This wikipedia page has two forms of the word name calling.

  1. Name Calling
  2. Name-calling

But the Wiktionary entry, namecalling has the following forms:

  1. Namecalling
  2. Name-calling

Which is correct and which is wrong? Are all of them correct? Is 'namecalling' a word or a two word phrase?

  • 1
    We get lots of questions asking for adjudication between two-word, hyphenated, and one-word forms. In this case (as usual) there's no single "right answer". On average, two-word forms tend to become hyphenated before eventually being accepted as single-word forms. But it's a process that happens over time, and for any given pair it's a matter of opinion and stylistic preference as to where you want to aim for with that moving target. For your example, I'd go for the hyphen myself, but that's just my opinion. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Apr 1 '17 at 21:20
  • @FumbleFingers Your comment sounds more like an answer than a comment. – Sakib Arifin Apr 1 '17 at 21:59
  • Per the last sentence of my comment, I believe any "answer" that merely endorses or rules out some possibilities for your particular example would be just a matter of opinion, and thus effectively Off Topic. There are probably several earlier posts such as correct use of hyphens to connect two words, where the question and/or answers address the more general case. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Apr 2 '17 at 13:52
  • But you might find this NGram useful. It won't tell you what's "correct" (a meaningless question, imho), but at least you'll note that (as I fully expected when posting my first comment) the hyphenated form is more common. But for this specific collocation that seems to have always been the case since it first started to be used. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Apr 2 '17 at 13:56
  • I will just note that Google Books has 7 written instances of one-word namecalling from 1800-1900, but after checking every instance of the two words occurring consecutively in that period, it seems they're all just irrelevant chance collocations (and there are none separated by a hyphen). I find this "interesting", but I doubt there's anything one could say about it that would be useful to a learner wanting to know how "best" to write English today. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Apr 2 '17 at 14:08

Language evolves and spelling changes. Words like these often get merged. For example you won't see to-morrow these days but it was the normal spelling of tomorrow. Also email used to be e-mail, internet until recently was Internet. But of course you can still use e-mail and Internet, but not to-morrow. Basically your case is consistent with how these changes happen.

  • name calling
  • name-calling
  • namecalling

Like an evolution. The first and the second are the "standard" spellings but English is flexible enough to allow the third one already, and in time maybe (probably) that will be the most widely accepted.

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