Hyphens, En Dashes, Em Dashes

Q. I’ve been having a discussion about the use of the term “water-resistant.” Chicago style dictates the use of a hyphen in such a compound only when it precedes a noun. However, the term is recognized by the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

A. You’re lucky—you can’t go wrong! If you value consistency, make a note of which one you choose. Keep in mind that when such adjectival compounds follow the noun they modify, hyphenation is usually unnecessary, even for those that are hyphenated in Webster’s (such as well-read or ill-humored).