When using compound words, their mean can still be retained when "de-compounding" them in one of two ways.

The first way: bookstore = store of books

For this compound word, one just adds an "of" in between the two parts of the word which were compounded and the words still retain the original meaning, however, this doesn't apply to all words. And for that there is the second kind of "de-compounding" word.

The second way: racehorse = Horse for racing

For this second way, it wouldn't make sense to say horse of racing because the horse itself isn't made of racing.

What is the name of this kind of distinction and why is there this difference within language?

  • You misunderstand how compounds are formed. There's no committee that vets them, but it's simply the case that people often use the words together and thus find it convenient to begin treating them as a single word. – Hot Licks Apr 11 '16 at 20:15
  • There are other ways to distinguish compounds beyond just these two, and not just in English. – choster Apr 11 '16 at 21:35

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