I would like to ask if anyone knows what word-formation process takes place when we join two separate words (for instance 360 + flip) and create a word '360 flip' written separately, but used as a single noun (He did a beautiful 360 flip trick). I know that compounding means the joining of two separate words to produce a single form, but this is different because in my example we do not have one single form.

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    Possible duplicate of Compound noun or adjective + noun? Dec 27 '15 at 19:37
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    Why so you say that 360 flip is not "one single form"? Because there is a space character? That's just spelling, not language. If it works like a single word, it is a single word, nomatter how its spelled. Spelling is arbitrary and doesn't represent the real language; only a few parts of it. Dec 27 '15 at 19:51
  • Note that it is use, not spelling which defines such collocations as "single forms". Spelling usually flops around for a while before settling on a standard; see, for instance, ‹base ball› and ‹base-ball› before ‹baseball› was universally adopted. Dec 27 '15 at 19:54
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    Thank you very much for your help! Now everything is clear to me.
    – Pol
    Dec 27 '15 at 19:58
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    Rather than saying 360 flip is two words added together, you could say it's a shortening of 360° flip (i.e. - subtracting from the original spoken form three-hundred and sixty degree flip). Dec 27 '15 at 21:27

As far as I know, compound nouns can be spelled as one word (toothpaste), two words (vacuum cleaner) or with a hyphen (radio-controlled). Often there is more than one option. Therefore your example is in my opinion also a compound noun.

  • 'radio-controlled' is a compound adjective. Jul 13 '17 at 19:22
  • Thank you for pointing this out. You are right, of course.
    – Eva PS
    Jul 25 '17 at 11:14

Someone had to compose an answer, so I'll just give myself the honours. As all the commentators have said before, it is indeed compounding, spelling has nothing to do with it being treated as one lexical item. But if you pronounce it three sixty flip, that is also a shortening of three-hundred-sixty degrees flip.

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