hy·​phen | \ ˈhī-fən \

Definition of hyphen

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a punctuation mark - used especially to divide or to compound words, word elements, or numbers


hyphened; hyphening; hyphens

Definition of hyphen (Entry 2 of 2)

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Other Words from hyphen


hyphenless \ ˈhī-​fən-​ləs \ adjective

Examples of hyphen in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Under the law, small errors like a space or hyphen between names could be used to discount a ballot. Isabella Gomez, Teen Vogue, "2018 Midterms: Allegations of Voter Suppression Arise in Georgia’s Governor’s Race," 7 Nov. 2018 The bank’s vendor-screening system failed to identify the customers, the Treasury said, noting that the system had failed to connect customer names that had hyphens, initials or additional detail as potential matches to names on the sanctions list. Samuel Rubenfeld, WSJ, "JPMorgan Chase Settles Allegations It Violated U.S. Sanctions," 5 Oct. 2018 That company was Micro-Soft, which shed its hyphen the following year. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "Paul Allen—Microsoft co-founder, Seahawks owner, and space pioneer—dies at 65," 16 Oct. 2018 Don’t spell Japanese-American with that hyphen, brother. Gilbert Garcia, San Antonio Express-News, "SBOE debate highlights the cynical stigma of the hyphen," 16 June 2018 For Mexican Americans, the hyphen — as defined by Theodore Roosevelt and a century’s worth of like-minded American politicians — is always there. Gilbert Garcia, San Antonio Express-News, "SBOE debate highlights the cynical stigma of the hyphen," 16 June 2018 The computer marked it as a naughty word and substituted it with three hyphens. CBS News, ""Summa Cum Laude" cake censored by Publix grocery store," 23 May 2018 The computer marked it as a naughty word and substituted three hyphens. NBC News, "Grocery sees dirty word in 'Summa Cum Laude,' censors cake," 23 May 2018 The search function does not allow hyphens, but Kalel is a name given to a couple hundred boys nationwide each year. Jim Stingl, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Stingl: Baby's super name Kal-El makes the top 1,000 list, and Melania is coming on strong," 22 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Normally, closed caption subtitling bleeps words in a variety of different ways: phrases, such as (bleep), [expletive], or [censored] may be used, though sometimes hyphens or asterisks are substituted instead (f–k, f---, or f*** are all examples. Ace Ratcliff, SELF, "I Rely On Closed Captions to Enjoy a Show And I Don't Appreciate Netflix's Way of Censoring Them," 10 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hyphen.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of hyphen


circa 1620, in the meaning defined above


1814, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for hyphen


Late Latin & Greek; Late Latin, from Greek, from hyph' hen under one, from hypo under + hen, neuter of heis one — more at up, same

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Statistics for hyphen

Last Updated

9 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for hyphen

The first known use of hyphen was circa 1620

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More Definitions for hyphen



English Language Learners Definition of hyphen

: a punctuation mark - that is used to connect words or parts of words


hy·​phen | \ ˈhī-fən \

Kids Definition of hyphen

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a mark - used to divide or to connect words or word elements


hyphened; hyphening

Kids Definition of hyphen (Entry 2 of 2)

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More from Merriam-Webster on hyphen

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with hyphen

Spanish Central: Translation of hyphen

Nglish: Translation of hyphen for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of hyphen for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about hyphen

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