[ hahy-fuhn ]
See synonyms for hyphen on Thesaurus.com
  1. 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)

Origin of hyphen

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

Other words from hyphen

  • hy·phen·ic [hahy-fen-ik], /haɪˈfɛn ɪk/, adjective
  • de·hy·phen, verb (used with object)
  • un·hy·phened, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use hyphen in a sentence

  • Inconsistencies in the author's spelling, punctuation, and use of hyphens have been retained as in the original book.

    The Homesteader | Oscar Micheaux
  • Words split across line breaks are shown with or without hyphens, as originally printed.

    Printers' Marks | William Roberts
  • The error of (arthmon) for (arithmon) is in the original, as are the repeated hyphens at line breaks.

    Printers' Marks | William Roberts
  • The word withdraw or withdraw was inconsistently hyphenated; it was left as printed, and line-end hyphens were retained.

  • Hyphens are sometimes used in cases like the following: "A never-to-be-forgotten event," "peace-at-any-rate principles."

    "Stops" | Paul Allardyce

British Dictionary definitions for hyphen


/ (ˈhaɪfən) /

  1. 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

  1. (tr) another word for hyphenate

Origin of hyphen

C17: from Late Latin (meaning: the combining of two words), from Greek huphen (adv) together, from hypo- + heis one

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

Cultural definitions for hyphen


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 New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.