5

I looked at the Cambridge and Oxford dictionaries online and they don't contain this word. But typing it into google takes me to the Merriam Webster definition. So does this just come down to taste?

The reason is that my computer programming team needs to establish a standard (in programming you write "subaccount" if it's one word, or "subAccount" if it's two words or hyphenated).

  • The term is variously written with as well as without the hyphen depending on the context. It is important to adhere to the practice followed in the relevant domain. USFDA: Sub-account; UChic.: subaccount; SEC: sub-account; Cornell: sub-account ... – Kris Dec 20 '13 at 13:53
  • In the identifiers used in computer programming, it’s best to replace spaces and hyphens with underscores for optimal legbility. So you would have a retirement_account, a body_count, a five_finger_discount, a count_palatine, rocket_launcher_count, a tank_count, a plane_count, an aircraft_carrier_count, a photon_torpedo_count, a bathysphere_count, a sub_count, a vice_count, and of course, a hoagie_count. NotHingishArderToreadTHanrunToGetHerWordswHereYouarEEXpecTinGsPacesBeTweenthEmthEwaYYouDoInRegularWrittenAndSmittenLanguageTextsYouaReusEdtoreAdinginBookSandSuch. – tchrist Dec 22 '13 at 2:01
  • Why the down vote? Whether something is a single word or not is a valid question. The OP's concern is understandable. – Kris Dec 22 '13 at 5:01
  • @tchrist See the sole criterion: "subaccount" if it's one word, or "subAccount" if it's two words or hyphenated. – Kris Dec 22 '13 at 5:01
  • @tchrist OK but then the question still remains - subaccount or sub_account. – Fletch Dec 22 '13 at 10:09
6

sub- is a derivational prefix, which means that it's generally thought of as attaching below the word level. Adding it to an existing word creates a new word. Compare words like subtotal or subspace. Would you say either of these is more than one word?

The difference here is that subtotal and subspace are established as lexical items, while subaccount is much less established. That is, fewer people are likely to have it in their mental dictionaries, so they'll have to understand it as a combination of sub- and account, and if they can't figure out the proper meaning based on that, someone will have to explain it to them. The reason you can't find it in those dictionaries is because it's less established, not because it consists of more than one word.

I'd say subaccount is a single word.

  • 3
    And that's the case, whether it's a hyphenated word or not. – Brad Dec 20 '13 at 12:31
  • @Brad "Regardless, it is never two words, always one, even if hyphenated." is what I said in my answer. – Kris Dec 22 '13 at 4:56
1

The term is variously written with as well as without the hyphen depending on the sub-domain.

It is important to adhere to the practice/ convention followed within the relevant sub-domain. Usage examples from USFDA: Sub-account; UChic.: subaccount; SEC: sub-account; Cornell: sub-account ...

Regardless, it is never two words, always one, even if hyphenated. Your option should be subaccount, not subAccount.

  • Well the domain is banking, where they are extremely familiar with the concept of an account and anything related :-). So combining that with the info in @snailboat's answer, I'd say it's one non-hyphenated word! Thanks. – Fletch Dec 21 '13 at 21:10
  • As I understand the question, this is to be used in a computer program. If the word is "subaccount" then in the program they would write subaccount, but if the word is "sub-account", then in the program they would write subAccount. – GEdgar Dec 21 '13 at 22:12
  • Rather, I meant the sub-domain, as clear from the examples cited (see edit). Within BFSI there's variation in convention. In any case, the essential question of its being one word is resolved. – Kris Dec 22 '13 at 4:59

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