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What are Compound Words? (150+ Compound Words)

What are compound words?

What are compound words?

Playground, dining room, sister-in-law.

What do these words have in common, if anything at all? If you guessed that they’re all compound words, then you are absolutely 100% correct! Compound words are not complicated: they’re just words that have been mashed together to form an entirely new word altogether, with a different meaning than either of the words in isolation.

What are compound words?

The word pancake, for example, is a compound word that is made up of the two individual words, pan and cake. We know that the words pan and cake have their own distinct meanings, but when they’re combined, they form a new word with its own distinct meaning (which is a pancake).

A panacke, which is a compound word.
A pancake, which is a compound word with pan + cake.

The word compound originally comes from the Latin word componere, “to put together”, which is precisely what compound words are. The word compound can also be an adjective to describe something that consists of two or more parts or components.

Types of compound words

Compound words come in three main forms: closed, open, and hyphenated.

Types of compound words.

Closed compounds

Closed compounds are usually nouns, and do not use a space between both words. Some familiar examples of closed compounds are:

  • Chick + pea = chickpea
  • Sun + flower = sunflower
  • Lip + stick = lipstick

Part of speechClosed compounds
Nounbackpack, boyfriend, breakfast,
bypass, checkout, cheesecake,
highway, login, newborn, payout, peanut,
smartphone, weekend, wherewithal
Pronounanyone, everything, nobody,
oneself, themselves
Verbsbabysit, breakfast, bypass,
cannot, snowball
Adjectiveeveryday, heartbreaking, nearby,
newborn, shamefaced, spellbinding
Adverbanymore, anywayawhile, elsewhere,
hereby, however, maybe, moreover,
nevertheless, nowadays, spellbindingly
Prepositioninsofar, into, throughout, upon, within
Conjunctionwhenever, whereas

Open compounds

Open compounds include a space between the pair of words that act as a single “word” or unit; they’re always used together, and in the same order. Many open compounds are nouns, but as you’ll see from the chart below, they can also be verbs, adverbs, pronouns, prepositions, and so on.

When open compound are verbs are made up of verbs, these are called phrasal verbs. Phrasal verbs follow their own rules, but generally speaking, only one of the words in the group is conjugated while the others remain the same.

Part of speechOpen compounds
Nounartificial intelligence, house party,
living room, roller coaster, search engine,
test drive, theme park, walking stick
attorney general, common sense,
French fries, high school
Pronouneach other, no one, one another
Verbscheck in, figure out, go ahead, hold off, kick off, log in, pass by, used to
Adverbafter all, en route, next to, with feeling
Prepositionas far as, close by, such as, next to, with regard to
Conjunctionas far as, in that

Hyphenated compounds

Hyphenated compounds, as you may have guessed, use a hyphen to join the two or more words to create a compound. For the most part, they’re formed from adjectives or adverb-adjective combinations. Some examples of hyphenated compounds are:

  • Merry-go-round
  • Over-the-counter
  • Mother-in-law

Part of speechHyphenated compounds
Nouncheck-in, go-ahead, kick-off,
know-it-all, man-of-war, merry-go-round,
run-in, runner-up, sister-in-law, well-being
Verbs strong-arm, test-drive
Adjectiveempty-handed, full-fledged,
lightning-fast, long-term, mind-blowing,
off-duty, over-the-counter, roller-coaster,
run-of-the-mill, up-to-date, walk-in
Adverb lightning-fast, mind-blowingly, red-handed

Compounds vs. portmanteaus

portmanteau (also called a blend) is a word that’s formed by merging two independent words together. An example is the word smog: smog is a blend of two individual words, i.e., smoke + fog.

Portmanteaus are different from closed compounds because at least one of the words that form the portmanteau is not used in its complete form: some letters have been omitted or moved. Compound words, by contrast, use the entire form of the individual words that they’re formed from. Other examples of portmanteaus include:

  • Internet (interconnected + network)
  • Brunch (breakfast + lunch)
  • Hangry (hungry + angry)

List of common compound words (150+)

  1. After + Noon = Afternoon
  2. Air + Port = Airport
  3. Back + Ground = Background
  4. Base+ Ball = Baseball
  5. Bed + Room = Bedroom
  6. Butter+ Fly = Butterfly
  7. Card + Board = Cardboard
  8. Class+ Room = Classroom
  9. Coco + Nut = Coconut
  10. Cup + Cake = Cupcake
  11. Day + Light = Daylight
  12. Dog + House = Doghouse
  13. Door + Bell = Doorbell
  14. Ear + Ring = Earring
  15. Eye + Glasses + Eyeglasses
  16. Finger + Nail = Fingernail
  17. Foot + Ball = Football
  18. Gold + Fish = Goldfish
  19. Grass + Hopper = Grasshopper
  20. Hair + Brush = Hairbrush
  21. Hand + Shake = Handshake
  22. Head + Ache = Headache
  23. Honey + Bee = Honeybee
  24. Horse + Back = Horseback
  25. Jelly + Fish = Jellyfish
  26. Jump + Start = Jumpstart
  27. Key + Board = Keyboard
  28. Lady + Bug = Ladybug
  29. Lamp + Light = Lamplight
  30. Life + Guard = Lifeguard
  31. Lip + Stick = Lipstick
  32. Mail + Box = Mailbox
  33. Moon + Light = Moonlight
  34. Note + Book = Notebook
  35. Pan + Cake = Pancake
  36. Pass + Word = Password
  37. Pea + Nut = Peanut
  38. Play + Ground = Playground
  39. Rain + Bow = Rainbow
  40. Rain + Coat = Raincoat
  41. Rail + Road = Railroad
  42. Sand + Castle = Sandcastle
  43. Shoe + Lace = Shoelace
  44. Skate + Board = Skateboard
  45. Snow + Ball = Snowball
  46. Star + Fish = Starfish
  47. Sun + Glasses = Sunglasses
  48. Sun + Light = Sunlight
  49. Tea + Pot = Teapot
  50. Tooth + Brush = Toothbrush

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