My understanding is that "whack-a-mole" as a compound noun should not be hyphenated, although if it were a compound adjective, such as "whack-a-mole-type game", the hyphens would be appropriate. Is this correct, or is it appropriate to hyphenate a compound noun in some cases?

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    It's a coined name, so you use the way they coined it when naming the game. It's not a normal phrase.
    – Barmar
    Jun 23 at 2:17
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    Missed opportunity for a real fight between wards and guards since English borrowed both versions of division of w/gu. Is there really no game of guac-a-mole?
    – livresque
    Jun 23 at 4:06
  • Some compound nouns use hyphens, some use spaces, some have no division. They are particularly used when compound nouns involve prepositions or particles, but it depends on various factors, not least who owns the trademark. Are you going to claim that "father-in-law" is wrong? Good luck getting lexicographers to agree with that!
    – Stuart F
    Jun 23 at 10:33
  • Father-in-law is a great example of a hyphenated compound noun. Thanks very much for pointing that out, Stuart.
    – PProteus
    Jun 24 at 12:02

1 Answer 1


Yes, it is correct. Several dictionaries support this:



  • 2
    Please don't endorse questions where obvious research by OP will provide their own answer. Jun 23 at 9:38
  • Thanks, Edwin, you're a real hero. I know it's in the dictionary; my question is, is it correct.
    – PProteus
    Jun 24 at 12:01

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