What is the correct word, plugin or plug-in? Does it depend on the context?

4 Answers 4


As others have mentioned, most dictionaries (including the OED) list plug-in as appropriate. I'd seriously shy away from calling plugin incorrect—I mean, just look how many hits you can get with Firefox and plugin. In my experience, especially with computer programs and on the Internet, plugin is much more common than plug-in. Taking a descriptivist standpoint, I'd put my weight behind plugin.

  • 6
    Yes. I think it's a common phenomenon that hyphens eventually get dropped when a word becomes more commonplace. Compare with electronic mail -> e-mail -> email (nowadays perfectly acceptable form).
    – Jonik
    Aug 22, 2010 at 20:03

The correct word is plug-in.

Every dictionary I can find plus wikipedia all state the word being "plug-in" while a few do mention they are sometimes called "plugins", that just seems to be in incorrect usage.


I would post more links but my rep will not allow me.

And if you also want to know the act of plugging something in it would be "I am going to plug in the lamp."

  • 2
    The verb is to plug in, similarly to to log in. The noun derived from to log in is login; that is why I was wondering if it was plugin. Thank you for your reply.
    – apaderno
    Aug 21, 2010 at 8:24
  • 5
    It should be said, though, that online is now accepted, while in the olden days it was insisted by the prescriptivists that it should be on-line.
    – Timwi
    Aug 23, 2010 at 1:36
  • 2
    Dictionaries run behind common usage Jan 12, 2018 at 4:52

Theoretically plug-in is the correct one, but practically both are widely used. (Mozilla, for example, calls them plugins.)

  • Thank you for your reply. Could it be that plugins is used for the plural, and plug-in for the singular?
    – apaderno
    Aug 21, 2010 at 9:57
  • Nah, I don't think so.
    – user706
    Aug 22, 2010 at 20:43

I'm sure "plugin" is the wave of the future (like "email"). I'm a tech writer and I'm trying to decide which spelling to use in documentation. My copy of the "Microsoft Manual of Style" has "plug-in" with a hyphen but it's a bit out of date (10 years old, to be precise). I'll probably go with "plugin" since that's the way our developers spell it.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

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