What do you call words like one-note that are separated by a hyphen?


3 Answers 3


I would call them hyphenated compounds, as opposed to solid compounds and open compounds. Note how they are not dashed. That's because a hyphen (-) is not the same as a dash (–, —, ⁓, ‒).

Short compounds may be written in three different ways, which do not correspond to different pronunciations, however:

  • The "solid" or "closed" forms in which two usually moderately short words appear together as one. Solid compounds most likely consist of short (monosyllabic) units that often have been established in the language for a long time. Examples are housewife, lawsuit, wallpaper, etc.
  • The hyphenated form in which two or more words are connected by a hyphen. Compounds that contain affixes, such as house-build(er) and single-mind(ed)(ness), as well as adjective-adjective compounds and verb-verb compounds, such as blue-green and freeze-dried, are often hyphenated. Compounds that contain articles, prepositions or conjunctions, such as rent-a-cop, mother-of-pearl and salt-and-pepper, are also often hyphenated.
  • The open or spaced form consisting of newer combinations of usually longer words, such as distance learning, player piano, lawn tennis, etc.
  • 1
    This link would give you right.
    – Eldroß
    Commented Feb 23, 2011 at 10:35
  • Although the OP has accepted this answer, it does not quite answer the question as formulated. It sought the term for the words separated by the hyphen. On literal reading, that is a question about the components of a hyphenated compound, not about the compound as a whole.
    – jsw29
    Commented Apr 24, 2018 at 19:39

The “-” sign is not a dash, but a hyphen. Words that contain one or more hyphens are said to be hyphenated.

Dashes of various length are used in English writing: “–” is an en dash, and “—” is an em dash. Their names (en and em) are those of typographic units of measurements. The former is used in particular to separate dates in ranges (“Lee, Bruce (1941–73)”), and the latter is used to indicate a break of thought or an unfinished sentence.


I believe the term you are looking for is hyphenated words. Note that the hyphen and the dash (or, rather, dashes -- there are several of them) are different characters.

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