A hyphen is a symbol used to join two words or two syllables of a single word together. It is not to be confused with dashes or the minus symbol, as these are all longer than the hyphen and serve different purposes in language.

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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 ...
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Using the “ex” prefix on a multiple word subject

What is the proper way to use the "ex" prefix to more than one word? Examples: He is an ex-school bus driver. My ex baseball coach taught me. I am an ex-Fish and Game Warden. ...
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Hyphenation and capitalization of “Great-Uncle” when signing books to my nephew's son

When great-uncle is used as a common noun, the hyphen and lack of caps make sense. However, when I sign a book to my nephew, is it Great-Uncle Don, Great-uncle Don, or perhaps Great Uncle Don?
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adding a prefix “re” to a word, with or without a hyphen?

In science we often invent words, but that doesn't mean we know how to spell them. Most of the time words are invented by adding prefixes. In that case should there be a hyphen or not? Specifically, I ...
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Is it correct to write “a 5-mm-thick layer”?

Do I need hyphens? Should I use the indefinite article or zero article?
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Can there be a hyphen in “nonlinear”?

As the title says, I'm wondering if "non-linear" is an acceptable spelling of the word "nonlinear." A bit of research on this site turns up Is the use of a hyphen between "non" and an ...
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Meaning of “more original computer science”

If I write Knuth has written more original computer science than anybody else does it mean computer science that is more original or more computer science that is original? It seems like it ...
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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?
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How to use hyphens appropriately when listing multiple hyphenated terms?

If multiple hyphenated terms share the same latter half, and I wish to list them without repeating that latter half, how should the hyphens be placed? For example: I will be investigating control ...
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'well-organised' or 'well organised' - hyphenated?

Should I hyphenate the term 'well organised'? The context, if it matters, is the following sentence: For this role you should be well organised and analytical with some research ability. (I see ...
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Use of hypens with “auto”: autopopulate, auto-populate, or auto populate?

I've done a fair amount of research (like here), but I can't find any examples of hyphen rules with "auto". Microsoft Word doesn't take "autopopulate", but will accept either auto-populate or auto ...
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What is the origin of the rule for omitting the suffix of a hyphenated word?

I can't remember where or how, but I was taught that one can/should omit the post-hyphen (suffix?) part of a word if it is being grouped with another hyphenated word with the same post-hypen portion. ...
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Is it acceptable to use a single hyphen as a dash (as the BBC does)?

Is it acceptable to use a single hyphen as a dash (as the BBC does)? Example from BBC News: Venezuela - a major oil producer - has been heavily affected by the fall in oil prices on ...
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When describing something's colour, would you hyphenate the words? Eg, “blood-red” versus “royal blue”

Generally, as a rule, I always hyphenate words to make them into a single adjective, so I've been putting "blood-red", "forest-green", "royal-blue" and the like, but the moment I typed "royal-blue", ...
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Using hyphen to avoid repeating a word

In Finnish, 'linja-auto' is a bus, and 'rekka-auto' is a truck. If I were to write that I traveled with both I would write Matkustin linja- ja rekka-autolla. The sentence is equal to ...
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Is it makeup or make-up or make up?

If you take a makeup test, is it correct to call it a makeup, make up, or make-up test? I know that makeup is also what some people put on their faces to look different. I think that make-up is what ...
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730 views

What is the difference between `-` and `--` [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When should I use an em-dash, an en-dash, and a hyphen? Is there any difference between: - and -- or in some cases, a long dash I have seen these two used lots of ...
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30k views

“on time” vs. “on-time”

I'm in the "on-time" camp when it comes to describing, for example, delivering something by the deadline. Is this the correct usage?
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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 ...
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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?
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Which is correct, “on-line” or “online”?

I am still seeing uses of on-line, though I think it is incorrect. For example: A web browser enables a user to go on-line/online. Can you tell me which is the more appropriate to use, on-line ...
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Hyphens in verb construction containing prefix such as “re”

In semi-formal business writing in the United States, I often observe that writers tend to add a hyphen between a prefix and the root infinitive of verbs. In many of the cases, the resulting verb ...
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How to say “the project that we are working on” in a short phrase?

I want a short phrase for "the project that we are working on". Could it be "our working-on project"?
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Ways to write “2000 year old”

Which of the following are correct and which are wrong? The 2000-year-old computer The 2000 year-old computer The 2000 year old computer The 2000-years-old computer The 2000 years-old computer The ...
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Hyphenation of Japanese names

I'm typesetting an English book that contains the Japanese name Akiyama. Is it allowed to hyphenate romaji transcription of names (I truly hope so!)? If so, how do you do it? I would think it would be ...
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Hyphen or no hyphen when modifying an adjective with a quantity?

I have a sentence which has an object that is described with an adjective: We need to inform our interested patrons of this change. If I modify "interested" with "more" or "less", do I connect ...
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Pronunciation of “-” sign, particularly in Unix commands

While talking about commands for command-line interface, I sometimes need to pronounce how command should be typed, like this one: nc -l -p 1234 I used to pronounce - sign in this context as a ...
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Do I use timeslot or time slot or time-slot?

As in "the timeslot given to completing the task". Would also be interested to hear if there's different usages for different scenarios.
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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. ...
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Hyphenating “steady state” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When is it appropriate to use a hyphen? I am unsure if and when to hyphenate steady state (in a mathematical context), i.e.: We now calculate the steady-state ...
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1answer
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Age description and hyphenating

How would I say a toddler is 2 years and 7 months old correctly? Is this right: It is a two-year-seven-month-old toddler. Or do I need an “and” between? I personally think hyphenating here ...
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295 views

Hyphenating complex physical units

I have been reading about writing conventions for scholarly articles recently - specifically, physics - and have learned that when writing units, write them out if they are not associated with a ...
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Is a badly-written book a book [which has been] badly written?

This question is prompted by the earlier question Should I use a hyphen after -ly when modifying a verb in the past participle verb? Please don't close this as a dup unless there's a later answer ...
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Hyphenation of tidally enhanced wind mass loss

I am correcting my thesis on stellar evolution, and I was wondering what the correct hyphenation of 'tidally enhanced wind mass loss' is. The meaning of it should be mass loss originating from a wind, ...
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3 meter square area vs 3 square meter area

A. 3 meter square area B. 3 square meter area I’m wondering what the easiest way is to clearly express the difference between A and B above. In A, one side is 3 (meters). In B, one side is ...
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Does “cost-benefit ratio” use a hyphen or an en-dash?

Should I write "cost-benefit" (hyphen) or "cost–benefit" (en dash), and why?
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How does the hyphen change the meaning in expressions like “high performance” and “high-performance”?

I'm wondering about the distinction between expressions like "high performance" and "high-performance", or "high level" and "high-level" and other similar pairs of words which are sometimes used with ...
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336 views

Why do we hyphenate between numbers? Example: twenty-six

I have found many places that list the various rules on using hyphens in math, but nothing to explain why we have the rule. I have some students who are asking and I would like to be able to give ...
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Is it usual to use “full-cry” as a stand-alone adjective?

Maureen Dowd’s article titled “Spellbound by Blondes, Hot and Icy” appearing in December 1st NY-Times jumps from Alfred Hitchcock’s favor of blonde actresses to the dispute of Hillary Clinton’s ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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Hyphen in the noun 'switching-off'? Or gerunds of compound verbs, more generally?

I'm currently proof-reading my girlfriend's Ph.D. thesis (neither of us are native speakers) and I came across the following sentence snippet: "the switching-off induces eddy currents", and the word ...
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Is it normal to separate hyphenated words on different lines? [duplicate]

I'm typing in Microsoft Word, and it automatically separated the word T-shirt when it ran out of room: blah blah blah, Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, I have a T- shirt leaving just the letter "T" ...
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Does one hyphenate height when given in feet and inches?

In a work of fiction I'm writing, I'm using the colloquial phrase five-one to refer to someone's height. Should that be hyphenated as five-one, or should it just be written woth a space separating the ...
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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 ...
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Breaking last word in the lines [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What are the rules for splitting words at the end of a line? In printed texts, especially those with narrow columns, it's necessary from time to time to divide the last ...
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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 ...
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Other special hyphenation examples than eight-teen

According to The TeXbook [Don Knuth, 1984], solution to Exercise 14.8, the word eighteen should be hyphenated eight-teen. It is, indeed, standard practice in pre-reform German to contract triple ...
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A What-Do-You-Call-It question

In a book, there is this sentence: "My mom would have put this in her What-Have-You-Done-Now? File, but it was SOS to me." -p 19, The SOS File, Betsy Byars. Is there a name for this kind of ...
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Should I use a hyphen in the term “in(-)situ visualization”?

The term in(-)situ visualization denotes a visualization or graphics that is depicted in place, for instance, a sparkline that is embedded into text. As the dictionaries tell, the adjective or adverb ...