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compound noun

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compound noun

Two compound nouns (courtesy of Bart Simpson of The Simpsons)

Definition:

Two or more nouns combined to form a single noun.

Compound nouns are written as separate words (grapefruit juice), as words linked by a hyphen (sister-in-law), or as one word (schoolteacher).

A compounded noun whose form no longer clearly reveals its origin (such as bonfire or marshall) is sometimes called an amalgamated compound. Many place names (or toponyms) are amalgamated compounds: e.g., Norwich (north + village) and Sussex (south + Saxons).

See also:

Examples and Observations:

  • The whole idea started with a parent who wanted to do a fundraiser for the snowboarding team at Nevada Union.


  • "Alas, the poor speechwriter. I knew him well."
    (Ted Sorensen, quoted by Bradley H. Patterson in To Serve the President: Continuity and Innovation in the White House Staff. Brookings Institution, 2008)


  • "As for me, except for the occasional heart attack, I feel as young as I ever did."
    (Robert Benchley)


  • "Human service is the highest form of self-interest for the person who serves."
    (Elbert Hubbard)


  • "Some movie stars wear their sunglasses even in church. They're afraid God might recognize them and ask for autographs."
    (Fred Allen)


  • "Boyhood is the longest time in life for a boy. The last term of the school year is made of decades, not of weeks, and living through them is like waiting for the millennium."
    (Booth Tarkington)


  • "Chalkboarding is not torture."
    (Bart Simpson, The Simpsons)


  • "There's nothing that makes you so aware of the improvisation of human existence as a song unfinished. Or an old address book."
    (Carson McCullers, "The Sojourner." The Ballad of the Sad Café and Other Stories. Houghton Mifflin, 1951)


  • "Poetry is the mother tongue of the human race."
    (Johann Georg Hamann)


  • "America did not invent human rights. In a very real sense human rights invented America."
    (Jimmy Carter)


  • Meanings of Compound Nouns
    "The compound noun structure is extremely varied in the types of meaning relations it can indicate. It can be used to indicate what someone does (language teacher), what something is for (waste-paper basket, grindstone), what the qualities of something are (whiteboard), how something works (immersion heater), when something happens (night frost), where something is (doormat), what something is made of (woodpile), and so on."
    (Ronald Carter and Michael McCarthy, Cambridge Grammar of English. Cambridge University Press, 2006)


  • The Head of a Compound Noun
    "An interesting property of most compounds is that they are headed. This means that one of the words that make up the compound is syntactically dominant. In English the head is normally the item on the right hand of the compound. The syntactic properties of the head are passed on to the entire compound. Thus, . . . if we have a compound like easychair which is made up of the adjective easy and the noun chair, syntactically the entire word is a noun."
    (Francis Katamba, English Words: Structure, History, Usage, 2nd ed. Routledge, 2005)
Also Known As: nominal compound
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