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 hyphenated phrase-as-title? Thank you in advance!

  • Compound adjective hyphenation, or multiple word hyphenation? – Sc0ttyD Dec 11 '14 at 20:06
  • 2
    Phrasal adjective: When a phrasal adjective precedes a noun, it usually takes a hyphen or, for phrases of three or more words, hyphens. – FumbleFingers Dec 11 '14 at 20:25
  • +1 for the self-referential title. :) When I first saw the question, I was going to complain that the title was too generic. – Barmar Dec 12 '14 at 2:07
  • @FumbleFingers That should be made into an answer – Jim Dec 12 '14 at 18:56
  • @Jim: Except I don't know if there's such a thing as a phrasal adjective that doesn't precede a noun (because it comes after the noun?). Nor do I know the terminology for distinguishing the two types (if indeed there are two). – FumbleFingers Dec 12 '14 at 20:44

The generic name is placeholder name.

However, in computer science, the term is metasyntactic variable, and through the wide spread of modern "hacker" and computer cultures, metasyntactic variable has taken on the role of placeholder name in some corners of the Internet.

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