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

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58
votes
9answers
8k 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?
23
votes
5answers
1k 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: ...
21
votes
5answers
1k 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 ...
21
votes
4answers
14k 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 ...
15
votes
4answers
932 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 ...
13
votes
4answers
912 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, ...
13
votes
3answers
4k 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?
12
votes
4answers
8k 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
254 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 ...
10
votes
5answers
855 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 ...
9
votes
4answers
14k 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?
9
votes
4answers
11k 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 ...
8
votes
4answers
670 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
2answers
310 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
3k 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
3answers
2k 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
2answers
1k 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
752 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
518 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
15k 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
694 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
308 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 ...
6
votes
4answers
7k 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.
6
votes
5answers
3k 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
1answer
319 views

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

Why does eighteen not have two tees like roommate has two ems?
6
votes
3answers
216 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
952 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
3answers
920 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
6answers
521 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
2answers
630 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
3answers
161 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
828 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
3answers
3k 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?
4
votes
3answers
1k 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
255 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
145 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
116 views

Multiple hyphens make this phrase feel unwieldy… but are they right?

I'm writing a paper in which I refer to "natural-language-controlled robots" about thirty times. I'm curious about this phrase's hyphenation. I would write robots controlled by natural language ...
4
votes
1answer
1k views

Confusion over “family name” in English: What about double-barrelled last names? [closed]

How do you fill out an official form in English that asks for just one last name when you instead have a surname which comprises more than one word? I currently live in a Latin country, where we ...
4
votes
1answer
414 views

Hyphenation or blending

Are there any rules when to write a set of two (or more) words or abbreviations forming a name of some entity as separate, when to hyphenate, and when to stick them together? These are my findings ...
4
votes
2answers
553 views

Compound adjectives functioning as adverbs modifying other adjectives; is it possible and grammatical?

Soul-crushingly bad; heartbreakingly sad; bone-crunchingly violent; etc. I swear I have seen it done, but I am not sure whether it's proper grammar or not. Thanks!
3
votes
3answers
899 views

Correct use of “wake up”

English isn't my native language (Spanish is), so this question may be very basic, but it is worse not to ask. Which of these two phrases is the correct one? I'm trying to wake and get up from ...
3
votes
2answers
162 views

“file name” or “name of the file”?

Which is version is correct? filename or file name helped me a little, but didn't answer my questions, please see below. program <filename> - where <filename> is the file name you want ...
3
votes
4answers
867 views

Use of hyphens when writing repeated compound words that have common parts

In my native language, Norwegian, one uses hyphens when stating two or more copulated compound words that has common parts (words). In a thesis I'm working on, should I write test specimens, test ...
3
votes
1answer
635 views

Multiple compound words [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How to connect a word and a phrase with a dash? Hello, I'm a non-native English speaker and I'm writing a scientific paper about biometric identification based on heart ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

“One-Day Only Promotion” or “One-Day-Only Promotion”

A copywriter I'm working with wrote "One-Day Only Promotion" but my feeling is that "One-Day-Only Promotion" is correct. The first three words describe 'Promotion'. I know you don't hyphenate adverbs, ...
3
votes
2answers
70 views

“Four window layout” or “four windows layout”

To indicate a multiple object layout should I use four building layout or four buildings layout? Maybe they are both correct?
3
votes
1answer
211 views

Do you read the 'c' in 'kc'?

For example: clickcub clickcube clickcrab clickcrate clickcone In which of those cases do you read the 'c' and not?
3
votes
2answers
109 views

How to form a word to represent “drawing quote ideas”?

I'm a graphic designer. I have a project at hand in which I want to draw the underlying concepts in famous quotes. I want to name this project, and I thought of something similar to "quote-drawing". ...
3
votes
2answers
218 views

What's the logic behind adjectives constructed with a hyphen?

I'll give you a lovecraftian stanza: Thro’ the ghoul-guarded gateways of slumber, Past the wan-moon’d abysses of night, I have liv’d o’er my lives without number, I have sounded all things ...
3
votes
5answers
597 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?