Alex Massie

Save our hyphens!

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The OED is giving in to the Americans and the internet, abandoning the hyphen. Some 16,000 words in the new edition of the shorter OED have lost their hyphens.

Examples of words that now look wrong:

Formerly hyphenated words split in two:

fig leaf, hobby horse, ice cream, pin money, pot belly, test tube, water bed    

Formerly hyphenated words unified in one:

bumblebee, chickpea, crybaby, leapfrog, logjam, lowlife, pigeonhole, touchline, waterborne

Kevin Drum asks:

"Ice cream" used to be hyphenated?  Really?  Was this a British thing?  Even the New Yorker isn't pretentious enough to hyphenate "ice-cream," is it?

Well, maybe it is a British thing. But what's pretentious about a hyphen?

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

Topics in this articleSociety