English Edit

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Etymology Edit

From Late Latin, from Ancient Greek ὑφέν (huphén, together), contracted from ὑφ’ ἕν (huph’ hén, under one), from ὑπό (hupó, under) + ἕν (hén, one), neuter of εἷς (heîs, one).

Pronunciation Edit

Noun Edit

hyphen (plural hyphens)

  1. The symbol "", typically used to join two or more words to form a compound term, or to indicate that a word has been split at the end of a line.
    • 2021, Claire Cock-Starkey, Hyphens & Hashtags, Bodleian Library, page 56:
      As the proud owner of my very own hyphen in a lovingly crafted surname, I have an especial soft spot for this most confusing of punctuation marks.
  2. (figurative) Something that links two more consequential things.
  3. An enclosed walkway or passage that connects two buildings.
    • 1997, Peter Beney, The Majesty of Colonial Williamsburg, page 156:
      The hyphens were added, joining the structures into one building, which now measures just over two hundred feet long.
    • 2010, Mary L. Kwas, A Pictorial History of Arkansas's Old State House:
      Construction details for the hyphens, or "connecting wings" as they were called by the contractors, were included in the contractors' specifications, as follows:
    • 2012, James M Cain, The Cocktail Waitress:
      Those were the “hyphens,” the passageways that connected the wings of the mansion to its center.
  4. Someone who belongs to a marginalized subgroup, and can therefore described by a hyphenated term, such as "German-American", "female-academic", etc.
    • 1916, The American Monthly - Volume 3, page 221:
      Tab has been kept on quite a number of members who rapturously applauded when that part of the message in which the hyphens were attacked was read by the President.
    • 2004, Bonnie G. Smith, Beth Hutchison, Gendering Disability, page 61:
      Sign language interpreters fascinate me because their cultural space, "working the hyphens" as Michelle Fine (1994) would call it, and performing in the kind of hybrid third space that Homi Bhabha (1994) has written about resonates often with my own "hard-of-hearing" doubly hyphenated existence in both deaf and hearing worlds.
    • 2013, Kevin O’Keefe, A Thousand Deadlines:
      A leading Republican paper also had, on the eve of the convention, focused attention on this issue by remarking that Hughes was “designated by the Hyphens as their agent to punish Mr. Wilson for his partial refusal to comply with Potsdam orders.

Usage notes Edit

Because the original symbol "-" (technically the hyphen-minus) covered usages aside from hyphenation there have been additional subsequent symbols created for hyphenation needs. They include the "" (hyphen), (non-breaking hyphen) and the non-visible soft hyphen.

Derived terms Edit

Translations Edit

Verb Edit

hyphen (third-person singular simple present hyphens, present participle hyphening, simple past and past participle hyphened)

  1. (transitive, dated) To separate or punctuate with a hyphen; to hyphenate.

Conjunction Edit


  1. Used to emphasize the coordinating function usually indicated by the punctuation "-".
    • 1945, Robert Gessner, Youth is the time:
      You are sitting at the wrong table, if I may be so bold, among the misguided who believe in the mass murder of mentalities, otherwise known as the liberal arts hyphen vocational training hyphen education.
    • 1950, Cleveland Amory, Home town:
      Ax was now a Hollywood hyphenated man. An actor hyphen director hyphen writer.
    • 1983, Linda Crawford, Vanishing acts:
      He described himself as a poet-composer and actually said the word hyphen when he did so: "I'm a poet hyphen composer.
    • 1983, David S. Reiss, M*A*S*H: the exclusive, inside story of TV's most popular show:
      He is an actor (hyphen) writer (hyphen) director. In the fifth year of the series Alan Alda added another title to his growing list — that of creative consultant.
    • 2007, Stephen M. Murphy, What If Holden Caulfield Went to Law School?, page 65:
      One reason he has avoided reading legal thrillers is that “they seem really to have been written by lawyer-hyphen-authors.”

Synonyms Edit

See also Edit


Further reading Edit

French Edit

Pronunciation Edit

Noun Edit

hyphen m (plural hyphens)

  1. Old symbol with the shape of a curved stroke, formerly used in French instead of the modern hyphen, with the same function