Q. I work at an arts organization that has two artistic directors. Should I refer to them as “co-artistic directors” or “artistic co-directors”?
Q. I can’t find any consensus on this: does “quarter century” require a hyphen? Merriam-Webster doesn’t even have the term in its dictionary! (The nerve.) It seems that other online dictionaries do (and they also have a hyphen with “half-century”), but I thought it was odd that I couldn’t find “quarter century” referred to as a noun in either CMOS or M-W. Thanks!
Q. I recently read an article about a con artist who was described as “running a fine wine scam.” The ambiguity—is it a fine scam with wine or a scam with fine wine?—is driving me to drink. Is it acceptable in this situation to write finewine as one word to resolve the ambiguity? Please uncork me a good answer.
Q. A colleague wants to use a hyphen in the phrase “Friday-afternoon lecture.” But isn’t this an overly rigid application of the phrasal adjective hyphenation rule in a case where it doesn’t apply? “Friday afternoon” is not a true phrasal adjective, but a temporal phrase. “Join me for Sunday morning brunch” is the same as saying, “Join me for brunch (on) Sunday morning.” Interested in your view on which is correct, and why.
Q. Some compound adjectives are always hyphenated, even after the verb. Is worry-free hyphenated after the verb, as in this sentence: Audit trails and compliance tools make the process worry-free?
Q. I see three different treatments for upper right in the Q&A responses: upper right, upper-right, upper right-hand. Are there any guidelines for this term? Is it hyphenated as an adjective and not as a noun? (“In the upper-right corner” vs. “In the upper right”?)
Q. Is there a rule I can point to in self-defense to justify the following hyphenation of compound nouns: “in private- and business life”? Business life is an unhyphenated compound noun in this sentence, but the first term, private, is hyphenated by virtue of being separated from the second term of its compound form, life. Does that sound right?
Q. We have a raging style debate in our office. Our online editor says videogame should be one word. This usage is already common on more tech-focused blogs, and he says it is more accurate, as the interactive video genre has become so much more than a type of “game.” AP says two words. What does CMOS say?
Q. I’m editing a manuscript that uses the terms over-commitment and under-commitment, sometimes in the same paragraph. The writers have hyphenated both terms. Does it look inconsistent to make the first term one word and the second term two words? Would it be less jarring to hyphenate both, as they have done? I’m fine with overcommitment as one word and under commitment as two, but I need some backing up so I can remove the unnecessary hyphens.
Q. If a writer presents a compound formed with a prefix that does not appear in Merriam-Webster, should it be hyphenated? Or is it OK to “create” a word by closing it up (if it doesn’t look too weird)? Of course I can’t think of any examples at the moment, but this comes up occasionally and I am often not sure how to proceed.