Two words, put together and mean something new.

Discussion in 'English Only' started by ajt, Mar 27, 2009.

  1. ajt Member

    California EE UU
    English - California
    When two different words are put together and mean something different. Examples;

    light + house = lighthouse
    key + board = keyboard
    wall + paper = wallpaper
    pass + word = password

    Is there an specific name for these type of words? And does a list exist anywhere?

  2. Cypherpunk Senior Member

    Springdale, AR
    US, English
    They're called compound words. I don't know if there is a list in a dictionary or other reference, but here is a list of over 2,000 that I found online.
  3. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    The compound words in post #1 are at the end of the natural progression of compound nouns from two-word or hyphenated to one-word terms.
    In each case the component part retains its original meaning.

    Take care with the list linked in post #2.
    Most of the words are like this - the separate parts represent nouns - but some are not: for example, courtship, cutlet, eastward ...
  4. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    The words in the first post are indeed compound words, but they are also a subset: compound nouns. Panjandrum has explained how those came to be.

    The list given by Cypherpunk is of compound words, including both compound nouns and other compound words. You need look no farther than the first on the list: afterbirth. It is a compound made up of an adverb and an noun.

    I don't know if this is true of all compound nouns, but many or most have one noun retain its original meaning as a noun, while the other behaves attributively, (a word panjandrum taught me!) acting in effect as an adjective.

    Lighthouse= house [containing/with a] light. Light acts adjectivally to specify what kind of house it is.
    Wallpaper= Paper (noun), wall=noun acting attributively/adjectivally to tell us what kind of paper it is.
    Doghouse: a house (noun) + dog (attributive) tells us what purpose the house has, or who it belongs to. It is the dog's house, a house for a dog.

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