Balaclava is hyphenated as:

  • bal-a-cla-va, according to the online edition of Merriam-Webster
  • ba-la-clava, according to the 1989 printed fourth edition of Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, p. 77

Which one is correct in British English? If there is a difference with the American English, which one is correct in American English?

  • 2
    In your case both can start the new line that way. This is because both have the - after the "bala" part, regardless of its own division. :)
    – Alenanno
    Sep 12, 2011 at 9:13

1 Answer 1


The MacMillan Dictionary provides an audio file of both the British, and the American pronunciation.

In my opinion, the first hyphenation, the Merriam-Webster hyphenation is more of the American pronunciation style, whereas the British pronunciation is closer to the hyphenation style of the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary.

Thus, out of the two examples you gave, the second is correct UK-English, while the first is correct US-English.

  • I'm totally confused now. If you pronounce the first a in balaclava as a short a (/æ/ or /a/), like in pal, the hyphenation should be bal-a-cla-va. If you pronounce it like the a in father (/ɑː/) , it should be ba-la-cla-va. But the online Oxford dictionary (I don't have the 1989 printed Fourth edition) says it's a short a, contradicting their own hyphenation rules of 1989. Has the British pronunciation changed? The online Oxford dictionary now gives the online hyphenation as bala-clava, which covers all bases. Sep 12, 2011 at 13:12
  • The MacMillan dictionary says that the American and British pronunciations are the same (short a), and the only difference I hear is that one is pronounced with an American accent. Sep 12, 2011 at 13:16

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