hy·​phen·​ate | \ ˈhī-fə-ˌnāt How to pronounce hyphenate (audio) \
hyphenated; hyphenating

Definition of hyphenate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

: to connect (words) or divide (a word, such as a word at the end of a line of print) with a hyphen



Definition of hyphenate (Entry 2 of 2)

: a person who performs more than one function (such as a producer-director in filmmaking)

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Other Words from hyphenate


hyphenation \ ˌhī-​fə-​ˈnā-​shən How to pronounce hyphenation (audio) \ noun

Did You Know?


In the early 20th century, the noun hyphenate referred to a resident or citizen of the U.S. whose recent foreign national origin caused others to question his or her patriotic loyalties - with or without there being just cause for that questioning. These hyphenates - the Irish-Americans, German-Americans, and others - were objects of suspicion. The hyphenates we're highlighting today are more often objects of admiration. Since around 1974, we've been referring to people with hyphens in their titles - producer-directors, for example, as hyphenates.

Examples of hyphenate in a Sentence


In English, we hyphenate some compounds but not others.

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

These are rated as second-highest quality and their names are often hyphenated with the nearby town (e.g. Meursault-Charmes). Lettie Teague, WSJ, "Beat the Burgundy Bubble: 11 Still-Affordable Wines," 7 Dec. 2017 Whether or not to hyphenate is entirely your choice: Jane Riley, Eleanor Rose, Ann-Morgan. Southern Living, "Let Mama Name Your Baby in 2017," 27 Dec. 2016 Whether or not to hyphenate is entirely your choice: Jane Riley, Eleanor Rose, Ann-Morgan. Southern Living, "Let Mama Name Your Baby in 2017," 1 May 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Virgil Abloh's appointment as artistic director of menswear at Louis Vuitton back in March was the latest addition to the multi hyphenate's long list of gigs—but by far the biggest. Matt Sebra, GQ, "Watch Virgil Abloh's First Louis Vuitton Men's Fashion Show Right Here," 21 June 2018 The Nuyorican multi-hyphenate is thriving as a songwriter/producer, performer, writer, poet, podcaster, activist, and now actress, using her multiple disciplines as a platform for her advocacy in the trans community. Jasmin Hernandez, Harper's BAZAAR, "Nomi Ruiz on Making Art That Means Something," 17 Jan. 2019 The multi-hyphenate seems to have grown weary of singlehandedly disrupting entire industries according to her whims, and now appears to be hard at work on some new music. Evelyn Wang, Glamour, "Get Ready: New Rihanna Music Is Coming," 24 Aug. 2018 The multi-hyphenate, who already has three Tonys, three Grammys, an Emmy, and a Pulitzer Prize, got emotional during the ceremony. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Watch Lin-Manuel Miranda Get His Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame," 1 Dec. 2018 Like many Hollywood celebrities, the multi-hyphenate star didn't stop at just one (or two) entrepreneurial project(s), Union also has a one-year-old fashion line in collaboration with New York & Company. Marina Liao, Marie Claire, "Gabrielle Union's New York & Company Fashion Line Sends Messages of Inclusivity and Positivity," 15 Aug. 2018 The multi-hyphenate has never been one to wallow, instead transforming would-be dramas into opportunities for bold new beauty notes. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, "Selena Gomez’s Latest Hair Transformation Is Proof She’s Just Fine, Thank You," 10 July 2018 The feature adaptation expands on the premise, adding actors like multi-hyphenate Jay Duplass, Game of Thrones’ Pedro Pascal, and The Wire’s Andre Royo to the mix, while also holding true to the original short’s aesthetic inspirations. Bryan Bishop, The Verge, "Prospect is a stylish science fiction movie that puts world building first," 31 Oct. 2018 Look up multi-hyphenate in the dictionary, and an image of Zendaya may just pop up. Christian Allaire, Vogue, "Zendaya on Fighting for Representation in Hollywood: “You Have to Create Your Own Space”," 11 Oct. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hyphenate.' 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 hyphenate


circa 1889, in the meaning defined above


1974, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for hyphenate


from the hyphens in the titles of such people, as producer-director

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Dictionary Entries near hyphenate

hyphal body







Statistics for hyphenate

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Time Traveler for hyphenate

The first known use of hyphenate was circa 1889

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More Definitions for hyphenate



English Language Learners Definition of hyphenate

: to connect (words or parts of words) with a hyphen


hy·​phen·​ate | \ ˈhī-fə-ˌnāt How to pronounce hyphenate (audio) \
hyphenated; hyphenating

Kids Definition of hyphenate

: to connect or mark with a hyphen

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More from Merriam-Webster on hyphenate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with hyphenate

Spanish Central: Translation of hyphenate

Nglish: Translation of hyphenate for Spanish Speakers

Comments on hyphenate

What made you want to look up hyphenate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


not to be persuaded, moved, or stopped

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