This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Nuts and Bolts: more cavorting hyp-hens.

I'm a long-standing collector of hyp-hens.

No, hyp-hens aren't poultry of any kind, but they're my word for the sort of hyphen that shows that the rest of a word continues on the next line.

You get them a lot in broadsheet newspapers, where the narrow columns of type make hyphenating long words very often una-

As far as I know no one has come up with any rules for the use of hyp-hens, but there are two things to bear in mind: firstly, don't confuse your reader by changing the pronunciation of the word between the front part of the word and its rear portion (as in on-
ion, for example); and, secondly, don't lead your reader ast-
ray by creating words that shouldn't be there. (Rays? What rays?).

Sometimes a really inspired use of a hyp-hen can create two new words, and then the meaning can end up momentarily scram-

Here are three recent examples of hyp-hens going, well, ape.


(presumably one of those annoying people who think it's acceptable to give a three-letter answer to an email.)


(which makes me wish I hadn't already written a book called CLASS SIX AND THE NITS OF DOOM.)


(so, have the apples in that recipe been peeled, or are they also cored and chopped?)

So there we are, some lovely hyp-hens. They always hold out the hope of a bit of fun in even the dullest article, so all power to them!

Nuts and Bolts: hyp-hens. This word is Latin and means the combining of two words, from the Greek huphon, together, and heis, one.


  1. I do like a nice hyphen! I said the name Hermoione HER-MY-ONE for ages because of the misplacing of a hyphen at school.

    1. Oh, gosh, yes. And I had just the same trouble with Euri-dice!