What should be the correct spelling for "-wise" combinations in adverbial coinages like "sportswise," "weatherwise," "businesswise, "saleswise," "taxwise," etc.?

Should it be "NOUN wise," "NOUN-wise," or "NOUNwise"?

I'd instinctively go with the "NOUNwise" spelling but my spellchecker says it's wrong and suggests both "NOUN wise" and "NOUN-wise" as alternatives.


A suffixal use of wise in adverbs denoting manner, position, direction, reference, etc.: clockwise; edgewise; marketwise; timewise.

usage: The suffix -wise is old in the language in adverbs referring to manner, direction, etc.: crosswise; lengthwise. Coinages like marketwise, saleswise, and weatherwise are often criticized, perhaps because of their association with the news and entertainment media: Moneywise, as they were already saying in the motion-picture industry, Hollywood was at its peak. This suffix should not be confused with the adjective wise, which appears in such compounds as streetwise and worldly-wise. Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary

  • I can't cite any authoritative reference for this matter, but since this suffix is considered informal and people attach it to very different kinds of nouns (experience-wise, imagination-wise, ...) I think there should be a gap in between to denote that it's a deliberate addition and not a part of the word. And a 'space' gap is not a good idea too, because no suffix is written apart from the main word, and it might also be mistaken for the adjective wise.
    – Færd
    Feb 14 '16 at 10:18
  • 1
    You may have checked already, but no harm in quoting this (note the hyphenation): -wise: informal With respect to; concerning: security-wise, there are few problems. Usage: In modern English the suffix -wise is attached to nouns to form a sentence adverb meaning ‘concerning or with respect to’, as in confidence-wise, tax-wise, price-wise, time-wise, news-wise, and culture-wise. The suffix is very productive and widely used in modern English but most of the words so formed are considered inelegant or not good English style.
    – Færd
    Feb 14 '16 at 10:23
  • 1
    @Elian You didn't bother to check in a dictionary for the actual words, did you? I found "moneywise" and "timewise" straight away in the on-line Oxford.
    – BillJ
    Feb 14 '16 at 11:14
  • @BillJ "moneywise" and "timewise" are given here as mere examples to support my question. Even though these are spelled in one word in the ODO, they still are not recognized by my spellchecker when I type them in one word...
    – Elian
    Feb 14 '16 at 12:42

I found this here:

Two or more words that collectively act as an adjective should be hyphenated when they appear immediately before the noun they modify. This helps prevent misreading.

I know this had to be a comment but I don't have enough reputation to comment.

  • 2
    But "money-wise" doesn't appear before the noun it modifies. A better section to quote from the same page would be "Hyphenated compounds use hyphens between the words: eye-opener, check-in, free-for-all"
    – Yay
    Feb 14 '16 at 11:31
  • @Yay : Exact usage or an example in a sentence hasn't been specified by the OP. So, I guess, it can be one of the possible cases.
    – thokiro
    Feb 14 '16 at 12:03
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    I can't think of a single case where NOUN-wise works as an adjective. Except for a couple of collocations, the prefix -wise creates adverbs (see the second comment above), not adjectives that can appear immediately before a noun.
    – Yay
    Feb 14 '16 at 12:33
  • I think the quote is more of a suggestion and not a rule. Adjective might be one of the cases for hyphenation. Why should it mean that it is not applicable for adverbs?
    – thokiro
    Feb 14 '16 at 12:57
  • @thokiro I just made an edit to clarify. It's actually he adverbial usage I'm interested in. Thanks for your answer anyway. :-)
    – Elian
    Feb 14 '16 at 13:07

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