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

Among the list of subjects are first ladies, fashion tycoons, and multi-hyphenate moms. Lilah Ramzi, Vogue, "Summer Arrives Early in Claiborne Swanson Frank’s New Book on Motherhood," 13 Apr. 2018 At 39, the multi-hyphenate needs just an Oscar to attain EGOT status. Paul Grein, Billboard, "Time Is on Their Side: They're Under 50 & Need Just 1 More Award to Clinch the EGOT," 6 Aug. 2019 However, the multi-hyphenate star has an impressive collection of her own — one most people rarely ever notice. Samantha Sasso, refinery29.com, "Selena Gomez Has The Best Tattoo Collection — & No One Ever Noticed," 24 July 2019 Urban, a four-time Grammy award winner, is a multi-hyphenate artist and exactly the type of performer that Live Nation looks to book into its Las Vegas theaters like The Colosseum thanks to his mass cross-genre appeal and pop cultural recognition. Melinda Sheckells, Billboard, "Keith Urban to Open the New Colosseum at Caesars Palace With Two Concerts: Exclusive," 12 July 2019 The multi-hyphenate star posted a photo wearing the dress alongside her basketball player husband, and the couple’s 9-month-old baby girl Kaavia James. Georgia Slater, PEOPLE.com, "Gabrielle Union Wears Dress with Husband Dwyane Wade's Face All Over It — And She's 'Obsessed'," 28 Aug. 2019 The show was created, written, and executive produced by multi-hyphenate extraordinaire Robin Thede and produced by the likes of Issa Rae and her company Issa Rae Productions A Black Lady Sketch Show airs Fridays at 8 p.m. ET on HBO. Clarkisha Kent, EW.com, "A Black Lady Sketch Show," 28 Aug. 2019 And tonight, making her Screen Actors Guild Awards debut, the multi-hyphenate performer—who is nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading role for A Star Is Born—looked nothing short of an Old Hollywood movie star. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "Lady Gaga Steps Out With a Bombshell Leg Reveal at the 2019 SAG Awards," 28 Jan. 2019 The 23-year-old singer-songwriter is the daughter of singer-songwriter Neneh Cherry and multi-hyphenate Cameron McVey, musicians whose decades-long careers have spanned pop, punk, hip-hop, trip-hop and beyond. Washington Post, "12 things to do in the D.C. area this week," 12 Aug. 2019

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

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

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to be made up of

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