I was reading an article in The New York Times published in 1990 and came across the spelling of teenager as 'teen-ager'; is this American spelling? Archaic?

The young man, who often said he only wanted to be treated like an ordinary teen-ager, had a date for the senior prom, and friends said he was looking forward to the dance.


The hyphenated form may be more popular in the US than in the UK. The British National Corpus has 2 records for teen-ager and 822 for teenager, whereas the figures in the Corpus of Contemporary American English are 1069 and 5824. Nevertheless, this nGram shows that overall the latter started to outdistance the former dramatically from about 1970.

  • 3
    The unhyphenated version is by far more common in written US English today, as well. I think the New York Times example is indicative of a copyediting quirk more than anything. – user13141 Dec 1 '13 at 15:51

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.