Is there a term for words that are built by combining other ordinary English words together?

For example:

  • catfish = cat + fish
  • firetruck = fire + truck
  • farmhouse = farm + house
  • birdcage = bird + cage

1 Answer 1


They’re called compound words.

According to Wikipedia:

Compounding occurs when two or more words or signs are joined to make one longer word or sign. The meaning of the compound may be similar to or different from the meaning of its components in isolation.

From Cambridge Dictionary:

Many compound nouns are written as one word, but some are written with hyphens or spaces. In modern English, hyphens are less common than they were in the past.

Examples of one word:

  • bathroom sheepdog windscreen

Examples of hyphens:

  • check-in fire-fighter son-in-law

Examples of spaces:

  • bottle opener New Year’s Day Prime Minister
  • 4
    @Ubihatt - What additional information are you looking for? There's a link to Wikipedia with the relevant parts copied into the body of the answer so it's not a link-only answer. Apr 9, 2019 at 2:07
  • 2
    @SomethingDark answer has to be written here. You simply can't provide a link.
    – Ubi.B
    Apr 9, 2019 at 2:11
  • 7
    @Ubihatt - the answer is written here. The correct term is "compound words." There is no additional information required. Apr 9, 2019 at 2:32
  • 2
    @Ubihatt - Please do not mistake my brevity for insult. I am fully aware of the guidelines for this site and believe this answer falls well within the guidelines laid out in the "Answer the question" section of the link you provided. The question specifically asks for the term for words that are built by combining other words. This term is called a "compound word," as the answer states. If you believe the answer can be improved, feel free to edit it. Apr 9, 2019 at 2:43
  • 3
    You should be voting to close the question rather than giving one line answers. Apr 9, 2019 at 6:23

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.