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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).



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.
  2. (figuratively) Something that links two more consequential things.

Usage notesEdit

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 termsEdit



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.

Proper nounEdit


  1. (colloquial) Used to refer to a person with a hyphenated name



  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.”


See alsoEdit





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.