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I have a hyphenation problem. I thought I understood the rule of when to insert a hyphen, but it's a term used so inconsistently I can't be sure. For for the sake of this question, I will write the word hyphenated even though I am not entirely sure. The word is:

micro-endoscope

I see it written as:

  • micro-endoscope (which I favour because micro is a qualifier that is pertinent to describing what kind of endoscope it is)
  • microendoscope (then again this could be valid, because micrometer isn't hyphenated, and micro is still a qualifier...)
  • micro endoscope (I personally doubt this is correct)

And most frustratingly, I see all three used even in a single paper, which to me is sloppy. Unless there a grammatical use rule I am missing that describes when a word like this is hyphenated...

  • my understanding is that you add the hyphen in scenarios like this if it improves readability. I'd hyphenate this one because a reader might blur the vowels together – Slepz Jul 20 '16 at 20:51
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    The first port of call when checking spellings is a reasonable dictionary. 'Microendoscope' occurs as a solid compound in YourDictionary. And Nature uses 'microendoscopy'. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 20 '16 at 21:55
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A Google Ngram shows that there is no incidence of either "micro-endoscope" or "micro endoscope," but "microendoscope" is used with prevalence. Therefore, it would appear that "microendoscope" is the proper way to write it. The appearance of the other two spellings in the paper to which you refer appear to be typos or errors in editing.

Incidentally, without a hyphen is consistent with how the prefix "micro-" generally appears (e.g., microeconomics, microbiology, microcosm, micromanage, etc.).

  • Neat, I've never seen this tool before. In optics and clinical literature (albeit only journals) "micro-endoscope" is very commonly used, so I don't know that I trust this tool implicitly. I'm not disputing that this Ngram tool might be picking out more authoritative sources, and be returning the correct answer. It's just returning 0 doesn't make sense when I have book chapters and articles that use it with the hyphen. – EngBIRD Jul 20 '16 at 22:48
  • The Ngram only searches books published on Google Books. There are millions of books published, but not books Google hasn't got rights to, so there'll be books that it doesn't search. If you click the link at the bottom, you can see what books and where in them the word "micorendoscope" was used. You can see if they were medical books, fictional books, or whatever. For example, if you found it in a Grey's Anatomy, you might be more convinced, but if you found it in a romance novel, that might be less convincing. I always look up the sources, and there are plenty of medical sources. – Benjamin Harman Jul 21 '16 at 18:57

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