hyphen (-)
Definition - The name for the - symbol.


1. Use it with compound adjectives.

far-fetched example
low-brow comment

2. Use it with compound numbers.

forty-seven and fifty-three

3. Use it to avoid confusion.

re-sign a petition (to avoid confusing it with resign, as in "resign from a job")

4. Use it with the prefix non except in cases where the prefix has become part of the word.

non-standard, non-American, non-verbal, non-stop
nondescript, nonage, nonentity, nonsense

5. Use it to avoid an awkward combinations of letters.


6. Use it with the prefixes self, all, and ex (meaning former).

self-possessed, all-inclusive, and ex-wife

7. Use it with the suffix elect.


8. Use it between a prefix and a capitalized word.

pre-Civil War, mid-October, and Afro-Canadian

9. Use it to separate a prefix or a suffix from a number.

mid-1980s and 60-ish

10. With abbreviations that use periods, retain the periods.

U.S.-owned machinery

11. Use them between the letters of a spelled word.

A native of Burnaby is a B-u-r-n-a-b-e-i-n-g.

12. Use hyphens with fractions only when the fraction is an adjective.

Three-quarters of all car dealers eat potato chips (bad — here three-quarters is a noun, so it doesn't need a hyphen)
Three quarters of all car dealers eat potato chips. (good)
A three-quarters majority ate potato chips. (good — here it is an adjective, so it gets a hyphen)

Etymology -
The word hyphen literally means "under one"; it derives from the Greek hypo, under + hen, one.

Oxford English Dictionary -
Its first citation is from 1603:
"He would have us to reade these two last words in one, by way of hyphen, thus."
(Holland Plutarch's Mor., 41)

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