Compounds

Q. Can you resolve an apparent contradiction concerning compounds? The term in question is copyeditor. According to section 7.85, copyeditor seems to be classified as a “permanent compound.” Section 7.78 offers the following definition of that term: “A permanent compound is one that has been accepted into the general vocabulary and can be found in the dictionary.” Yet www.merriam-webster.com (a recommended resource in the CMOS bibliography) has copy editor. I’ve seen the Q&A answer that guesses at the justification of the noun copyeditor on the basis of copyediting as a verb. And I do agree with you that there are more worthy issues to tackle. Just wondering if there is something we’re missing in the apparent contradiction.

A. To clarify, Chicago style is not the same as Merriam-Webster’s 11th Collegiate; rather, we recommend that dictionary when a particular word or construction is not covered in CMOS. Copyeditor has been Chicago’s preference since the 14th edition. Naturally, dictionaries and style manuals sometimes disagree on the styling of compounds—after all, who gets to decide what has been “accepted into the general vocabulary”?