1

Is there a universally agreed upon way to refer to the corner of a sidewalk? My fingers immediately went to 'streetcorner,' as a compound word, but very few spellcheckers acknowledge this spelling. Merriam-Webster only lists 'street corner,' which would seem to be the end of it, except Wikipedia herself (which I thought had standards for this type of thing) uses "Streetcorner" as the name of the related page, and then both 'street corner' and 'street-corner' throughout. Indeed, while Google searching, only an aggressive quoting strategy will get me anything searched except 'street corner,' but both 'street-corner' and 'streetcorner' will occasionally pop up in autofill suggestions.

So are 'street-corner' or 'streetcorner' correct? 'Street-corner' feels like something only my hyphen-happy brother would use, but I don't know anything any more. And does any of this change when I use it as an adjective, like 'street corner proselytizer,' 'street-corner philosopher' or Rob Thomas's 'Streetcorner Symphony?'

2

The Google Ngram shows street corner appearing far more often than either street-corner or streetcorner in both its British and American corpora.

Google Ngram showing "street corner" is far more popular than "street-corner" or "streetcorner"

If you look at the sample texts, streetcorner seems to appear as an attributive in more recent use, probably to reduce ambiguity:

  • The social world of the streetcorner seller…
  • At about this time, another streetcorner aggregation, the Voicemasters, was coming into contact with Berry Gordy…
  • During coffee breaks, these streetcorner preachers were willing to talk about a wide variety of subjects…

For another comparison, in the News on the Web Corpus, there are 35 entries for streetcorner, including a few that are names, but 3280 for street corner.

1

Generally, as "street" and "corner" are two separate words, no hyphen or lack of space would be required.

It's the corner of the street, thus it is the "street corner". If it were something called a "streetcorner", it would be a "streetcorner". In theory, "streetcorner" can be used instead, but syntaxically only "street corner" makes sense.

"Street-corner" is like a freak misfit; the hyphen implies a single idea, but mostly you would write "street corner" in a similar place as well.

On the subject of Wikipedia, due to being written by multiple individuals who write the subject in different ways, all three uses are likely to be seen in one article.

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.