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Compound Words

Compound words are bigger words that are made by joining smaller words.

For instance, the word copyeditor is made of the words “copy” (writing) and “editor” (someone who fixes mistakes). So then, a copyeditor fixes mistakes in writing. There are hundreds of compound words like this in English. There are actually thousands if you include all the plurals and other word variations. People say and write compound words every day, which is a good place to start talking about common mistakes.

Why Editing Software Fails at Compound Words

1. (Un)Intelligent

We write every day to mean each day of the week. By contrast, the word everyday means normal or commonplace. “Every day” and “everyday” are NOT synonyms. Conflating separate words and compound words is a typo.

Unfortunately, editing software lacks the intelligence to recognize the difference. Most editing software misses mistakes like this. After all, it’s easy for software to just compare each word to a database of words to find misspellings in individual words. However, compound words require deeper understanding. But this isn’t the only problem.

2. (In)Complete

Many software editors lack a comprehensive dictionary. Obscure compound words are often not included. That means that software editors occasionally mark compound words as typos even when they are used correctly.

For instance, this article was first written using the website platform WordPress. WordPress incorrectly labeled over a dozen of the compound words in this article as spelling mistakes. Some of these words are borderline arcane, but others are as common as gumball and watercooler. It would be easy for a writer to see a red underline and insert a space. The editing software would provide immediate but misleading feedback by removing the underline. In this situation, editing software would actually introduce a typo. Even checking Google search results can be specious, because many people make the same mistakes. When in doubt, look up the proper spelling in a trustworthy dictionary.

3. (Un)Specialized

Finally, special-use compound words offer one more reason to be cautious with editing software. Some industries have unique conventions that differ from mainstream English. Disciplines like medicine, law, engineering, technology, and many others have usages that develop over time. Even classically reliable dictionaries may not offer the best advice when you’re writing to an audience of insiders.

Human editors can do the necessary research to spell compound words correctly in every circumstance. They can also standardize an organizational style guide to keep entire companies consistent in their messaging. Editing software simply cannot compete with people.

We’ve compiled a long (though not exhaustive) list of compound words. Each one is a potential mistake if software is the only editor. Use this list to decide if that word you’re trying to write is one word or two (or three).

If you’re concerned about what other mistakes your editing software might be overlooking, our editing team can review your writing and offer some insights.

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Compound Words List

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  Y  Z

A

  • aboveboard
  • aforementioned
  • afterglow
  • aftereffect
  • afterimage
  • afterlife
  • aftermath
  • afternoon
  • afterward
  • aircraft
  • airfield
  • airlift
  • airline
  • airmen
  • airplane
  • airport
  • airtime
  • allover
  • allspice
  • alongside
  • also
  • another
  • anthill
  • anybody
  • anyhow
  • anymore
  • anyone
  • anyplace
  • anytime
  • anyway
  • anywhere
  • around
  • ashipboard
  • ashtray
  • awestruck

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B

  • babysitter
  • backache
  • backbite
  • backbone
  • backbreaker
  • backdrop
  • backfire
  • background
  • backhand
  • backlash
  • backlog
  • backpack
  • backside
  • backslap
  • backslide
  • backspace
  • backspin
  • backstage
  • backstop
  • backstroke
  • backtrack
  • backward
  • backyard
  • ballpark
  • ballroom
  • bankbook
  • bankroll
  • barefoot
  • barnyard
  • baseball
  • basketball
  • bathrobe
  • bathtub
  • beachcomber
  • became
  • because
  • become
  • bedclothes
  • bedrock
  • bedroll
  • bedroom
  • bellbottom
  • bellboy
  • bellhop
  • below
  • birdhouse
  • birthday
  • blackball
  • blackberries
  • blackbird
  • blackboard
  • blackjack
  • blacklist
  • blackmail
  • blackout
  • blacksmith
  • blacktop
  • blowgun
  • bluebell
  • blueberry
  • bluebird
  • bluefish
  • bluegrass
  • blueprint
  • boarderline
  • boardwalk
  • bodyguard
  • bodywork
  • boldface
  • bookcase
  • bookend
  • bookkeeper
  • bookmark
  • bookmobile
  • bookseller
  • bookshelf
  • bookstore
  • bookworm
  • bootstrap
  • bowlegs
  • bowtie
  • brainchild
  • brainwash
  • breakfast
  • bugspray
  • butterball
  • buttercup
  • butterfingers
  • butterflies
  • butterfly
  • buttermilk
  • butternut
  • butterscotch
  • bypass

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C

  • cabdriver
  • campground
  • campsite
  • cancan
  • candlelight
  • candlestick
  • cannot
  • cardboard
  • cardsharp
  • cardstock
  • carefree
  • caretaker
  • careworn
  • carfare
  • cargo
  • carhop
  • carload
  • carpetbagger
  • carpool
  • carport
  • carrack
  • carryall
  • carsick
  • cartwheel
  • cattail
  • catwalk
  • caveman
  • centermost
  • chairperson
  • checklist
  • cheeseburger
  • cheesecake
  • classroom
  • clockwise
  • coastline
  • coffeemaker
  • comeback
  • comedown
  • commonplace
  • commonwealth
  • copperbottom
  • copyeditor
  • copywriting
  • cornmeal
  • countdown
  • courthouse
  • courtyard
  • cowboy
  • crewcut
  • crossbow
  • crossbreed
  • crosscut
  • crossover
  • crosswalk
  • cupcake

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D

  • dairymaid
  • daisywheel
  • daredevil
  • darkroom
  • dashboard
  • daybed
  • daybook
  • daybreak
  • daydream
  • daylight
  • daytime
  • deadborn
  • deadline
  • deadman
  • deadpan
  • dishcloth
  • dishpan
  • dishwasher
  • dishwater
  • diskdrive
  • dogwood
  • doorbell
  • doorstop
  • downbeat
  • downstairs
  • downtown
  • drawback
  • drawbridge
  • drawstring
  • driftwood
  • driveway
  • drumstick
  • duckbill
  • duckpin
  • duckweed

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E

  • earache
  • earbob
  • earbud
  • eardrop
  • eardrum
  • earring
  • earthbound
  • earthquake
  • earthward
  • earthworm
  • egghead
  • eggshell
  • elsewhere
  • everything
  • excommunicate
  • eyeballs
  • eyeglasses
  • eyelash
  • eyelid
  • eyesight
  • eyewitness

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F

  • fatherland
  • feathercut
  • fingernail
  • fingerprint
  • firearm
  • fireball
  • fireboat
  • firebomb
  • firebreak
  • firecracker
  • firefighter
  • fireflies
  • firehouse
  • fireproof
  • firewater
  • fireworks
  • fishbowl
  • fisherman
  • fisheye
  • fishhook
  • fishlike
  • fishmonger
  • fishnet
  • fishpond
  • fishtail
  • flagpole
  • flashback
  • flashlight
  • football
  • foothill
  • footlights
  • footlocker
  • footnote
  • footprint
  • footprints
  • footrest
  • forbearer
  • forbid
  • forearm
  • forebear
  • forebrain
  • forecast
  • forecastle
  • foreclose
  • foreclosure
  • foredoom
  • forefather
  • forefeet
  • forefinger
  • forefoot
  • forego
  • foregone
  • foreground
  • forehand
  • forehead
  • foreknowledge
  • foreleg
  • foreman
  • foremost
  • forepaws
  • foresee
  • foreshadow
  • foresight
  • foreskin
  • forestall
  • forethought
  • foretold
  • forever
  • forewarn
  • foreword
  • forget
  • forgive
  • forklift
  • format
  • fortnight
  • friendship
  • fruitcup

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G

  • gearbox
  • gearshift
  • glassmaking
  • goalkeeper
  • goldfish
  • goodbye
  • goodnight
  • grandaunt
  • grandchild
  • grandchildren
  • granddaughter
  • grandfather
  • grandmaster
  • grandmother
  • grandnephew
  • grandnieces
  • grandparent
  • grandson
  • grandstand
  • granduncle
  • grasshopper
  • grassland
  • gravelroot
  • graveyard
  • guardrail
  • guideline
  • gumball

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H

  • haircut
  • halfway
  • hamburger
  • hammerhead
  • handbook
  • handcuff
  • handgun
  • handmade
  • handout
  • handshake
  • handstand
  • headache
  • headdress
  • headfirst
  • headland
  • headlight
  • headline
  • headquarters
  • headspring
  • headstream
  • headwater
  • heartbreak
  • hereafter
  • hereby
  • herein
  • hereupon
  • herself
  • highball
  • highchair
  • highland
  • highway
  • himself
  • hindsight
  • homemade
  • homesick
  • hometown
  • homework
  • honeybee
  • honeycomb
  • honeydew
  • honeymoon
  • honeysuckle
  • hookup
  • hookworm
  • horseback
  • horsefly
  • horsehair
  • horseman
  • horseplay
  • horsepower
  • horseradish
  • houseboat
  • household
  • housekeeper
  • housetop
  • housework
  • however

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I

  • icebreaker
  • inside
  • intake
  • ironwork
  • itself

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J

  • jackpot
  • jailbait
  • jellybean
  • jellyfish
  • jetliner
  • jetport
  • jumpshot

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K

  • keyboard
  • keyhole
  • keynote
  • keypad
  • keypunch
  • keystone
  • keystroke
  • keyway
  • keyword

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L

  • lackluster
  • ladybug
  • landmark
  • landslide
  • layman
  • levelheaded
  • lifeblood
  • lifeboat
  • lifeguard
  • lifelike
  • lifeline
  • lifelong
  • lifesaver
  • lifetime
  • lifework
  • lighthouse
  • limelight
  • limestone
  • lipstick
  • longhand
  • longhouse
  • lukewarm
  • lunchbox

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M

  • mailbox
  • mainland
  • mainline
  • mankind
  • marketplace
  • masterpiece
  • matchbox
  • meantime
  • meanwhile
  • milestone
  • moonbeam
  • moonlight
  • moonlit
  • moonscape
  • moonshine
  • moonstruck
  • moonwalk
  • moreover
  • mothball
  • motherhood
  • motorcycle
  • myself

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N

  • nailrod
  • nearby
  • nevermore
  • nevertheless
  • newborn
  • newcomer
  • newfound
  • newsboy
  • newsbreak
  • newscaster
  • newsdealer
  • newsletter
  • newsman
  • newspaper
  • newsperson
  • newsprint
  • newsreel
  • newsroom
  • newsstand
  • newsworthy
  • nightfall
  • nobody
  • noisemaker
  • northeast
  • notebook
  • noteworthy
  • nowhere
  • nursemaid
  • nutcracker

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O

  • oneself
  • onetime
  • outside
  • outtravel
  • overabundance
  • overboard
  • overcoat
  • overdue
  • overflow
  • overland
  • overshoes
  • overtime
  • overtravel

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P

  • pacemaker
  • pancake
  • passbook
  • passkey
  • Passover
  • passport
  • password
  • paycheck
  • peanut
  • peppermint
  • pickup
  • pigeonhole
  • pinhole
  • pinstripe
  • pinup
  • pinwheel
  • pitfall
  • platform
  • playback
  • playboy
  • playground
  • playhouse
  • playpen
  • playthings
  • plowshoe
  • plowshare
  • ponytail
  • popcorn
  • postcard

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Q

  • quarterback
  • quartermaster
  • quarterstaff

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R

  • racetrack
  • racquetball
  • railroad
  • railway
  • rainbow
  • raincheck
  • raincoat
  • raindrop
  • rainstorm
  • rainwater
  • ramsbottom
  • rattlesnake
  • rattletrap
  • readminister
  • repairman
  • riverbanks
  • roommate
  • rowboat
  • rubberband

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S

  • sailboat
  • salesclerk
  • saltwater
  • sandbox
  • sandlot
  • sandpaper
  • sandstone
  • saucepan
  • sawdust
  • scapegoat
  • scarecrow
  • schoolbook
  • schoolboy
  • schoolbus
  • schoolhouse
  • schoolwork
  • scorekeeper
  • seashell
  • seashore
  • seesaw
  • setback
  • sharecropper
  • sharpshooter
  • sheepskin
  • shinbone
  • shipboard
  • shipbound
  • shipboy
  • shipfitter
  • shipworm
  • shipwreck
  • shoelace
  • shoemaker
  • shortbread
  • showoff
  • showplace
  • sideburns
  • sidekick
  • sideshow
  • sidewalk
  • sightseeing
  • silversmith
  • sisterhood
  • sixfold
  • skateboard
  • skintight
  • skylark
  • skylight
  • skyscraper
  • slapstick
  • slowdown
  • slumlord
  • snakeskin
  • snowball
  • snowbank
  • snowbird
  • snowcapped
  • snowdrift
  • snowflake
  • snowman
  • snowscape
  • snowshed
  • snowshoe
  • softball
  • software
  • somebody
  • someday
  • somehow
  • someone
  • someplace
  • something
  • sometimes
  • somewhat
  • somewhere
  • soundproof
  • soundtrack
  • southeast
  • southwest
  • soybean
  • spaceship
  • spacewalk
  • spearmint
  • spillway
  • spokesperson
  • stagehand
  • standby
  • standoff
  • standout
  • standpipe
  • standpoint
  • starfish
  • steamboat
  • steamship
  • stepson
  • stillborn
  • stockroom
  • stomachache
  • stonewall
  • stoplight
  • stopwatch
  • storerooms
  • straightforward
  • stronghold
  • subminister
  • subway
  • suitcase
  • sunbaked
  • sunbathe
  • sunburn
  • Sunday
  • sundial
  • sundown
  • sunfish
  • sunflower
  • sunglasses
  • sunlight
  • sunlit
  • sunray
  • sunrise
  • sunroof
  • sunset
  • sunshine
  • suntan
  • sunup
  • supercargo
  • supercharge
  • supercool
  • superego
  • superfine
  • supergiant
  • superhero
  • superhighways
  • superhuman
  • superimpose
  • superman
  • supermarket
  • supermen
  • supernatural
  • superpower
  • superscript
  • supersensitive
  • supersonic
  • superstar
  • superstrong
  • superstructure
  • supertanker
  • superweapon
  • superwoman
  • surfboard
  • sweetheart
  • sweetmeat

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T

  • tablecloth
  • tablespoon
  • tabletop
  • tableware
  • tadpole
  • tagalong
  • tailbone
  • tailcoat
  • tailgate
  • taillight
  • taillike
  • tailpiece
  • tailspin
  • takeoff
  • takeout
  • takeover
  • talebearer
  • taleteller
  • tapeworm
  • taproom
  • taproot
  • target
  • taskmaster
  • taxicab
  • taxpayer
  • teacup
  • teammate
  • teamwork
  • teapot
  • teaspoon
  • teenager
  • telltale
  • tenderfoot
  • tenfold
  • textbook
  • themselves
  • therefore
  • thoroughfare
  • threadbare
  • throughout
  • throwaway
  • throwback
  • thumbtack
  • thunderbird
  • thunderbolt
  • thunderstorm
  • timberline
  • timeframe
  • timekeeper
  • timepieces
  • timesaving
  • timescale
  • timeserver
  • timeshare
  • timetable
  • tiptoe
  • today
  • together
  • tombstone
  • toolbox
  • toothbrush
  • toothpaste
  • toothpick
  • touchdown
  • township
  • troubleshooting
  • turnabout
  • turnaround
  • turnbuckle
  • turncoat
  • turndown
  • turnkey
  • turnoff
  • turntable
  • typewriter

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U

  • underachieve
  • underact
  • underage
  • underarm
  • underbelly
  • underbid
  • undercharge
  • underclothes
  • undercover
  • undercurrent
  • undercut
  • underdeveloped
  • underdog
  • underestimate
  • underexpose
  • underfoot
  • underground
  • underline
  • underwater
  • upbeat
  • upbringing
  • upcoming
  • update
  • upend
  • upgrade
  • upheaval
  • upheld
  • uphill
  • uphold
  • upkeep
  • upland
  • uplift
  • uplink
  • upload
  • upmarket
  • upon
  • uppercase
  • upperclassman
  • uppercut
  • uppermost
  • upright
  • uprising
  • uproar
  • uproot
  • upscale
  • upset
  • upshot
  • upside
  • upstage
  • upstairs
  • upstanding
  • upstart
  • upstate
  • upstream
  • upstroke
  • uptake
  • upthrust
  • uptight
  • uptime
  • uptown
  • upturn
  • upward
  • upwind

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V

  • vainglory
  • viewpoint
  • vineyard
  • volleyball
  • voltmeter
  • vouchsafe

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W

  • waistline
  • walkways
  • walleyed
  • wallpaper
  • wardroom
  • warehouse
  • warfare
  • warlike
  • warmblooded
  • warpath
  • washboard
  • washbowl
  • washcloth
  • washhouse
  • washout
  • washrag
  • washroom
  • washstand
  • washtub
  • wastebasket
  • wasteland
  • wastepaper
  • wastewater
  • watchband
  • watchcase
  • watchdog
  • watchmaker
  • watchman
  • watchtower
  • watchword
  • watercolor
  • watercooler
  • watercraft
  • waterfall
  • waterfowl
  • waterfront
  • waterline
  • waterlog
  • watermark
  • watermelon
  • waterpower
  • waterproof
  • waterscape
  • watershed
  • waterside
  • waterspout
  • watertight
  • waterway
  • waterwheel
  • waterworks
  • wavelength
  • wavelike
  • waxwork
  • waybill
  • wayfarer
  • waylaid
  • wayside
  • wayward
  • weathercock
  • weatherman
  • weatherproof
  • weekday
  • weekend
  • weeknight
  • whatever
  • whatsoever
  • wheelbarrow
  • wheelbase
  • wheelchair
  • wheelhouse
  • whirlpool
  • whirlwind
  • whitecap
  • whitefish
  • whitewall
  • whitewash
  • widespread
  • wildlife
  • windmill
  • windshield
  • wipeout
  • without
  • woodshop

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Y

  • yardstick
  • yearbook
  • yearlong

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Z

  • zookeeper

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