There are compound words in English like well-known, ill-mannered and so on. The rules tell us that they are spelled with a hyphen (well-known) if they are attributes (attributive adjectives), but without hyphen (well known) if they are predicates (predicative adjectives). It's all right. But what if they are dictionary entries? I think these words may be present in dictionaries. Will they have a hyphen in this case?

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    There is no rigorous consistency in this matter. Dictionaries are put together by teams of lexicographers whose opinions may vary on this matter. There are no "rules", just conventions which can change over time and place. google.com/… – Tᴚoɯɐuo Mar 19 '17 at 11:55
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    I could even see a lexicographer adding an entry wellknown at some point, and that act would cause them to become "well-known" and eventually "wellknown" in lexicographical circles. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Mar 19 '17 at 12:02
  • I asked because of very pure scientific interest, without any urgent need. Really did not hear about "wellknown" as a single word, without the space. – Alexander Mar 19 '17 at 13:56
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    You need to worry less about hyphens and more about modals :) – Tᴚoɯɐuo Mar 19 '17 at 14:20
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    In case it's still unclear, TRomano means that his comment about "wellknown" had been hypothetical, as evinced by his use of "I could even see." – Teacher KSHuang Mar 20 '17 at 9:37

There're no hard and fast rules whether or not we should hyphenate a compound adjective like well-known/well known. But it's far more common to hyphenate such adjectives if they are used as attributive adjectives and not to hyphenate them when used as predicative adjectives.

The Free Dictionary states:

"Well-known can be spelled with or without a hyphen. You usually spell it with a hyphen in front of a noun and without a hyphen after a verb. For examples:

I took him to a well-known doctor in Harley Street.

The building became very well known."

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