In reference to the word settle as it pertains to the specific definition:

Determine; decide on:

There is some debate internally on whether to use the word resettle which only has one definition:

Settle or cause to settle in a different place:

or to use a hyphenated word which seems most correct: re-settle

Since resettle doesn't seem to pertain to opposite meaning of my specific definition, I think the hyphenated form is correct. Can anyone shed some light on this situation?

  • Could you provide a sentence as an example of what you mean? I don't understand why resettle wouldn't work, as it literally means "to settle again." – Jake Regier Jul 22 '15 at 19:23
  • Looking at Sven Yargs' answer, there is only one word here, with two alternative spellings. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 22 '15 at 21:53

The fact that Oxford Dictionaries Online provides a single definition of resettle is quite misleading, since the word can actually be used in a number of senses. A better treatment of the word appears in the full Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (1985), which begins with this:

Resettle, v. Also re-settle. To settle again, in various senses.

In other words, any form of the word that conveys some sense of the idea "to settle again" can be rendered as resettle or as re-settle. The decision of whether to hyphenate or to close up the word is thus a matter of style preference—your own or your publisher's—and not connected to a generally understood difference in meaning (as might be the case with, say, recreation and re-creation).

In general, the tendency in U.S. English (and perhaps in British English, too) is to dispense with hyphens after prefixes like re- except in instances where a clear split in the meanings of hyphenated and unhyphenated forms exists. No such split exists here, notwithstanding the contrary inference you drew from Oxford Dictionaries Online.

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