hy·​phen·​ate | \ˈhī-fə-ˌnāt \
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)

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from hyphenate


hyphenation \ ˌhī-​fə-​ˈnā-​shən \ 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

Later, Glover walked onto the stage and embraced Foxx as fans appreciated the special moment shared between the two hyphenates. Carl Lamarre, Billboard, "7 Best Moments From the 2018 BET Awards," 25 June 2018 These days, our favorite celebrities are multi-hyphenate megastars. Samantha Sasso, refinery29.com, "A Serena Williams Beauty Line May Be Coming Soon," 12 Mar. 2018 Rising multi-hyphenate Craig Roberts has beefed up the British cast for his upcoming second feature, Eternal Beauty, now in production in Wales. Alex Ritman, The Hollywood Reporter, "Billie Piper, Penelope Wilton Join Sally Hawkins in 'Eternal Beauty'," 26 June 2018 The multi-hyphenate Jessica Williams, actor-host-writer-producer, who is best known for her work on The Daily Show and her podcast 2 Dope Queens, is the type of star who in many ways makes jobs like mine obsolete. Mary H.k. Choi, The Cut, "Jessica Williams Is Ready to Claim What’s Hers," 4 June 2018 Meanwhile O’Connell calls Colorado home and works as a multi-hyphenate creative in the outdoor industry covering everything from writing to hosting a podcast. Hans Aschim, Popular Mechanics, "What It’s Like to Be in 105-Degree Heat for 5 Days," 8 June 2018 Serena Williams isn’t just getting creative with her look at the French Open (that catsuit!) — the multi-hyphenate and arguable greatest athlete of our time now wants to empower women off the tennis court, too. refinery29.com, "Serena Williams Is Unstoppable, & Her New Clothing Line Proves It," 31 May 2018 Jennifer Lopez‘s age-defying beauty has many scratching their heads about how the multi-hyphenate star looks and acts so youthful ahead of her 49th birthday in July. Karen Mizoguchi, PEOPLE.com, "Jennifer Lopez Jokes She's 'Holding It Together' Ahead of Turning 50: 'At Some Point I'm Going to Age'," 31 May 2018 Lister-Jones, 35, has a hyphenated name and a multi-hyphenate career. Alyse Whitney, Bon Appetit, "Zoe Lister-Jones on Hiring an All-Women Film Crew and Being a ‘Bone Brothatarian’," 22 May 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about hyphenate

Listen to Our Podcast about hyphenate

Dictionary Entries near hyphenate

hyphal body







Statistics for hyphenate

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for hyphenate

The first known use of hyphenate was circa 1889

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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 \
hyphenated; hyphenating

Kids Definition of hyphenate

: to connect or mark with a hyphen

Keep scrolling for more

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).


obstinately defiant of authority

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Autumn Words of the Day 2018

  • a-top-down-image-of-road-through-an-autumn-forest
  • Which is a synonym of fugacious?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!