While reading a book, I noticed prejudice was hyphenated to the next line in the following form: prej-udice. As I found it quite strange, I searched online for its syllables and apparently it had its syllables as prej-u-dice, so the book was not wrong about the hyphenation. But still, my heart strongly suggested that pre-ju-dice would be a more intuitive way to syllable the word.

Notice that the following words are partly similar but syllabled differently:

  • Conjugation(con-ju-ga-tion)
  • Perjury(per-ju-ry)

I wonder what makes prejudice so different from those words that it has j separated from u in the syllables?

As suggested in the comments, I'm adding the reference to the hyphenation in question:

  • The exact location is the 6th line from the bottom of page 176 of Justice (ISBN 978-0-374-53250-5);
  • Reference image
    The original link to Google Books seemed to only work in my country, so I'm posting the search result image instead.
  • 5
    In your heart do your pronounce it starting with “pree-“ or “predge”? I say “predge” ...
    – Jim
    May 6, 2021 at 6:05
  • 2
    I say prĕ rather than prē but I'd never hyphenate it as prej-udice. Imagine having "prej-" at the end of a line and "udice" on the next. Really difficult to make sense of. It would be really helpful to say where you found this and how many other resources you checked.
    – Andrew Leach
    May 6, 2021 at 7:12
  • @AndrewLeach, I see. I always thought the syllables matter when it comes to hyphenation. Anyways, the line is from the 6th line from the bottom of page 176 of Justice. books.google.com/…
    – hjjg200
    May 6, 2021 at 8:00
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    Of course, the actual text isn't available at your link. I'd guess it's just extremely poor printing (where a possible exception to a rule hasn't been taken into account).
    – Andrew Leach
    May 6, 2021 at 8:13
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    As a side note, prej- at the end of a line gives you a much better clue to what follows than pre-. As somebody who voices internally when reading, this is a definite bonus -- I don't have to backtrack and change my internal pronunciation from /priː/ to /prɛ/.
    – TonyK
    May 6, 2021 at 22:03

2 Answers 2


Prejudice is syllabified as /ˈprɛd͡ʒ.ə.dəs/ and not */ˈprɛ.d͡ʒə.dəs/ because the lax vowel /ɛ/ doesn't occur at the end of syllables in English and therefore it should have a coda—a consonant after it (see Maximal Onset Principle).

Also according to John Wells' syllabification, ‘consonants are syllabified with the more strongly stressed of two flanking syllables’. The first syllable in prejudice has primary stress on it, so the /d͡ʒ/ is syllabified with that syllable, giving /ˈprɛd͡ʒ.ə.dəs/.

Merriam-Webster and American Heritage Dictionary give:

prej·u·diced, prej·u·dic·ing, prej·u·dic·es

So yes, it should be hyphenated prej·​u·​dice.

  • 2
    Should it be hyphenated that way as well? I would say etymology holds the trump card there.
    – Andrew Leach
    May 6, 2021 at 7:13
  • 3
    @AndrewLeach If you let etymology hold the trump card w.r.t. hyphenation, then you get hyphenations like helico-/pter, photo-/graphy and thermo-/meter.
    – Rosie F
    May 6, 2021 at 13:34
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    @RosieF I did say there, and it may be an exception which proves the rule; although your last two hyphenations don't seem bad to me.
    – Andrew Leach
    May 6, 2021 at 13:43
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    "/ɛ/ doesn't occur at the end of syllables in English". "Meh" begs to differ :)
    – chepner
    May 6, 2021 at 14:54
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    But you can't hyphenate "Meh" so that is irrelevant :)
    – alephzero
    May 6, 2021 at 14:56

The first syllable is prej because the e is a short vowel and needs the j to close the syllable. If is did not have the j, the e would say long e.

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