Hyphen

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hyphen

A hyphen ( - ) is used primarily to join two or more words to form a new, compound word or to provide clarity when using certain affixes (such as prefixes). Hyphens also have certain technical uses, such as indicating a range of numbers or combining multiple sets of numbers together into a single unit (as is often done with telephone numbers).
Because a hyphen unites multiple things into a single element, we do not put spaces on either side of it (except in one specific circumstance known as a hanging hyphen, which we’ll discuss later on).
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punctuation

punctuation [Lat.,=point], the use of special signs in writing to clarify how words are used; the term also refers to the signs themselves. In every language, besides the sounds of the words that are strung together there are other features, such as tone, accent, and pauses, that are equally significant (see grammar and phonetics). In English, stress, pausing, and tonal changes interlock in a set of patterns often called intonations. Such features are represented by punctuation, indicated by signs inserted usually between words, and often following the feature they mark.

The intonations of declaration are classified in three types, symbolized by the comma (,), used to separate words or phrases for clarity; the semicolon (;), used to mark separation between elements in a series of related phrases, generally in a long sentence; and the full stop, or period (.), used to mark the end of a sentence. Other intonations are shown by the exclamation point (!); the interrogation point, or question mark (?); the parenthesis [( )], used to set off a word or phrase from a sentence that is complete without it; and the colon (:), typically used to introduce material that elaborates on what has already been said. Quotation marks (“ ”) indicate direct quotation or some borrowing, and usually demand special intonation. The ellipsis (…) is used to indicate the place in a passage where material has been omitted or a thought has trailed off. The long dash (—) is especially used in handwriting for incomplete intonation patterns.

Punctuation of material intended to be read silently rather than aloud—the far more usual case today—has introduced refinements designed to help the reader: brackets ([ ]), a secondary parenthesis; capital letters; paragraphing; and indentation. Two other frequent signs are the apostrophe ('), marking an omission of one or two letters, or a possessive case, and the hyphen (-), marking a line division or an intimate joining, as in compound words. These last two are practically extra letters, and their use, belonging with spelling rather than with punctuation, is highly arbitrary.

Each written language has its tradition of punctuation, often very different from that used in English; thus, in German nouns are capitalized, and in Spanish the beginnings of exclamations and of questions are marked with inverted signs. See also accent.

Bibliography

See W. D. Drake, The Way to Punctuate (1971); Words into Type (3d ed. 1974); D. Hacker, A Writer's Reference (4th ed. 1999); Univ. of Chicago Press, The Chicago Manual of Style (15th ed. 2003).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Hyphen

 

a short horizontal line used without spaces in several types of words and word combinations.

In words the hyphen joins particles, as in the Russian chto-to, “something,” and the French celui-ci, “this one” or “the latter”; prefixes, as in the Russian po-prezhnemu, “as before”; and the roots of compounds, as in the Russian temno-krasnyi, “dark red,” and the [British] English “baby-talk.”

Word combinations with a hyphen are usually one part of the sentence: the Russian Diuma-otets, “Dumas père,” and the English “good-for-nothing.” The hyphen is also used for syllable division at the end of a line and as a sign of abbreviation, as in the Russian b-ka (for biblioteka, “library”) and s.-kh. (for sel’skokhoziaistvennyi, “agricultural”).

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

hyphen

A connecting link (for example, a covered walkway) between a large, centrally located house and its dependencies or wings; the house and its hyphens may be in a straight line or form a curve. Also see five-part mansion.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.