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[hahy-fuh n] /ˈhaɪ fən/
a short line (-) used to connect the parts of a compound word or the parts of a word divided for any purpose.
verb (used with object)
1595-1605; < Late Latin < Greek hyphén (adv.) together, derivative of hyph' hén (prepositional phrase), equivalent to hyp(ó) under (see hypo-) + hén, neuter of heîs one
Related forms
[hahy-fen-ik] /haɪˈfɛn ɪk/ (Show IPA),
dehyphen, verb (used with object)
unhyphened, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for hyphen
  • Why your correspondent thought the term needs a hyphen is beyond me.
  • Game-changing may one day go the way of those, hyphen and all.
  • The new hyphen-filled motor is an air-cooled, fuel-injected three-valve four-stroke.
  • Now that the hyphen has moved eastwards they are much happier.
  • Avoid dividing words with a hyphen at the end of a line, especially in unjustified text.
  • The prefix is determined by the municipality followed by a hyphen.
  • It can stand alone without a hyphen to modify a noun but is frequently joined with the following noun: midday, midsize.
  • Ontogenetic or geographic variation in the number of tooth rows is indicated with a hyphen.
  • Use the hyphen to hyphenate two words in a compound adjective or words with a hyphenated prefix.
  • hyphenated names should be entered first with the hyphen and then on another row as an alias with a space, replacing the hyphen.
British Dictionary definitions for hyphen


the punctuation mark (-), used to separate the parts of some compound words, to link the words of a phrase, and between syllables of a word split between two consecutive lines of writing or printing
(transitive) another word for hyphenate
Word Origin
C17: from Late Latin (meaning: the combining of two words), from Greek huphen (adv) together, from hypo- + heis one


(transitive) to separate (syllables, words, etc) with a hyphen
Derived Forms
hyphenation, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for hyphen

1620s, from Late Latin hyphen, from Greek hyphen "mark joining two syllables or words," probably indicating how they were to be sung, noun use of an adverb meaning "together, in one," literally "under one," from hypo "under" (see sub-) + hen, neuter of heis "one."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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hyphen in Culture

hyphen definition

A punctuation mark (-) used in some compound words, such as self-motivation, seventy-five, and mother-in-law. A hyphen is also used to divide a word at the end of a line of type. Hyphens may appear only between syllables. Thus com-pound is properly hyphenated, but compo-und is not.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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