John McIntyre, whom James Wolcott calls "the Dave Brubeck of the art and craft of copy editing," writes on language, editing, journalism, and other manifestations of human frailty. Comments welcome. Identifying his errors relieves him of the burden of omniscience. Write to jemcintyre@gmail.com, befriend at Facebook, or follow at Twitter: @johnemcintyre. Back 2009-2012 at the original site, http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/mcintyre/blog/ and now at www.baltimoresun.com/news/language-blog/.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Note to copy editors everywhere

Anal-retentive takes a hyphen.

6 comments:

  1. Unless you follow Chicago and it appears in a subject complement, in which case it's unhyphenated, as in "Jonathon is overly anal retentive." Personally, I think it's a silly rule, but there you have it.

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  2. It's a permanently hyphenated compound, per Merriam-Webster's 11th...

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  3. John,
    What are other permanently hyphenated compounds?

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  4. Chris:
    Preparation-H
    Ex-Lax
    Fleet-Enema

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  5. And my personal favorite, "happy-go-lucky."

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  6. And only we anal-retentive types care.

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