The Grammarphobia Blog

Compound interest

Q: Here’s a question about compound nouns. I’ve seen “try out,” “try-out,” and “tryout.” Are they all correct? Or is only one proper?

A: The current preference is for one word, no hyphen: “tryout.” This comes from the most recent editions of my two principal dictionaries: The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language and Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.

The present style for “tryout” is likely to persist, since compound nouns tend to start life as two separate words, then become hyphenated, and over time lose their hyphens and become one solid word.

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