Hyphens in Compound Words

Is it "coffee-house," "coffee house," or "coffeehouse"?

Mignon Fogarty
1-minute read

Hyphens in Compound Words

While looking up how to write "coffeehouse," I encountered a common problem: different dictionaries handle compound words differently and formatting can change over time.

It appears that it used to be hyphenated ("coffee-house"), but now it's most commonly written as a closed compound ("coffeehouse"). At least one dictionary entry also shows the open compound ("coffee house") as an acceptable alternative.

I decided to go with "coffeehouse." If you're not sure whether a word is an open compound, closed compound, or hyphenated compound, the only thing you can do is pick a dictionary and go with its recommendation.

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About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show. Her popular LinkedIn Learning courses help people write better to communicate better.