Hyphens, En Dashes, Em Dashes

Q. Merriam-Webster lists “fact-check” as a verb (with a hyphen). But what about when it’s used as a noun—as in, “Oh no, not another fact check!” My guess is that it’s not hyphenated, but I would like to see an entry on this. Thank you.

A. We agree with your guess, so we turned to the OED for confirmation. That dictionary includes an entry for “fact-check” as a verb (with a hyphen) and another for “fact check” as a noun (no hyphen).

Interestingly, the noun and verb forms both first appeared in 1965, but in separate publications (according to the quotations in the OED entries). The verb appeared in a classified ad in the Chicago Tribune on February 7: “Loop encyclopedia needs science-oriented person to fact-check manuscripts”; the noun showed up in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review (vol. 113, no. 8, p. 1175): “Where more than a superficial fact check is required, the type of data typically provided in a presentence report is what might be desired.”

That job opening in the Loop sounds intriguing. If we had more time, we might do a fact check to find out which encyclopedia that was.