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This post asked if ice cream was one word or two.

John Lawler's comment seems logical and accurate to me:

"Space: The Final Frontier. The answer to the question is "Yes". That is, some people consider it one word, and others two, so it is considered one word or two. Seriously, word is not well-enough defined to allow such precise counting."

J.R. also makes a great point:

"It depends on your definition of "word". For most situations, if a two-word phrase gets its own entry in the dictionary, then I regard it as a single word. But Scrabble players would disagree, and they'd all scream if I tried to play ICECREAM."

Lastly, JeffSahol makes another fine point with

"Here's a possible test: if it could be listed by the US Army in reverse order (as in "Sauce, Tomato"), then it's two words. Unfortunately, they don't put ice cream in MREs. :)"

Where/How can I find a list of all English words that contain more than one space, such as ice cream, (but not including phrases like tomato sauce)?

I have asked a question here before and it was closed and deleted for being off-topic, but it was very much on-topic and relevant. If this question also gets closed, I will lose all hope in this community.

  • If you agree that "word is not well enough defined to allow such precise counting", how would it be possible to distinguish 'ice cream' from 'tomato sauce'? – Tim Lymington Aug 4 '15 at 14:27
  • @TimLymington Since it's not well enough defined, then I defined it as I thought it best fit with everything I knew so far. Basically, if each of the words has a meaning on their own, and that meaning is changed when they are together, then that group of words can be considered one word, as in ice cream, since ice and cream both have meanings, but ice cream has its own meaning (at least it does NOW, but when the term began it might not have). With tomato sauce, tomato just describes sauce, and each of the words still mean the same thing that they meant separately. Did that make sense? – JLee Aug 4 '15 at 14:36
  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is requesting resources. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 8 '15 at 0:25
  • Though the request for a list of open compounds is off-topic, the question about the compositionality of compounds is fascinating (and complex). But arbitrarily deciding that 'tomato sauce' is two lexemes whereas 'ice cream' is one is not a good place to start. 'Blackbird' immediately shows how involved the topic is (some being black, others brown). – Edwin Ashworth Aug 8 '15 at 0:29
  • @EdwinAshworth If you look closely, the question never requests a list. I did not want a list. I wanted to know how I would go about finding a list. It is silly that this valid question would be closed. It shows a huge problem with the StackOverflow sites in general, not just this one. The question was answered well, and accepted, and no list was ever given. Put on hold as too broad is simply NOT TRUE. – JLee Aug 8 '15 at 11:59
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Words that function as one word but appear as two are called open compounds. They are one of three types of compound words, the other two of which are closed (e.g., pancake) and hyphenated (e.g., half-baked).

This document covers compound words extensively. This one gives several examples, such as living room, full moon, real estate, and coffee table.

For more examples, you may search online for open compounds.

Additionally, you may view this page, which will clarify the different types of compounds. Here are some examples from that page: blood pressure, light year, half sister, vice president. Bear in mind that some open compounds may be hyphenated or closed. That is typically a stylistic choice.

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    That first document is a great resource. But I have an issue with one of the examples under CW20: hard-and-fast-rule. Really? I understand hard-and-fast but why add a hyphen before rule? Hmmm. Maybe these aren't hard-and-fast-rules? (-: – Jim Mack Aug 1 '15 at 16:10
  • @JimMack Ooh, yeah. I have to admit I didn't scour those resources for quality. That's very funny, and a hyphenated compound one should (almost) never use. – Jake Regier Aug 2 '15 at 2:39

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