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When talking about "layoffs", what is the proper way to write it?

When referring to it as a noun, is it "lay off", "layoff", or "lay-off"?

What about when using it as a verb in both present and past tense?

  • Hello, artuhfakt. It is desired that questions on ELU be accompanied by evidence of a reasonable attempt to carry out one's own research, especially when the research would appear so readily available, as here. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 18 '15 at 19:00
  • I suspect that "layoff" has become the most common variant in the US. Probably 30 years ago "lay-off" was more popular. But when you get to past tense, "laid off" would be my choice, and for an adjective, "laid-off". – Hot Licks Jan 18 '15 at 20:01
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When referring to it as a noun, is it "lay off", "layoff", or "lay-off"?

All three are found and are correct.

Layoff seems to be the most popular if we compare plurals to help restrict the cases to noun uses.

What about when using it as a verb in both present and past tense?

A space would be much more common here. In particular the phrase is split for an object, as in "the company laid half its staff off".

To complete the set, you could find both space and hyphen used with an adjectival use ("the union lodged a complaint on behalf of the laid-off workers") but hyphen is probably most common, and certainly clear.

  • I don't know why I bother. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 18 '15 at 19:15
  • @EdwinAshworth shrug it seemed to me from the question that they'd found all three in use and that was where they were got stuck in wondering what to do. – Jon Hanna Jan 18 '15 at 19:25
  • That's exactly what happened, as I'm doing research for a paper and came across several different uses. – abroad-and-away Jan 18 '15 at 20:51
  • From Meta: Answers to general reference [/no sign of OP research] questions ‘I think the issue here is whether to accommodate 'trivial' questions that can be adequately answered with LMGTFY or another simple link. – FumbleFingers // ‘If we accept the axiom that trivial questions are bad for the site, then the proper response to a general reference question is: 1.Don't answer! 2… [Vote] to close. The point is not to encourage trivial questions. If you post an answer or vote up an existing answer, you're implicitly encouraging more questions like it.’ –Martha – Edwin Ashworth Jan 18 '15 at 22:36
  • @EdwinAshworth While not the most interesting question, I don't think it's a LMGTFY, but maybe that's just a google-fu failure on my part. – Jon Hanna Jan 18 '15 at 22:47

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