30 Words That Don’t Need a Hyphen

For some reason, writers and editors love those little hyphens. They’ll put them just about anywhere, but most often in words that don’t need ‘em. Here are 30 words found on Yahoo! that have been split up with one (or sometimes two) of those horizontal characters. Maybe at one time these words were hyphenated, but they aren’t any more.

backstabbing
breakup (noun)
breathtaking
comeback (noun)
counterintuitive
downright
hobnob
latchkey
mainstream
midweek
nevertheless
newfound
nighttime
nonetheless
nonstop
overdo
overexpose
overpriced
overrated
oversized
postpartum
preteen
rendezvous
roundup (noun)
secondhand
sidekick
sightseeing
sourpuss
straightforward
woebegone

23 Responses to “30 Words That Don’t Need a Hyphen”

  1. Bettina Says:

    Hi, I’m a self-employed Aussie subeditor who used to work in a newsroom where I could turn to more experienced staff to ask their advice about my achilles heel: to hyphen or not to hyphen – compound adjectives vs the wordy title of an entity (ie a low-cost airline vs a courier truck fire, a relief teacher shortage). I never understood the crazy theory behind our use of “mental health nurses” but that was our style; we just loved those crazy nurses!!!!

    I’ve been missing my former colleagues’ support but now your’ve just answered my latest dilemma so your site has come in very handy! Thanks!

    PS I found a “whether or not” in one of your sections (I think it was the 30 words without hyphens!!!!) ;)

  2. Laura Says:

    Hi, Bettina! Welcome to Terribly Write. I’m glad I could and hope you’ll come back often.

  3. Robyn Says:

    Great website! What about coordinate/coordination/coordinator?

  4. To Hyphenate or Not to Hyphenate, That is the Question « Says:

    [...] 30 Words That Don’t Need a Hyphen – Terribly [...]

  5. To Hyphenate or Not to Hyphenate, That is the Question « Says:

    [...] 30 Words That Don’t Need a Hyphen – Terribly [...]

  6. huskylover Says:

    Love reading this site, I usually find out something interesting stuff.
    Emily R. from Husky Secrets

  7. ownsahi Says:

    cool site

  8. ceftekhar Says:

    This is good if you’re not working within the constraints of a style guide (some style books may disagree with your list). Thanks!

  9. sapphicscribe Says:

    Love this, some really useful info. Thanks. Saffy. http://sapphicscribe.wordpress.com

  10. grateful follower Says:

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  11. [author] Says:

    I seem to have forgotten all the rules for hyphenation. Sadly, it doesn’t really matter; anything goes and it’s accepted (but I won’t get into that). It seems there are no hard and fast rules regarding grammar and style. When I search the internet for answers, I usually have to decide what I see most often, because it seems impossible to determine what is “correct.”
    Thank you for your list.

  12. jannghi Says:

    Hi. Good post. Other rules of hyphenation that people don’t seem to know is not to hyphenate a compound adjectival phrase containing an adverb ending in “-ly” even when the phrase is in front of the noun. EX:
    newly furnished house
    But:
    tight-fitting jacket

    And prefixes need a hyphen when they’re used before a capital letter or to avoid confusion with other similarly spelled words written without a hyphen:
    re-cover–to cover again (“re-cover the sofa”)
    recover–to get back (“recover stolen goods”) or return to normal (“recover from illness”)

    un-American
    anti-Semite

  13. 14 emails Says:

    Great list. Great blog. I’m sending my middle-school English class to this site, so they realize that good writing really does matter.

  14. Wills Says:

    Even MS Word seems to have trouble with hyphenation… my copy wasn’t letting me use the word “breathtaking” without a hyphen!

  15. Hold that Hyphen! « Crave Writing Says:

    [...] wonder if a word requires a hyphen? Well thanks to TerriblyWrite, your-stress-over-hyphens-is-over! Visit this fellow WordPress blog today and eliminate unnecessary [...]

  16. 30 Words That Don’t Need a Hyphen « randomramsey Says:

    [...] more Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Tags: english, grammar, hyphen, writers Comments RSS feed [...]

  17. Kate McClare Says:

    The bigger problem is when people connect separate words with unnecessary hyphens. “Let’s go behind-the-scenes” is wrong. Why would you do that? Would you write “Let’s go behind-the-house”? Where you do need hyphens is “Let’s take a behind-the-scenes tour,” to clarify the modified noun.

    What really drives me buggy, though, are instances such as this “The 15-year old boy.” Why do so many people drop the second hyphen?

  18. The Grammar Belle Says:

    I have a coworker who always wants to “brain-storm.” Auuuuuugh! And yet I can’t get anyone to remember the hyphen in “20-minute meeting” or “test-drive.” I’ll keep fighting the good fight with ya!

  19. Neil Billings Says:

    Why does the word “misspelled” NOT have a hyphen???


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