Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Hyphens Eliminated

A discussion was generated recently based on this post about grammar, and I corrected the spelling of "nitpicking" to "nit-picking," at the suggestion of a commenter.

Update from NYTimes: The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, the scaled-down, two-volume version of the mammoth 20-volume O.E.D., just got a little shorter. With the dispatch of a waiter flicking away flyspecks, the editor, Angus Stevenson, eliminated some 16,000 hyphens from the 6th edition, published last month.

I'm not sure if the hyphen was elminated from "nit-picking," but chances are pretty good that it was one of the 16,000?....


At 10/18/2007 7:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think hyphens depend on the usage of the word(s). When used as an adjective, use the hyphen (e.g., "get your nit-picking hands off of me"). When used as a noun or a verb, you remove the hyphen (e.g.,” he is a nitpicker" or "the professor is nitpicking my paper apart").

I might be wrong, but that's how I treat many hyphenated words when I write, or when I proofread and edit other people's material.

At 10/18/2007 11:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Strunk and White, I believe Strunk's rule-of-thumb (just kidding) is to omit the hyphen as long as the words can stand alone.

At 10/18/2007 4:35 PM, Blogger . said...

"These are British hyphens, hyphens as unnecessary and uninteresting as they are un-American, hyphens that link adjectives to the nouns they modify. The Brits get all worried that you might think a dressing gown is a gown that is dressing, and so they write dressing-gown to make it clear that it's a gown of the dressing variety. We'd never write dressing-gown, and not only because we have the superior term bathrobe."

To read more, check out and scroll down to "Much A-do about No-thing," to enjoy a delightful read by Bill Walsh. Check out the great graphic, too.


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