from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A punctuation mark ( - ) used between the parts of a compound word or name or between the syllables of a word, especially when divided at the end of a line of text.
  • transitive verb To hyphenate.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The symbol +, = plus.
  • In paleography, a curve placed below the line so as to unite the parts of a compound word, and to indicate that they are not to be separated or read as distinct words: as, —that is, διόσκουροι, not Διο\ς κου%26ροι; —that is, περικλέονς, not πεπι\ κλέους —that is, antevolans, not ante volans, etc.
  • In writing and printing, a short line (-) used to connect two words or elements: namely, to connect two words which are so used as properly to form a compound word; to join syllables which are for any purpose arbitrarily separated, as in regular syllabication (as in el-e-men-tal), at the end of a line to connect the syllables of a divided word (as in the third line of this paragraph), to indicate the pronunciation (as in the respellings for the pronunciations in this dictionary), and to indicate or separate the etymological parts of a word, stem, affixes, etc., often without regard to the syllables (as in element-al, intro-duct-ion, su-spic-ious).
  • To join by a hyphen, as two words, so as to form a compound word. Also hyphenize, hyphenate.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To connect with, or separate by, a hyphen, as two words or the parts of a word.
  • noun (Print.) A mark or short dash, thus [-], placed at the end of a line which terminates with a syllable of a word, the remainder of which is carried to the next line; or between the parts of many a compound word; as in fine-leaved, clear-headed. It is also sometimes used to separate the syllables of words.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun 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.
  • noun figuratively Something that links two more consequential things.
  • verb transitive, dated To separate or punctuate with a hyphen; to hyphenate.
  • proper noun colloquial Used to refer to a person with a hyphenated name
  • conjunction Used to emphasize the coordinating function usually indicated by the punctuation "-".

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a punctuation mark (-) used between parts of a compound word or between the syllables of a word when the word is divided at the end of a line of text
  • verb divide or connect with a hyphen


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Late Latin, from Greek huphen, a sign indicating a compound or two words which are to be read as one, from huph' hen, in one : hupo, under; see hypo– + hen, neuter of heis, one; see sem- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Late Latin, from Ancient Greek ὑφέν (hyphen, "together"), contracted from ὑφ' ἕν (hyph' hen, "under one"), from ὑπό (hypo, "under") + ἕν (hen, "one"), neuter of εἷς (heis, "one").


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  • This is used to join words together (e.g. well-being), or indicate where a word is broken at the end of a line. Cf em dash and en dash.

    more info.

    December 9, 2007

  • "'As I said in my speech': I told him, 'your new middle name would consist of a noun, the name of a flower or fruit or nut or vegetable or legume, or a bird or a reptile or a fish, or a mollusk, or a gem or a mineral or a chemical element -- connected by a hyphen to a number between one and twenty.' I asked him what his name was at the present time.

    'Elmer Glenville Grasso,' he said.

    'Well,' I said, 'you might become Elmer Uranium-3 Grasso, say. Everybody with Uranium as a part of their middle name would be your cousin.'

    'That brings me back to my first question,' he said, 'What if I get some artificial relative I absolutely can't stand?'"

    - 'Slapstick', Kurt Vonnegut.

    March 24, 2008

  • If you take hyphens seriously, you will surely go mad.

    —Oxford style guide

    June 19, 2009

  • Someone told me today that bad Underscores become Hyphens.

    That's not true is it?

    Is it?

    I'm not bad.

    I'm really not.

    I promise.

    December 1, 2009

  • Well, I for one don't think you need to worry. You're only a PossibleUnderscore anyway. :-)

    December 2, 2009

  • *scream*

    December 2, 2009

  • *hands PossU a conciliatory cupcake*

    December 2, 2009

  • Thank you.

    *eats cake from underneath, licks icing, eats the rest: the only way to eat a cupcake*

    December 2, 2009

  • Because you're an Underscore? ;->

    December 3, 2009

  • oh.

    *feels small*

    But at least I'm Possible!

    *waves flag of bemusement*

    December 3, 2009

  • Oh, I wasn't trying to ensmallen you! I was merely asking if Underscores always eat food beginning at the underneath, you see.

    Which would make twirling spaghetti a bit difficult, come to think of it....

    December 3, 2009

  • Heh, I see. We do. And ! always eat their food shouting. It's terribly noisy, not to mention messy. Eating spaghetti is an experience always accompanied by many strange glances in my general direction.

    I also have a habit of eating half a sandwich, then opening it up and eating the inside but that leaves me with plain bread which is very annoying. Surely you understand??

    December 3, 2009

  • I imagine that, for an underscore, the experience of becoming a hyphen would be very uplifting.

    December 3, 2009

  • That's what everyone says, but really it's quite ensmalling.

    __ to -.

    December 3, 2009

  • Of course I understand! I think....Anyway, if it weren't for that dad-blasted gravity thing, you wouldn't have a problem with the mess.

    December 4, 2009

  • Exactly right! I'm glad you see. I'm still trying to find a way to Defy Gravity Elphaba style.

    December 5, 2009

  • We all have a dream. :-)

    December 6, 2009

  • I think PossibleUnderscore is becoming increasingly probable.

    December 6, 2009

  • Hyphens are the little sprinkles we add to ice-cream.

    December 23, 2009

  • how with hyphen i cooked chicken like make ice-cream bkg i like chicken not ice

    December 23, 2009

  • Actually, now that I look at them on the screen, I think underscores look more like sprinkles: __ vs. -.

    Once again, PossibleUnderscore is responsible for joy and mirth.

    *Hands PossibleUnderscore a cupcake with rainbow sprinkles*

    December 23, 2009

  • Why thank you, I'm touched. Sprinkles remind of fairies.


    Do you know, fairy bread isn't on the menu for the Christmas dinner this year???

    *cue gasps of horror*

    December 24, 2009

  • Underscores look more like jimmies to me.

    December 24, 2009

  • If you think about the etymology, and the rest, this should really be hyp-hen.

    August 13, 2020