Almost nothing can be said with finality about the hyphen. As Fowler says, "its infinite variety defies description." Even the word for using a hyphen is contentious: some authorities hyphenate words, but others hyphen them. The principal function of the hyphen is to reduce the chances of ambiguity. Consider, for instance, the distinction between "the twenty-odd members of his Cabinet" and "the twenty odd members of his Cabinet." It is sometimes used to indicate pronunciation (de-ice), but not always (coalesce, reissue). Composite adjectives used before a noun are usually given hyphens ("a six-foot-high wall," "a four-inch rainfall"), but again, not always. Fowler cites "a balance-of-payments deficit" and Gowers "a first-class ticket," but in expressions such as these, where the words are frequently linked, the hyphens are no more necessary than they would be in "a real estate transaction" or "a post-office strike." When the phrases are used adverbially, the use of hyphens is wrong, as here: "Mr. Conran, who will be fifty-years-old next month ..." (Sunday Times). Mr. Conran will be fifty years old next month; he will then be a fifty-year-old man.
   In general, hyphens should be dispensed with when they are not necessary. One place where they are not required by sense but frequently occur anyway is with -ly adverbs, as in newly-elected and widely-held. Almost every authority suggests that they should be deleted in such constructions.

Dictionary of troublesome word. . 2013.

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  • hyphen — hyphen, hyphenate, verbs. Both words mean ‘to spell (a word or phrase) with a hyphen’. This book uses hyphen, following the practice of the successive OED editors C. T. Onions and R. W. Burchfield, although hyphenate is more common in general… …   Modern English usage

  • hyphen — 1620s, from L.L. hyphen, from Gk. hyphen mark joining two syllables or words, probably indicating how they were to be sung, noun use of an adverb meaning together, in one, lit. under one, from hypo under (see SUB (Cf. sub )) + hen, neuter of heis …   Etymology dictionary

  • hyphen — [hī′fən] n. [LL < Gr hyphen (for hyph hen), a hyphen, lit., under one, together, in one < hypo , under + hen, neut. acc. of heis, one: for IE base see SAME] a mark ( ) used between the parts of a compound word or the syllables of a divided… …   English World dictionary

  • Hyphen — Hy phen, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Hyphened}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Hyphening}.] To connect with, or separate by, a hyphen, as two words or the parts of a word. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Hyphen — Hy phen (h[imac] f[e^]n), n. [L., fr. Gr. yfe n, fr. yf e n under one, into one, together, fr. ? under + ?, neut. of ? one. See {Hypo }.] (Print.) A mark or short dash, thus [ ], placed at the end of a line which terminates with a syllable of a… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Hyphen — (gr.), Figur, wenn zwei od. mehrere Wörter als ein einziges zusammengesetztes betrachtet werden, z.B. das Nach Hause Gehen …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Hyphen — (griech., »in eins [zusammen]«; auch ins Englische übergegangen, spr. hais n), die Zusammenziehung zweier Wörter zu einem Kompositum und das dabei gebräuchliche Bindezeichen ( ) …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Hyphén — (grch.), Zusammenziehung zweier Wörter zu einem Kompositum; auch das Bindezeichen ( ) …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • hyphen — ► NOUN ▪ the sign ( ) used to join words to indicate that they have a combined meaning or that they are grammatically linked, or to indicate word division at the end of a line. ORIGIN from Greek huphen together …   English terms dictionary

  • Hyphen — This article is about the punctuation mark. For other uses, see Hyphen (disambiguation). Hyphen Punctuation …   Wikipedia

  • hyphen — /ˈhaɪfən / (say huyfuhn) noun 1. a short stroke ( ) used to connect the parts of a compound word or the parts of a word divided for any purpose. –verb (t) 2. to hyphenate. {Late Latin, from Greek: name of sign, special use of hyphen (adverb)… …  

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