3

I have searched but cannot find a definite answer on the correct to write "touch screen". Merriam-Webster says touch screen. Oxford says touchscreen. And random people around the internet say "touch-screen".

What is the most correct and professional way to write touchscreen in the following sentence?

We recommend using your touchscreen device instead of a mouse to draw a silly face in the box below.

  • Usage evidence offered by Google Books shows that "touch screen" is the more common, but they are all used: books.google.com/ngrams/… – user66974 Oct 29 '15 at 6:00
2

I will be very surprised if touchscreen doesn't end up being closed up as one word (with no hyphen) in the vast majority of dictionaries within the next 25 years.

The Ngram chart for touch screen (blue line) versus touchscreen (red line) for the years 1970–2008 shows a persistent lead for the former, but that is before touchscreens on laptops became a standard feature:

(Note, however, that the results are artificially high for touch screen because—owing to a design decision in how to deal with hyphens—Ngram treats all instances of touch-screen as instances of touch screen.)

At the (U.S.) computer magazines where I have worked, our house style switched from touch screen to touchscreen at some point between 2005 and 2010, if I recall correctly. I'll check and see if I can nail the date down a bit more securely.

UPDATE: I found a word list from January 2009 that showed our computer magazines as still adhering to touch screen for the noun and touch-screen for the adjective at that date—but I'm sure that by 2012 we had shifted to touchscreen as house style.

|improve this answer|||||
  • Why not add "touch-screen" to your Ngram? – user66974 Oct 29 '15 at 6:04
  • 3
    @Josh61: Ngram can't distinguish between line-break hyphens and "hard" hyphens, so it can't plot hyphenated words. Instead, it defaults to treating them as separate words, which means that all instances of touch-screen in the Google Books database are added to the numbers for touch screen in the chart above. – Sven Yargs Oct 29 '15 at 6:09
  • Please have a look at my link. – user66974 Oct 29 '15 at 6:10
  • 2
    @Josh61: Yeah...what you have there is a line for "touch [minus] screen," which I have no idea how to interpret, but which doesn't yield any data points in the 'Search in Google Boooks' links beneath the graph. On the other hand, if you click one of the date links for touch screen there—say, '2004–2005'—you'll see instances of touch-screen listed as though they were matches for touch screen. Both hyphens and apostrophe freak out Ngram, so you just have to avoid asking for graphs of words and phrases that contain them. – Sven Yargs Oct 29 '15 at 6:18
  • What a disgusting, hygienically questionable, word. – Ricky Oct 29 '15 at 6:40

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.