contructs, ...
12
votes
3answers
461 views

Term for words like Snowmageddon, Nipplegate and even cheeseburger?

Is there a term for words like Snowmageddon, Nipplegate and even cheeseburger? I know they're portmanteaus (or portmanteaux), but they seem to belong to a special class of portmanteau. In the title ...
11
votes
8answers
888 views

What does the “shed” in “watershed” mean?

It seems like a kind of house; if it is, I cannot grasp the meaning of watershed.
11
votes
4answers
22k views

Life cycle, life-cycle or lifecycle?

I notice great variability in how this concept is expressed. Does the term vary depending on the context? Should one use one variation when discussing biology, for example, and another when talking ...
10
votes
5answers
2k views

In English you have 'above', 'on', 'over' and 'on top of' but in Italian one word, 'sopra', covers all four meanings

In Italian if I were to say, "sopra l'albero" (albero = tree) you might rightly ask: "Yes but where, exactly?" But "sopra" is a great word to learn in Italian, not only is it a very flexible ...
10
votes
3answers
412 views

What part-of-speech would a vehicle's year/make/model be?

Suppose I were to say this sentence: "I own a 2003 Ford F-150." Would 2003 Ford F-150 be a compound proper noun? Would Ford F-150 be a compound proper noun and 2003 be an adjective? Would F-150 be ...
8
votes
2answers
404 views

Chainsaw-equipped or chainsaw equipped?

Is it chainsaw-equipped or chainsaw equipped? And with what kind of former words to use "-" properly?
8
votes
5answers
6k views

Adjective pluralization

A 16-year-old girl. She is 16 years old. I've read somewhere that the reason the year in the first example is singular is that it functions as an adjective, and adjectives can't be ...
8
votes
4answers
935 views

Killer Queen. The usage of noun sequences of length two and more. Ambiguity of nouns phrases in English

I have a question about nouns triplets like "sofa box container" and I'll formulate it at the end. I have some reasoning and I want to make sure I'm correct. First of all consider the following ...
8
votes
3answers
24k views

Timepoint vs. time point

When speaking of a point in time, what would be the proper usage: "Timepoint" vs. "Time point"? This funny confusion comes from my life as a programmer: While one of our style checkers enforces ...
8
votes
3answers
4k views

What is the difference between “onetime” and “one time”?

I was reading a book that had a sentence containing this: ...onetime commissioner of New York...
8
votes
4answers
12k views

Is it timespan or time span?

I'm speaking of the noun having to do with an interval of time. I need this for programming purposes and it appears some people use "time span" and others "timespan" so I assume both are correct.
8
votes
2answers
6k views

Is the term “ice cream” considered one word or two?

My question is a little broader than the title and applies to a term which is described by more than one "word". Is the term (in this case "ice cream") one word, or two? Based on my research, the ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

Why are some words combined into a single word while others stay as two words?

Examples: Anyone Anything Anytime Anywhere Everyone Everything Every time Everywhere No one Nothing No time Nowhere Someone Something Sometime Somewhere Why is there a discrepancy? Is there any ...
7
votes
4answers
987 views

Why is “rollback it” incorrect?

I recently wrote the following sentence: Please roll it back. But if I were to describe the action on its own I would say: This rollback was due to objections by the original author. If I ...
7
votes
3answers
12k views

“Home page” or “homepage”? [closed]

Is there a convention for the spelling of the name of the main page of a website? Should it be home page, with a space between the two words; or homepage, all one word?
7
votes
1answer
13k views

“Firstname” or “First Name”?

In filling out forms, I'm starting to see a lot of this: Firstname: xx Lastname: yy Is it generally acceptable to join the words like that? Or should we be sticking to: First Name: ...
7
votes
2answers
4k views

Why the “meat” in “sweetmeat”?

This has always confused me. Dictionary.com doesn't help at all. Candy and meat just don't go together that well.
7
votes
4answers
2k views

Compound Adjectives and -ed

A colleague asked me this question, and I couldn't come up with an answer that satisfied him, so I'm wondering if anyone can help: Why does a man with a short temper become a short-tempered man? In ...
7
votes
4answers
17k views

Do I keep myself “up-to-date” or “up to date” on something?

Question is quite straightforward. I want to say that "I keep myself up-to-date on the latest technology". Or is it better "I keep myself up to date with the latest technology"? Thanks
7
votes
1answer
432 views

How compound words “eighteen” and “roommate” are built

Why does eighteen not have two tees like roommate has two ems?
6
votes
5answers
5k views

Compound words: what real compound word is composed of most words?

I was looking at this question about the word albeit and it got me thinking... what is the most compound, non-hyphenated, real word in English? Strictly speaking, albeit might not be counted as a ...
6
votes
2answers
42 views

what is the technical word for a “de-compounded” phrase

I am curious as to what the technical term for "de-compounding" a word is. For example, if I were to change the word "bookstore," and change it into the phrase, "store of books," what would that ...
6
votes
1answer
9k views

Plural of feedback

I'm looking for a way to identify a specific amount of feedback items I'm visualizing in a list. The construction of the sentence needs to be generic, so I can't use something like Feedback received ...
6
votes
3answers
331 views

Is there a word for selecting yourself as the target audience for an invention or product?

Let me explain this with an example. An inventor faces a problem, he decides to develop a solution for it. Initially, he is the main target audience for his invention. I was wondering if there was an ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

Why do we call snail mail “snail mail”?

Why do we call snail mail "snail mail"? So by default mail will refer to email?
5
votes
1answer
444 views

How to hyphenate a negated compound noun?

We have a term for a process, "defect source assessment". We want to describe a set of processes that are not related to that process. Which of the following (if any) would be correct? non ...
5
votes
3answers
2k views

Is there a grammar rule behind the hyphen in the phrase 'one-act play'?

I noticed that the phrase 'one-act play' always uses a hyphen between 'one' and 'act'. Is there a grammar rule in play here, how does it work?
5
votes
5answers
1k views

“Hostname” or “host name”?

When we are talking about computers, I see both hostname and host name being used. Which is more proper? Should I put the space in there?
5
votes
2answers
3k views

Which is right: “drop-down” or “drop down”?

What is the proper way to write this term when writing product documentation? Hyphenated or not? drop down list or drop-down list?
5
votes
7answers
998 views

Why is it “materials science” instead of “material science”?

Does anyone know how the "s" at the end of "materials" in "materials science" came about? It seems like "material science" would be equivalent, and is more natural to say aloud. For comparison with a ...
5
votes
3answers
196 views

How should one properly construct compound nationalities?

Chinese American or American Chinese? Indian Briton or British Indian? In practice, I've come across both forms and I would love to know whether this is a matter of personal preference or whether ...
5
votes
2answers
6k views

Noun + participle as adjective phrase

There's a construction in English that allows us to form a compound adjective from a noun and a past participle. Examples: This is a volunteer-built home. Our newspaper is student-run. ...
5
votes
5answers
174 views

Is “missing person” considered a compound noun?

In the phrase missing person, is the whole phrase a compound noun or would missing be considered an adjective that modifies person? It seems like in many situations when it is used with other ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

Why are certain single word compound nouns pluralized in the middle

Hypothesis: compound nouns that are unhyphenated single words can be pluralized by adding an “s” to the noun root only when they consist of a noun + preposition. This is a follow-up to an earlier ...
4
votes
4answers
739 views

How to write dashes in “a 2-4-room-apartment”?

I want to write in the announcement a description of an eventual apartment, which I am searching as a rental. I am interested in apartments with 2, 3, or 4 rooms. How should I write the compound ...
4
votes
4answers
2k views

What is the difference between a “prefix” and a “combining form”?

According to ODO, mini- is classified as a combining form. How exactly is this different from a prefix (or an affix, in general)? Can combining forms also be prefixes?
4
votes
2answers
339 views

Are there rules for constructing portmanteaux?

Lewis Carroll popularized the use and creation of (what may be considered to be) a special form of compound or conjoined words. I propose that these are different than other compound words (e.g., per ...
4
votes
2answers
243 views

“Pay-for” vs. “for-pay”

Is pay-for or for-pay the correct word? For example, which of these two sentences is correct? This is a pay-for product. This is a for-pay product.
4
votes
3answers
172 views

What is the combining form of 'Christian?'

I recently heard the term 'Judeo-Christian' which caused a thought to strike me. I don't know how to switch the order of the classical compound (word). What is the combining form of 'Christian?' ...
4
votes
3answers
387 views

Parsing of a compound noun with many words

How should I understand this phrase: "threat analysis model", which means: An analysis model of threat, or put in parentheses: (threat(analysis model) A model of threat analysis: (threat analysis ...