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I read a sentence in Word by Word by Kory Stamper which was:

Not only are there more print sources around than ever before, but the Internet gives everyone with access the opportunity to be a well-read author. That's not hyperbole. In June 2014, a 16-year-old teen named Peacheses Monroee made 6 second video in which she called her eyebrows "on fleek" meaning "good" or "on point". In November, just five months after Monroee posted her video nearly 10% of all Google searches were for "on fleek".

According to the context, I think "well-read author" means one whose work has been widely read. But dictionary definition tells that it mean one who is very knowledgeable. So is my conclusion right?

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According to the context, I think "well-read author" means one whose work has been widely read. But dictionary definition tells that it mean one who is very knowledgeable. So is my conclusion right?

Well firstly there is a slight difference in UK and US usage of "well read". A well read American by definition is someone who has read a lot of important books. Whilst a well read Brit is someone who has learned a lot of information on different subjects by reading.

However the differences, aside, well-read author is not the same as well read author because of the hyphen. The Hyphen is used to join the two words so no misunderstanding to meaning can be made. Therefore in this case the meaning is The author has been read by many people.

Rule 5.Grammar book Never hesitate to add a hyphen if it solves a possible problem. Following are two examples of well-advised hyphens:

Confusing: Springfield has little town charm.

With hyphen: Springfield has little-town charm.

Without the hyphen, the sentence seems to say that Springfield is a dreary place. With the hyphen, little-town becomes a compound adjective, making the writer's intention clear: Springfield is a charming small town.

Confusing: She had a concealed weapons permit.

With hyphen: She had a concealed-weapons permit.

With no hyphen, we can only guess: Was the weapons permit hidden from sight, or was it a permit for concealed weapons? The hyphen makes concealed-weapons a compound adjective, so the reader knows that the writer meant a permit for concealed weapons.

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    I think it's still somewhat ambiguous without more context, but you are correct that the hyphen makes me lean toward your interpretation. – Andrew Aug 12 '19 at 16:08

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