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)

Other Words from hyphenate


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

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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

Verb In English, we hyphenate some compounds but not others.
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb More women still are going double-barrelled -- opting to hyphenate their last name. Jay Parini, CNN, 7 Aug. 2021 Dear Abby: Is there an existing or evolving tradition regarding what surname to give to the children of parents who already have hyphenated last names? Abigail Van Buren, Houston Chronicle, 25 Jan. 2020 Leonardo da Vinci was a multi-hyphenate visionary known equally for his art and ahead-of-his-time engineering designs. Daisy Hernandez, Popular Mechanics, 19 Sep. 2019 These are rated as second-highest quality and their names are often hyphenated with the nearby town (e.g. Meursault-Charmes). Lettie Teague, WSJ, 7 Dec. 2017 Whether or not to hyphenate is entirely your choice: Jane Riley, Eleanor Rose, Ann-Morgan. Southern Living, 27 Dec. 2016 Whether or not to hyphenate is entirely your choice: Jane Riley, Eleanor Rose, Ann-Morgan. Southern Living, 1 May 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The multi-hyphenate was spotted in a lovely light dress while out in LA with her daughter, Emme. Quinci Legardye, Harper's BAZAAR, 15 May 2022 In a clip shared by her longtime stylist Law Roach, the multi-hyphenate showed off the outfit, strutting past the trophy display at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in LA. Quinci Legardye, Harper's BAZAAR, 27 Feb. 2022 The multi-hyphenate is also a multi-BAFTA nominee, including a BAFTA best actor nom for his dramatic performance opposite Oscar winner Judi Dench in John Madden’s Mrs. Brown (1997). Scott Roxborough, The Hollywood Reporter, 2 May 2022 Nearly two decades after the two initially split, J. Lo and Affleck reunited in April 2021, following the dissolution of the multi-hyphenate's engagement to Alex Rodriguez. Chelsey Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, 9 Apr. 2022 The multi-hyphenate was spotted out and about in Los Angeles yesterday, running errands solo in a light and breezy maxi dress. Quinci Legardye, Harper's BAZAAR, 1 May 2022 Until then, the multi-hyphenate has plenty going on at her farm in Katonah, New York, including her first-ever estate sale of items from her Westchester home. Jamie Kravitz, Woman's Day, 25 Apr. 2022 April 7 Deadline for current voting members to apply for hyphenate voting status and for Associate members to apply to upgrade to Active voting membership. Kimberly Nordyke, The Hollywood Reporter, 6 Apr. 2022 The multi-hyphenate presented the music accompanied by a live jazz band and with multiple outfit changes and showcased her vocals via musical theater numbers as well as a new track. Thania Garcia, Variety, 12 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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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The first known use of hyphenate was circa 1889

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Cite this Entry

“Hyphenate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hyphenate. Accessed 30 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for hyphenate


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

Kids Definition of hyphenate

: to connect or mark with a hyphen

More from Merriam-Webster on hyphenate

Nglish: Translation of hyphenate for Spanish Speakers


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