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I'm writing about a web framework. Integral part of it is its lifecycle. Apparently (as for example my browser tells me), this is not the correct spelling. I should either use life cycle or life-cycle. Google Ngram confirms this. And I also had a look at Life cycle, life-cycle or lifecycle? and When should compound words be written as one word, with hyphens, or with spaces?.

However the specification uses exclusively lifecycle. It may be the short form of some kind of proper name Request Processing Lifecycle. But then again it uses the spelling lifecycle in a different context, like this: "A human readable string describing where this particular JSF application is in the software development lifecycle.". So I'm not sure about the "proper name".

But since the specification uses the spelling lifecycle, and I'm writing partly about the lifecycle defined by this specification, should I also use this spelling? Should I only using this spelling when I'm writing about this specific lifecycle and use life cycle when writing in a different context? Or should I always use life cycle?

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Lifecycle is perfectly correct, it's just not the most common form of the compound.

Normally that can leave one unsure which form to choose. Here though you don't have that problem since one of the perfectly correct forms is favoured by the very thing you are writing about. So use that, unless you've some great personal loathing of the form.

If you do decide to change to a different from, then in quoting the specification you should keep it's wording, and particularly if the word is given any technical meaning (e.g. used as a keyword to a computer program, etc.).

  • In a technical specification, consistency is key. I would add to this answer that you should only use an alternate form if you intend to change all occurrences of the term in the spec. – HalosGhost Jan 16 '15 at 16:04
  • @HalosGhost it's reasonable to use a different form to a specification when writing about a specification. I've added a note though on not changing forms if quoting. – Jon Hanna Jan 16 '15 at 16:13
  • Ahh, I misread the OP. I commented under the impression that the OP was modifying/adding to the spec. Yes, what you have is perfect! – HalosGhost Jan 16 '15 at 16:14
  • @HalosGhost though we get complicated cases where one spec has a relationship to another spec; many database specs for example choose to use the plural schemas but they also reference the SQL/Schemata standard, which as the name suggests uses schemata. As a result one finds oneself coming across cases where one has to use both in particular cases, no matter which plural one personally prefers. – Jon Hanna Jan 16 '15 at 16:22
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    The typical progression is from separate words, to hyphenated, to compound word. In the computer technology field, this transition has been faster than in the outside world. Even so, "lifecycle" has recently eclipsed "life-cycle". Eventually it will eclipse "life cycle" . – Brian Hitchcock Jan 17 '15 at 10:54

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