Single, hyphenated, or double?

dolmen.JPGDuring the final proofreading of Notes from the Nineties, I’m finding small amusements in MS Word…which seems to be contradicting previous versions of spellcheckers.

Or is that spell-checkers? Spell checkers?
I’ve always had a habit of using single words where others prefer double or hyphenated words. To me, reproducing spoken language makes dialog in particular (of course) and prose sound more natural. Now that the automated spellchecker (spell-…spell…) is suggesting single words over other options, I’m finding a number of inconsistencies.

For example, the program suggests “flowerbed” (OK…) but “death bed” (um…why?). Gravestone is one word, but grave marker is two…but they mean the same thing (don’t they?). Rune stone is two words (but it’s only one object, like a gravestone…). Huh?

Which would you prefer? Single word? Double? Hyphens?

Below I’ve written the original form of 2-word nouns and adjectives in my stories (most dating from, you guessed it, the ‘90s) in the order in which they appear. Try to guess which ones were flagged by Word as “misspelled.” (Note: I changed many to single words…which ones would you change?)

  • camp fire
  • deathbed
  • flower bed
  • roommate
  • stop light
  • firebrand
  • southbound
  • off season
  • ear-splitting
  • firepit
  • stone walls
  • newly-graveled
  • eighteen wheeler
  • dimly-lit
  • sidepocket
  • cut-outs
  • cubby-hole
  • wrist watch
  • name tag
  • gumline
  • militia men
  • apple sauce
  • sing-song
  • toll booth
  • fast forward
  • day-long
  • door frame
  • head-first

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