I am in a bit of a quandary over conflicting results in dictionary entries about the inclusion of a hyphen in some of the words containing the pseudo- prefix.

An example of one of these words is pseudoscience/pseudo-science.

The Oxford dictionary's entry omits the hyphen for the word (i.e. they spell it as 'pseudoscience').

Meanwhile, Cambridge's dictionary entry decides to place a hyphen between the prefix and 'science' (i.e. they spell it as 'pseudo-science').

Another example would be pseudo-intellectual/pseudointellectual. Oxford includes the hyphen; Dictionary.com does not.

I usually check more than one dictionary to see if a word with this prefix should be hyphenated or not. However, I am not sure which form to use in this case. Is there a way of determining which one?

Any help is much appreciated.


There is no general rule for hyphenation when creating compound words.

When in doubt, I look it up. If still unsure, I use a hyphen, as I won't be penalised for it. If still looks wrong with a hyphen, leave the hyphen out.

(native speaker, UK. See author Lynn Truss for style guidance on hyphens!)

  • 1
    It would be good to include some quote from Truss. – marcellothearcane Aug 25 '19 at 7:16

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