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.

breakup (noun)
comeback (noun)
roundup (noun)


34 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:

    i am regularly bouncing all around the net most of the night as a result I possess a tendency to peruse a good deal, which unfortunately is not always a good thing as some of the internet resources I visit are composed of useless nonsense copied from several other sites a zillion times, nonetheless I gotta say this site is definitely half decent and also contains some authentic information, therefore cheers for helping to stop the trend of exactly copying other peoples’ blogs and forums 🙂

  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
    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”)


  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???

  20. James McOmber Says:

    I would add that these words are also in no need of a SPACE. Something I’m noticing more and more is people – even those educated at Ivy Leagues – not only leaving hyphens out where they need to be (a shark like smile), but injecting single words with spaces (“what ever”, “swim suit”, “heart break”, and I have seen “Face book”). That’s been moving in the direction of de rigueur for years and it drives me a littler ber serk.

    • Laura Says:

      I think you’re right about spaces appearing in words more often now. I hadn’t seen it as a trend until you noted it, but I do see lots of instances every day on Yahoo. I think it’s part of an overall (or is it “over all”?) trend to ignore established rules of grammar, spelling, etc. in favor of speed and expediency.

      • meganreddawayMegan Says:

        This one may be caused by phones and similar devices with autofill. People start to type ‘heartbreak’ and the phone suggests ‘heart’. They accept it, then add ‘break’, but the phone considers ‘heart’ a complete word and puts a space after it.

    • v1cr Says:

      You must be a ber-serk-er. (See what I did there?)

  21. Jessica Says:

    Quick question: should it be onboarding or on-boarding? I can’t seem to find any info on the web stating which way is correct.

    • Laura Says:

      According to the American Heritage Dictionary, it’s onboarding, without the hyphen. The Random House Dictionary prefers onboarding, though on-boarding is acceptable.

  22. Jane Says:

    How about free-will offering? We use it a lot in our church bulletins.

  23. The Write Right Guide | 8 Grammar Basics | MEGAN RUESINK Says:

    […] 7. 30 Words That Don’t Need Hyphens: Hi, I’m Megan, and I’m a hypen- addict. […]

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